Links 1/19/2021

“What’s Wrong With Your Cat?” Online Group Has Owners Posting Pics Of Their Malfunctioning Cats Bored Panda (furzy)

This Elaborately Armored Samurai Was Folded From A Single Sheet of Paper This Colossal (David L)

The best photography of 2020 New Atlas (David L)

Astronomers edge closer to detecting background “sea” of gravitational waves Astronomy (furzy)

Nepali climbers make history with winter summit of K2 mountain BBC (David L)

Galway turf cutters turn environmental protectors in bid to preserve bogs Irish Times (PlutoniumKun)

America on a new fast track to fusion energy Asia Times

The Problem with Technosolutionism American Conservative. Resilc: “Look inside the hood of your current car vs a 55 Chevy……..We are a techo throw-a-way culture. not sustainable. You will never see a 2020 Chevy in 15 years on the road. I see 55 Chevys all the time.” Moi: Although I am not keen about driving, I like using a 2003 Buick. It works, has decent pickup, and is unfussy.

The Fascinating Second Lives of Stuff American Conservative (UserFriendly). On a roll!

Why the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Oil Lease Sale Flopped Backpacker (furzy)

Newly-identified nutrient helps the gut recall prior infections and kill invading bacteria News Medical Life Sciences (furzy). What kind of article is this??? Doesn’t even say taurine is an amino acid. It’s an essential amino acid for cats, fer Chrissakes.


Japan’s suicide rate rises 16% in second wave of Covid, study finds Guardian

Man ‘too scared to go home’ because of coronavirus allegedly hid in US airport for three months ABC Australia (UserFriendly)


Almost a third of recovered Covid patients return to hospital in five months and one in eight die Telegraph. But these were hospitalized patients, not all Covid cases.

From CanChemist: “Be sure to scroll down to read the whole thread. Grim.” Very very small sample. Still:

Another New Covid-19 Variant Discovered In L.A. Might Be Vaccine Resistant, Researcher Says; Strain First Identified In Denmark The Deadline (David L)

Joggers and cyclists should wear masks – here’s why The Conversation (Kevin W)

China and US clash at WHO over coronavirus investigation in Wuhan South China Morning Post


The COVID-19 death toll in the US could reach 500,000 by mid-February, the incoming CDC director warned Business Insider. And the mutants, um, mutations are coming….

‘Little old West Virginia’ sets pace on vaccine rollout ABC (resilc)

Fauci says federal approval of Johnson & Johnson, AstraZeneca vaccines is ‘weeks away’ New York Daily News (fk). Perhaps my memory is off, but I though I had read that the AstraZeneca approval wasn’t set to happen until April, so this change is welcome (assuming the approval process hasn’t been more trashed rushed than it was for the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines….

Vaccine Reserves White House Released Don’t Exist: Report New York Magazine

Biden Rejects Trump’s Plan to Lift EU, U.K., Brazil Travel Bans Bloomberg

Biden to deploy FEMA, National Guard to set up Covid vaccine clinics across U.S. CNBC: “How can they use the National Guard? They are busy protecting us from other ‘merikins…..”

MTA Worker Shortages and Illnesses Take Toll on Subway Service The City


Thousands march in Vienna against coronavirus restrictions Reuters




Exclusive: Trump slams China’s Huawei, halting shipments from Intel, others – sources Reuters

A green industrial policy for Europe Bruegel


One British Industry, Brexit’s Red Tape Is Just Beginning New York Times (resilc)

U.K. Offers Payments to Fishermen Hit by Brexit Trade Obstacles Bloomberg

Brexit: incompetence all round Richard North

Dawning realities Chris Grey


Massive Blackouts Have Hit Iran. The Government is Blaming Bitcoin Mining. Washington Post

A Yemeni Famine Made in Washington and Riyadh CounterPunch

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Cell Phone Location Privacy Bruce Schneier (David L)

Apple’s iPhone 13 Could Ditch the Lightning Port, Feature Next-Gen Vapor Chamber Cooling and In-Screen Fingerprint Sensor Apple Insider. Fingerprint sensor? Kill me now.

Imperial Collapse Watch

What ‘Democracy’ Is Under Attack? Caitlin Johnstone (Tom D)

Trump Transition

Prospect of Pardons in Final Days Fuels Market to Buy Access to Trump New York Times

Historians having to tape together records that Trump tore up Guardian. Charming.

Capitol Seizure

The Capitol Riot Revealed the Darkest Nightmares of White Evangelical America New Republic (resilc)

A place to fund hope’: How Proud Boys and other fringe groups found refuge on a Christian fundraising website Washington Post (resilc)

Capitol Mob Has Roots in Anti-Lockdown Protests Intercept. Consistent with our speculation.

‘I had no qualms’: The people turning in loved ones for the Capitol attack Guardian

Attack on Capitol was the beginning of an American insurgency, counterterrorism experts warn Yahoo

Wilmington 1898: When white supremacists overthrew a US government BBC

Lessons From the 6 January Insurrection CounterPunch (resilc)


Migrant caravan: Mexico presses US to reform immigration policies BBC

Biden to propose 8-year citizenship path for undocumented immigrants Associated Press

Context: BLM protest on MKL Day:

Our Famously Free Press

Parler CEO Brings Back Website, Promises Service Will Follow ‘Soon’ ars technica

CNN Pushes to Close Down Newsmax TV Newsmax

Former Wells Fargo general counsel fined $3.5 million in OCC settlement American Banker. Lower than expected :-(

Antidote du jour. Chris H: “Mother and child reunion.”

And a bonus (David L). Mute the sound:

See Yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. witters

    U.K. Offers Payments to Fishermen Hit by Brexit Trade Obstacles... Bloomberg.

    Not supports or assists, “offers payments.”

    That’s government for you.

  2. Wukchumni

    “What’s Wrong With Your Cat?” Online Group Has Owners Posting Pics Of Their Malfunctioning Cats Bored Panda
    One of our hair’m is a smooth as black velvet short-haired fellow (when you look him in the face-he slightly resembles a gorilla) and I had $600 burning a hole in my pocket from Big Gov, so I commissioned an artist from Tijuana to paint an image of dogs cheating @ poker on one side, and an angelic image of Elvis on the other side.

    I’m considering putting him up for sale on eBay, but would Etsy be a better venue?

    1. Susan the other

      cats are so playful they’ve gotta be close cousins to minks – the wild ones I see around here are so cat-like and very acrobatic, almost the same facial expressions if you catch them up close; tempted to get one for a pet.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Make ShIt Up again and you will be blacklisted. I should just rip your bogus comment out but someone replied so now I have to waste time on you to keep you from misinforming readers.

      And yes, I am going out of my way to make an example of you because not only did we shut down comments due to 1. too much low/no value added commentary, 2. too much acrimony and 3. too many false or factually questionable statements, we then issued two statements in less than two weeks on what we expected. And what do you do? Piss all over our rules.

      I said I was in low tolerance mode and I meant it.

      Taurine is an amino acid that occurs naturally within the body. Amino acids are the building blocks of proteins.

      In humans it is not an essential amino acid (we can make it from essential amino acids). Cats can’t so they have to ingest it. Their inability to fabricate taurine is what obligates them to be carnivores.

      1. pck

        “Taurine isn’t an amino acid” was also my first though, and I did a bit of digging. This is a weird definitional problem. There are at least a couple ways you could define an amino acid. One – “The building blocks of proteins” – is the common one that I learned in high school and university biology and the one I would default to today. That’s why I was confused, because Taurine isn’t incorporated into proteins as far as I could tell. This pubmed-accessible article ( says as much in the intro: “It plays a role in the modulation of intracellular free calcium concentration, and although it is one of the few amino acids not incorporated into proteins, taurine is one of the most abundant amino acids in the brain, retina, muscle tissue, and organs throughout the body.”.

        The other definition seems to be “an acid that has an amine group”. Amines are chemical groups containing nitrogen and one or more hydrogens. Taurine certainly has these, and is a super important biomolecule. However, I have only ever seen the term “amino acid” used to describe one of the traditional 20 or 21 amino acids that make up proteins.

        Wikipedia has a whole article about this with a term I had never seen: “non-proteinogenic amino acids” that says “In biochemistry, non-coded or non-proteinogenic amino acids are those not naturally encoded or found in the genetic code of any organism. Despite the use of only 22 amino acids (21 in eukaryotes[note 1]) by the translational machinery to assemble proteins (the proteinogenic amino acids), over 140 amino acids are known to occur naturally in proteins and thousands more may occur in nature or be synthesized in the laboratory.[1]”

        Learned something new today!

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Taurine most assuredly is incorporated into proteins. That is why it is essential for cats. There are over 200 amino acids but humans have only 9 essential amino acids, 11 non-essential and at least 8 conditional amino acids.

          Taurine isn’t any of those which is why it’s neglected in these discussions.

          Taurine is a type of amino acid, which are the building blocks of all proteins. Taurine is exclusively found in animal-based proteins. It is critical for normal vision, digestion, heart muscle function, to maintain normal pregnancy and fetal development, and to maintain a healthy immune system. Taurine is an essential amino acid in the cat.

          1. pck

            Oh sorry – maybe another definitional thing? When I said “incorporated into proteins”, I meant: chemically bonded to other amino acids in a long chain which forms a biomolecule, with a 3D structure, that enables it to catalyze some chemical reaction or perform another biological function. As far as I can tell, taurine doesn’t do this? That seems to be the thrust of the wikipedia article on “non-proteinogenic amino acids” as well.

            When that article you shared article “taurine is exclusively found in animal-based proteins”, that I think is referring to “proteins” in a different way. To me what that means is, if I cut up a chunk of cow, the biomolecule taurine will be found in that chunk of tissue, which will then be consumed by the cat, keeping them happy and healthy. Lots of other things will be found in that tissue too – blood and fat, in particular. None of these are “proteins” in the strict biochemical sense, but they’d be found in “animal protein” in the nutritional sense.

            Sorry if this is a frustrating tangent – one focus of my research is trying to improve protein function by modifying the amino acid sequence used to create the protein. I was both (extremely) surprised and excited at the idea that other mammals can incorporate novel amino acids into their proteins, as that would serve as another tool in our arsenal to build better proteins. So I was just trying to clarify for myself the contradiction between what I thought previously and the new info I was getting, and then share what I found.

        2. Ignacio

          Aminoacid, by most definitions, is a chemical term for molecules that contain a functional amino group -NH2 and a carboxilic acid group -COOH. Taurine contains an amino group and a sulphonic acid (-SO3H) group, so Taurine is an aminoacid but more precisely an aminosulfonic acid. So, if someone has been taught that aminoacid is something as defined above then one should not consider Taurine as an aminoacid though in a more relaxed and equally valid talk, Taurine is indeed an aminoacid. More precise names than ‘aminoacid’ would be preferable. I favour the use of aminoacid only for aminocarboxilic acids and aminosulfonic for Taurine which is more descriptive and precise. From Taurine’s chemical composition and structure I think it is safe to say Taurine biosynthesis probably comes from aminoacids or has common pathways with them.

      2. Art

        Gooogle it! 10 seconds of your life is all it takes. HOWEVER, because of taurine’s association with popular energy drinks like Red Bull, there are a lot of people out there who have heard of taurine but don’t know what it is or what an amino acid is. And because of taurine’s association with energy drinks, I’d be willing to cut a little bit of slack for someone who assumes that taurine is not a real, science-y thing.

      1. Basil Pesto

        if I may try to redeem myself by adding some value to this thread, there is a cool chapter in the book about translation that I recommended last week (‘Is That a Fish in Your Ear?’ by David Bellos) which deals with the eskimo/words for snow myth and its implications!! I continue to highly recommend the book; it’s endlessly interesting.

    2. Rodeo Clownfish

      Agreed, although we should acknowledge that some people do consider it to be an amino acid.

      Taurine has a sulfonic acid where a true amino acid would have a carboxylic acid. So taurine cannot be incorporated into oligopeptides or proteins.

  3. Toshiro_Mifune

    You will never see a 2020 Chevy in 15 years on the road. I see 55 Chevys all the time

    The average vehicle age in the US is currently 12 years. You will absolutely see 2020 Chevys still on the road in 15 years. While I don’t doubt the US is a “techno throw-a-way culture”, automobiles would be a poor choice as evidence. Links below

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Um, your statement is hardly a given. 2008 cars have way fewer telematics than 2020 cars. And the average age being 12 years old means many cars are way older, like the 2003 Buick I drive. When I go to rent cars that are midrange or premium (as in theoretically the same class as this Buick when new), they are flimsier on every dimension, the steering wheel, the shifting mechanism, the brakes. The only thing that is clearly better is the entertainment/Internet claptrap, in which I have zero interest. I would never never never buy a car built after say 2010 and probably even earlier. I do not want all the electronic spyware/guaranteed planned obsolescence claptrap.

      1. Howard Beale IV

        From where I stand, the earliest automotive telematic system was OnStar; and the first generation OnStar vehicles haven’t worked in over a decade because of the digital switchover of mobile infrastructure and the auto manufacturers never offered upgraded OnStar for those vehicles. I have rarely scene any 1950-1970 vehicles on the road unless they are collective/historical cars, that by nature are rarely driven.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Resilc may have been hyperbolic with his 1955 example but I absolutely do not want a car with much in the way of electronics, which means pre 2010.

          1. Wukchumni

            I have friends who have identical looking on the outside Boss Mustangs from I think 1971 & 2013, but thats where the similarity ends.

            You open the hood on the 1971 and everything is accessible, a tree-shade mechanic could do just about anything needed as far as repairs go…

            …whereas on the 2013 it practically screamed stay the family blog away, a cacophony of cables, computers and whatnot. Maybe you could change the oil, but not much else.

          2. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

            I do all my own car work, including removing and rebuilding engines, and my cut off year for cars I will work on is around 2008. I currently have a 2007 Saturn (a re-baged German GM/Opel) and a 2006 Subaru. I particularly refuse to work on cars that have engines that are removed from the bottom, or require proprietary computer programming for changing simple things like batteries.

            I don’t think I’ll ever have to buy another car again, but I don’t drive like a typical American, either. The day I’m too old to work on cars, I’ll also be too old to survive in our techno cornucopian world. It will be a good day to die.

            1. ambrit

              I do most of my own automobile repair work too. The date of 2005 is on my ‘radar’ for ease of repair. Anything that requires computer algorithms to repair is by definition prone to total failure to repair. Code is so easy to corrupt. Who knows what “back doors” have been built into a vehicle’s code?
              One of my neighbors recently got his grandfather’s mid 1960’s Craftsman riding mower up and running. He says he’ll start using it to do his lawn in the spring. Try ‘restoring’ a modern day riding mower. Plus, he saved himself a thousand dollars in not buying a new one.

            2. SteveW

              I have a 1991 Acura. Even for that vintage, the electronic parts for the climate control (temperature sensor and setting, AC, fan speed) are falling apart. Have to find people to work on the electronic boards to replace capacitors etc. The car works great except for the unbearable temperature during the hottest days. I cannot imagine working on the newer cars. Come to think of it the late 60s cars would be great to have and to work on.

          3. Howard Beale IV

            Hate to tell you this, but you can’t get away from electronics in cars as OBD has been a core component in autos going back to the 1980s, right after electronic ignition came on the scene in the mid-late 1970s. And Toshiro is dead-on about CANbus/EDR’s, which your 2003 Buick likely has in one form or another.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              I used “electronics” as code for electronic components that have meaningful proprietary software/intelligence (which as readers know, can be incorporated into complex chips). My observation about newer cars is these proprietary electronics fail at a high rate, as in more than occasionally within five years.

              By contrast, on our ancient Buick, the only electronic replacement we have had to make is of a sensor involved in the ignition. Little auto lube shop had it in stock which means it’s a complete commodity.

      2. Andrew

        > cars built after 2010..
        Mid nineties to mid 2000’s was the golden age for vehicles. I have two chevy half ton long box pick-up trucks: A 1999 with 212000 miles, and a 2002 with 268000 miles. They are reliable , cheap to repair and get decent mileage if you drive 55mph. Also the bed rails are not up to your eyeballs so they are easy to load and unload. I am in the central part of the Upper Peninsula so the rust takes its toll, but its nothing some sheet metal and pop rivets wont fix. No pretensions – No payments-No problems.

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          I had to finally send my 2004 Citroen to her final dismantling place & due to my other half ( sometimes better ) being semi disabled am kind of her chauffer due to something called a Motability allowance that she applied for & got. We had to rush as Bessie’s exhaust fell off & she had developed a bad oil leak, with another factor being getting a car before the latest lockdown.

          We got it in the nick of time being a small Dacia ( Romanian ) which we were told is relatively stupid in the smart stakes much like myself. It’s nice that the boot / trunk opens, the lights don’t come on & go off when they feel like it, the tyres don’t take it in turns to slowly deflate, no duct tape on the wing mirror, doesn’t smell like my Grandad’s car & I can now listen to my own choice of music again.

          It feels a bit like a tin can & doesn’t hold the road as well, but at least I don’t have the nightmare & expense of trying to get the old girl to pass another test. 165,000 miles since new with no engine problems until the end, but her joints suffered from Irish roads, particularly when we lived half way up a mountain in County Kerry where the 3 miles & back to visit the local shop was like a miniature Monte Carlo rally. Silly I know, but I felt a sense of loss when she left.

        2. Louis Fyne

          To be an insufferable nitpicker, for me, I’d move the needle slightly to include 2010.

          But other than that absolutely agree with you.

          that period was great for SUVs as long as one avoids known clunkers. 2000 – 2010 were great for Japanese cars and certain domestic SUVs.

          Look for non-turbocharged, non-GDI engines. Look to the more popular models . Unless you’re a car buff, avoid the niche models as those cars will have more expense spare parts.

          Downsides: gas mileage by modern standards, and paucity of air bags by modern standards

      3. Toshiro_Mifune

        2008 cars have way fewer telematics than 2020 cars.
        At best, this one is arguable. 2008 would be well into the CAN-bus/EDR (Event Data Recorder) era. Even by the late 90s EDRs had become so ubiquitous NHTSA had to have a working group to figure out what to do about them and the data they collected (below from 2001).

        The age of mass computer control of a car or truck’s varying subsystems (MAP & MAF sensors, EBS, throttle by wire, GDI, etc) encompasses not only the 12 year old cars still on the road but most of the 20 year old cars as well. If anything it can be argued they’re less fragile and prone to failure than the purely mechanical systems on a `55 Bel Air and one of the reasons so many 15+ year cars still on the road. Obviously there are caveats to that.

        When I go to rent cars that are midrange or premium … they are flimsier on every dimension

        Well, that one is going to be subjective and dependent on marque and model. I would agree and a 2020 CLA 250 isn’t as solid feeling as a W123 diesel though.

        1. bob

          “The age of mass computer control of a car or truck’s varying subsystems (MAP & MAF sensors, EBS, throttle by wire, GDI, etc) encompasses not only the 12 year old cars still on the road but most of the 20 year old cars as well.”

          Most people don’t realize this. The thinking inside the engine has been done by ‘computers’ for a long time now. They are very reliable.

          The newer part is the entertainment center in the dash. They aren’t very good yet. They can’t even admit that knobs and buttons (hey Elon!) are still better than trying to touch a screen while you are trying to watch the road. Very bad ideas that just won’t go away. No, making the screen bigger doesn’t help.

          Anyone remember K-cars? I saw one the other day and was reminded of how they were all over the roads once upon a time and now are more or less completely extinct, as they should be.

          1. lordkoos

            The removal of physical knobs from controls is a big pet peeve of mine. As a musician and journeyman audio engineer I’m accustomed to being able to turn a knob and quickly get the desired result. I absolutely hate screwing around with digital menus whether on audio gear or autos, and in the latter case it distracts from driving which can be dangerous. The only reason knobs have been replaced is cost — there is no benefit to the end user, in fact the opposite.

            While there have been computers in cars for years (I had an early 70s Volvo sedan that had computer-controlled fuel injection), the onslaught of “smart” tech in the last ten years has been significant, and when buying a used car I try to stay pre-2010. I finally got rid of a 2003 Toyota Camry with 285,000 miles on it that I bought from my neighbor and replaced it with the a 2007 Camry. The newer car has some improvements but gets worse mileage and I wonder if it will go for as many miles as the older car did.

          2. albrt

            It seems to me there are at least two different computer issues – the invisible control systems have been around for more than 20 years but the more visible smart phone type doodads are more recent. They are integrated in newer cars, and both are probably subject to increasing intentional obsolescence. An “ignition as a service” business model would be very appealing to today’s MBAs.

            My two vehicles are a 1987 Toyota Pickup and a 1996 Ford Escort wagon. The Toyota needs more fiddling because everything is physical, but it is made of steel and is therefore feasible to keep repairing for a really long time (no rust in Arizona). I expect to drive the Toyota until gas engines are outlawed.

            The 1996 Escort was ubiquitous and amazingly reliable for such a cheap car, until a few years ago. The car contains a lot of plastic, and fewer after market parts are available. Escorts lasted longer than many prior cheap cars by making it to the 12-15 year time frame, but very few will make it to 25 years. I am looking forward to getting my antique plates for the Escort next year, but I don’t know how long I’ll be able to keep it going after that.

        2. Glen

          I agree that most people do not realize that almost every vehicle manufactured since the 80’s uses an Electronic Engine Controller (EEC), and that now most vehicles have over 20 computer controllers linked together with CAN bus.

          Here, you can see that Ford begin developing it’s version of EEC in 1971:

          Ford EEC

          And Canbus has been around since 1983:

          CAN bus

          So I have been working with manufacturing and automation my whole career, and what I have observed is a consolidation of the manufacturers of ICs, mainly driven by the PC market which has dramatically changed how electronics get designed and implemented.

          Increasingly, where we had previously implemented electronics that just ran, and you could replace, we are now seeing “throw away” electronics being used. The most obvious example is your smartphone. Spend $500 to get a phone, and then throw it away in three years and get another one. I do not want THAT embedded in my vehicle, but increasingly, that is what is being done.

          There is much more to this story, but it all points back to how we off shored our manufacturing, how we consolidated our companies down to very few, how the PMCs slashed costs at companies by wiping out in-house capabilities, and how we crapified our education.

      4. Carolinian

        I have a car made by Hyundai after 2010 and think it’s great. The truth is that computers in cars are a legal necessity due to the twin requirements of low pollution and high mileage. The only item in my car likely to become obsolete would be the “head unit” which is that screen in he middle of the dashboard. It is for the radio and the backup camera (another legal requirement) but it can be replaced by an aftermarket version–I’ve checked–because it doesn’t affect any driving functions.

        Your 2008 car also has a computer that controls the engine so there’s no escaping from it. In fact I previously had a much older car that still had a computer controlling the fuel injected engine because that feature has been around for a very long time.

      5. Skip

        My dad was a traveling salesman. A week before his 1951 wedding, in the pre-seatbelt era, some nut forced him off the road and he rolled his Buick three times across a ditch, and three times back, just hanging onto the steering wheel and praying the top didn’t collapse, which lucky for me did not. He never drove anything but a Buick afterwards, replacing them every two years not because they had issues but because he put on loads of country miles and wanted his car looking sharp. I kept up the LeSabre tradition driving a used ’90’s model many years until DC rigors and potholes finally nailed it. For the last several years a four grand 2008 Prius, a comparative rocketship of electronics, ferries us about, already paying for itself though I have to mostly ignore the off-tilt warning lights when they go wild. But my urban staff car for visiting VIP’s is a ’66 Corvair convertible. It gets thumbs-up street cred everywhere it goes, a rarity in DC where a flipped bird is standard. Once a young cop pulled me over and asked why I wasn’t wearing a shoulder seat belt. Imagine the crumple zone in the front trunk, the thickness of the metal, the sweet absence of electronics. In tribute to Ralph Nader I plan to get a bumper sticker, “Unsafe at Any Speed”, and hope I’m not tempting the fates.

        I do miss the ’72 Duster I drove for 22 years, until I lifted the floor mat and wondered if it had been owned by the Fintstones. The non-galvanized Duster was a ruster, (planned obsolescence?), but the simple slant-six engine was a marvel that would have flown forever.

        1. pasha

          my ’71 duster finally rusted away in ’85 after nearly 300,000 miles — but the slant six engine was still running strong (iirc it was originally designed during ww2 as a tractor engine)

          1. Tom Bradford

            When I was a lad I knew only of the four-cylinder engine and its “suck-squeeze-bang-blow” cycle.* Having owned my current Japanese run-about for three years I recently discovered it has only three cylinders so I’ve no idea if it sucks-and-squeezes, squeezes-and-bangs, bangs-and-blows or blows-and-sucks at the same time, but it certainly ain’t life as I remember it.

            *Or perhaps that was my love-life. Too old now to be sure.

    2. TheMog

      That’s an interesting one. I agree that there are plenty of 15-20 year old vehicles around. Heck, there are some in my garage here.

      However, one of the issues with throwing ever more computer technology at newer cars is that there is now a higher likelihood that once the manufacturer stops supplying parts at the 10 year mark, cars might be considered “economically unfixable” due to issues with the electronics. If your main interface to the car is a touch screen and the touch screen decides to take a permanent vacation, you suddenly have no speedo, control over the climate control, possibly seats and sod nows what else is controlled via said touch screen.

      For expensive cars the aftermarket has an incentive to develop fixes (like the issue with the Tesla Model S screens that stop working once the flash storage wears out), but I’m not sure the economic incentive will be there for “regular” cars that at that point might only be worth a few grand.

      1. Zamfir

        Are electronics different from other parts, in this respect? Car electronics are build to fairly high standards compared to most consumer electronics. They are designed to have a similar life time as other parts of the vehicle. A touch screen can economically kill an older car, but so can a gear box, or a suspension strut.

        1. PHLDenizen

          Don’t forget a lot of these electronics run software that gets EOL’ed fairly quickly. Just because it’s not physically broken doesn’t mean the manufacturer won’t stop providing updates to earlier models despite enough processing power and storage to run the new OS. Major security flaw discovered in that version of embedded Windows? Sorry. Buy a new car.

          I can buy a gearbox or a strut from the OEM or a third party and have my indy fix it, which can often times be much less expensive than having to drag it to the dealer. The third parties may also opt to manufacturer OEM-compatible parts for longer than the OEM. Once you get to touchscreens, etc. it’s more difficult. Car manufactures adamantly refuse to provide the repair software and tools that would allow a non-dealer to do the same things.

          1. bob

            “Major security flaw discovered in that version of embedded Windows?”

            The russians are trying to hack my subaru for its social security number too?

            In reality, any “security working properly” is what would limit aftermarket parts and fixes.

        2. Louis Fyne

          it all depends on the model. A great irony is that outsourcing production to China/etc. has reduced the cost of spare parts to the point it’s viable to supply parts for 15+ year old cars.

          The problem with electronics is the circuit boards—proprietary designs and code means that to fix a failing integrated clock-radio-HVAC unit, you have to replace the entire unit rather than merely swapping out the failing circuit board or capacitor. And sometimes such units can’t be found at any reasonable price.

          While for example with a conventional (non-CVT) transmission, a good transmission shop can fix most transmission failures with knowledge, parts and elbow grease.

          1. HotFlash

            I have found a magician in my town who fixes circuit boards. He doesn’t even have to know what they do — his main clients are hospitals and labs whose equipment is still running fine but the mfr no longer supports the electronics. (ka-ching!) I took him the failed circuitboard from my 7-yr-old boiler, supposed to switch betw supplying hot water to the rads and to my faucets, orig installer had said so sorry, mfr was sold and acquirer no longer supports but will give you a $1k credit on a new boiler, which would be $4-5K plus installation. Magician John fixed it for about $500.

            1. SteveW

              If it is a circuit board (no CUP chips etc), those talented fixers can test and replace the individual components. Most of the time, the failed parts are the capacitors with the materials aging but could be any other components as well. The difficulty is to find those fixers, worth their weigh in gold. In our days growing up in the 60s, the nerds then were either dithering with electronic Hi-Fi or fixing hot rods so there are some older folks around who can work on those circuit boards. Good luck finding them though.

        3. TheMog

          Electronics tend to be harder to fix than mechanical parts, at least unless the manufacturer provides schematics. They might even need to provide schematics and code – in a lot of newer cars, components are first connected to the car and then have to be keyed to its electronics, which requires specific software. That software isn’t necessarily freely available, and even if you can get it, how long do you keep it? You might end up with a nice stack of old laptops in your shop in the hope that the one you need boots up years down the line when you need it.

          Of course the other problem is that most of the communications is over CAN-BUS (yes, your newer car has a network). If 15 years down the line, I need to replace a part that communicates over CAN-BUS and requires to speak manufacturer-specific protocols (which most, if not all of them do), the aftermarket might not be able to supply the part if they never got access to or reverse engineered the manufacturer’s protocol. So in the extreme, you might have a car that’s scrap because you can’t get a window switch that talks to the body control unit anymore.

          It’s actually those modules that have me more concerned than the electronics controlling the drivetrain. For those, there are aftermarket solutions that could potentially be adapted (not cheap), albeit not necessarily legal when it comes to emissions requirements.

          1. Zamfir

            Then again, CANbus is hardly new. You talk about 15 year down the line, but 15 year old cars today are already in that position. And as yet, they are kept somewhat longer on the road than in the past. Perhaps canbus is helping, by reducing the electric gremlins that used to plague older cars. Perhaps it’s not helping, but then its not hurting much either.

            People may be focussing too much on how they could, theoretically, keep cars going, as opposed to how most older cars are treated in reality. Now and in the past.

            Louis Fyne above writes how a transmission shop can fix most issues, if they try hard enough – as opposed to touch screens where they may never succeed without a replacement part.

            You write below how many mechanical parts could be made from scratch if need be, but electronic parts are harder to recreate.

            But most older cars will not be painstakingly renovated like that – it’s not worth the hours, regardless whether it’s possible in theory. For the average effect, it’s more important to add a single year to the whole fleet, than to add another decade to a select number of cherished vehicles.

      2. Carolinian

        If your main interface to the car is a touch screen

        I agree that this is a bad thing and in fact the recent Tesla recall was about the screen which apparently is the only ‘instrument’ in the car. Perhaps Tesla buyers don’t care if their care lasts 20 years and gosh knows they have plenty of other problems to worry about.

        I’d worry a lot less about car processor “modules” not being available in the future. If there’s a market for it the Chinese will make it (assuming we aren’t at war with them by then).

      3. JohnnySacks

        Probably depends on how much of a unicorn it is. Very popular high volume cars like the 4 never fails: Civic/Corolla/Camry/Accord will probably have longer parts availability and better generally available repair knowledge than poorly made, overly complex hybrids, and lower volume vehicles. The high end Audi-BMW-Mercedes-Volvo models all over the roads are going to be tough to get through DMV inspections in their old age. I think the half million mile stories for those brands are going to be fewer than they were for the 70s and 80s. The worst of the problem for me is the obsolescence forced on us via the dreaded dashboard warning light. Off to the shop for a stab and replace, thousand here – thousand there, for stuff which doesn’t make the any more drivable than it was before bringing it in. If the Russians or Czechs had to put up with this nonsense, there’d be firmware hacks out there to get around it all.

        1. cnchal

          > . . . the obsolescence forced on us via the dreaded dashboard warning light.

          This is from the magazine Roundel, a BMW cult member’s magazine, dated Sep. 2018 by regular contributor, Mark Buehler.

          It wasn’t plan A. I intended to keep Das Boot, our 2011 Mercedes E550, until it died or I did. Then the “check engine” light went on and things got ugly. The repair cost quickly exceeded its value,, and it needed at least another $2,000 in work that I knew of to replace leaky plastic reservoirs and gaskets. Unlike what was required to deal with the warning light, those parts were cheap, unfortunately, getting those cheap parts into place would have required taking off most of the front end of the car


          Seven years, 134,000 miles and kaput.

          1. Rtah100

            I bought a 2002 Audi All road in 2012 and ran it until 2020. It died with 18years and 170k miles on the clock. It was fully maf’d and canbus’d up..

            The main parts to replace were the air suspension struts and bags abd the suspension controller chip.

            There were also expensive scheduled replacement cycles of cam belts and a wholly unnecessary £5k of damage caused by a transmission fluid loss on the motorway (!) when the cam belt work was done shoddily and fault finding work because the water pump timing was just off, from the same cam belt job. If I had not gone to a cheap garage for that belt job, it would have cost much less! The symptoms of the water pump was the dreaded trifecta of traction control, engine management and air suspension lights coming on and the transmission defaulting to “limp home” mode. All because the engine would get confused by the water pump reading, imagine its wheels and crank speeds were uncorrelated and panic!

            I loved that car though….

    3. Zamfir

      Yeah, this. It’s surprising how often people use cars as example of deteriorating quality standards, while the numbers say that cars last longer and require less maintenance, in a slowly improving trend that has been going on for many decades, and shows up across the world.

      That’s exactly because cars are not designed, and not bought, as throw-away products. It’s a fairly unique consumer market where buyers are well aware of resale value and depreciation, and they are willing to pay significantly extra for cars with a reputation of longevity and low depreciation. Older used cars effectively cover the market space that would covered by cheap new products in most consumer markets.

      I wonder why people do turn to cars as examples of of low modern quality, and talk highly about rust buckets form the past as example of high quality. There are still cars from 1955 on the road, rare leftovers that get cared for by enthusiasts. But plenty of cars from 1955 were scrapped by 1965.

      1. PHLDenizen

        As the owner of a 2011 Mazda CX-9 GT at 86k (which I am in no hurry to replace), your analysis is a bit reductive. I’ve had issues with on-board electronics whose design has made it difficult to compensate for their old age. For instance, the in-dash navigation system still relies on map sets sitting on DVDs, not flash memory. It doesn’t support Bluetooth 4+ or Apple CarPlay — both available on newer cars. The UI is torpid and clunky, as are Bluetooth connections.

        You’ll argue it’s a matter of just throwing in a newer head from Pioneer or similar. Ok. Guess what? Removing the OE head breaks the climate control system and the other in-dash clock. Now I’m reliant on yet another 3rd party manufacturer to build an adapter that fixes the issue, which is another possibly brittle link that depends on how long THAT part is made and how well their firmware works. The proprietary Bose (“Premium”) audio system is another headache with an amplifier that needs to be bypassed. Some of the speaker sizes are also non-standard. Yes, the car is drivable. But the amenities that sell the upgraded trim lines suffer from tech rot. The audio sucks, the nav system sucks, and it doesn’t support things like CarPlay.

        Any manufacturer serious about designing for longevity would make the electronics hot swappable or collaborate on a unified standard. Nope. Instead they work in closed ecosystems, integrating in-dash units deeply into the rest of the car with the only upgrade path being the purchase of a new vehicle. So, sure, the car is technically drivable but the rest of the “experience” is held hostage by a lifecycle driven by the same forces that plague the tech industry. Consider it a parallel to gluing laptops and phones together.

        “Require less maintenance” is also untrue. Consumables still exist: spark plugs, brake pads and rotors, tires, timing chains/belts, exhaust components that eventually rust, filters, etc. When things like drivetrain controllers DO break, they are incredibly expensive and the hostility toward right to repair laws means the dealers have a monopoly on repairs.

        The telematics Yves alludes to are often not disclosed, making it impossible to know how much of your car is a snitch. Not being able to opt out means your driving habits are back-channeled to insurance companies, who can then use it to set rates without letting you know what inputs go into their black box algorithms. Same way those voluntary “wellness programs” can disclose your health data to third parties and escape HIPAA compliance.

        “Crapification” is appropriate.

        1. Basil Pesto

          well, hang on, you’re talking about upgrading an outmoded head unit which no longer suits your needs, doesn’t have carplay and bluetooth etc. That’s a bit different from the question of being able to repair a broken one. That’s shifting the goalposts. Although I can sympathise with your frustration at not being able to easily swap it out, I think the question of repair is a lot more important than upgrade, and the shortcomings of the old infotainment system and room for future improvement were surely readily apparent at the time it was new. Of course the extra tech features of a 10 year old car are more likely than not going to be crappier than a new one. That’s how things work.

      2. Koldmilk

        Having last bought a new car in 2016 (replacing a 2006 car) I remember two noticeable trends when researching the available models:

        (1) As Yves said, much more electronics.

        (2) The warranty periods were longer, for the mechanical parts.

        For the car I eventually bought, the warranty for the entertainment/navigation system, was 3 years, while the warranty on the engine, drive train, etc., is 5 years.

        In comparison, my 2006 car had been 3 years for everything. (My previous, and first car, from 1986 had a 1 year warranty.)

        Many models I looked at in 2016 had only 2 years on electronics, while the warranty on mechanical parts was usually 4 or 5 years.

        So the improvement in quality is not evenly distributed, and the manufacturers expect the electronics to fail sooner.

        (I decided to replace the otherwise fine 2006 car for safety reasons: no side airbags. Having been in a crash in a rental car, I realised how essential they were.)

      3. rhodium

        The in-laws and extended family used to religiously buy modern Fords that got critical breakdown issues at 150k miles every time. They scoffed when I suggested buying Toyotas instead. A few of them elected to get used Hondas in the last few years and they are now perpetually amazed by the odometer.

        1. Wukchumni

          I grew up with a 1966 blue Ford station wagon and we did a few family road trips to Calgary in 1967 & 1972, and I was one of 8 in it (my parents would be arrested for cramming so many in a vehicle today) and remember the latter trip in that the car broke down so often, by the time we were driving back to Cali, things that got fixed early in the trip were breaking down again, this on a 6 year old car with i’m guessing 50k miles on the odometer.

          In comparison, my 11 year old Toyota truck is @ around 150k miles, and i’d drive it to Calgary tomorrow, if I had to and they’d let me through the border.

        2. Louis Fyne

          everyone has their own reasons for buying a car….but yes if yours is reliable, reasonably priced, non-glamorous transport, get a Toyota or Honda (Acura, Lexus too).

          Ample parts, big knowledge base among mechanics and owners, and the skeletons of those cars (transmission, engine, electrical wiring) are *usually* top notch.

      4. TheMog

        Yeah, this. It’s surprising how often people use cars as example of deteriorating quality standards, while the numbers say that cars last longer and require less maintenance, in a slowly improving trend that has been going on for many decades, and shows up across the world.

        I wouldn’t necessarily say that the quality has decreased. They are generally more reliable and last longer than in the past.

        That said, the repairability has suffered IMHO. Most mechanical parts can be remade – at a cost, and you might have to have the resources of Jay Leno’s shop at your disposal – whereas the electronics that are central to the function of a car can’t necessarily be reverse engineered and replaced that easily.

        If I need a new engine block, crank, camshaft or other drivetrain parts, there is someone out there who can make them. Worst case as a one-off.

        If a control module decides I can only turn on the left headlight and lower the right rear window, you have to reverse engineer a lot of complex electronics to fix something that might be caused by a bad driver’s window switch once you can’t get new/refurbished modules from the manufacturer. And the module might not be repairable if you can’t get the spare parts, which is something that’s been happening more and more in the computer industry.

      5. HotFlash

        Grew up in Big Three country myself during the ’60’s and this is what I saw then, informed by a few years in the ’70’s working at a Chrysler dealership. The well-to-do (drs, dentists, lawyers, business bigwigs) and those who wished to seem so (eg salesmen and real estate agents) bought new Lincolns, Oldsmobiles, Buicks, Cadillac every two years. Period. Those cars were serviced regularly for the warranty and in good condition when resold, usu by the dealership, to the second tier, teachers, middle management, guys like my dad, etc., or sometimes kept as a second car for wife or teens. Mtce at this level was more spotty. When resold usu by an independent used car lot (dealers might take them in trade, but would wholesale them out ASAP). Mtce considerably less consistent, often DIY or shade-tree. MI salts for snow, so rust a big problem. Pattern of trade-in, each time car going to lower echelon until finally ending up on blocks in a po’ folks drive or behind the outbuildings. My first car was an aged Ford Fairlane off a sleazy lot for $600.

        Then came Japanese cars!!! I was in Canada by then, and working first in bikes, auto dealership (GM) and later in industrial machinery so I saw a lot. The first Honda Civics were small and very affordable entry-level cars, chosen by singles, young couples and other first time buyers. Bonus! The ‘sticker price’ was the price you paid, not like the Big Three model where it was a ‘base price’ and ‘options’ such as automatic trans, power brakes, steering wheel, tires, etc. (I jest) were extra. Japanese warranty service much better, too — when you took your car and your little bookie in to the dealer, it cost *exactly* what they said it would. Whereas, at the Chrysler where dealership I worked, the main job of the ‘service assistants’ was to upsell you. Unf, the first Civics rusted out in one or two Canadian winters. Then I watched as the Japanese mfrs bounced back — better rustproofing and larger cars to accommodate us larger North Americans, as well as a higher end model, the Accord, for second- and third-time buyers.

        The Big Three responded with smaller cars, but since ‘small cars mean small profits’, they did it on the cheap, such as the horrendous Chevette. Rented a Scooter once and there wasn’t even room for my lady-feet in the passenger side and my shoulder touched the window. They should have called it the Skateboard. And the K-cars, remember those? They also tried outsourcing to Japanese mfrs, eg the outrageous Colts and Arrows built by Mitsubishi. But they did it the Big Three way and failed to order enough parts to go with the cars. A turn signal on my leased one failed early on, but they had only brought in replacements for the automatic transmission version, I had a manual trans on the tree and many, many months went by with me making three right turns since I couldn’t signal a left. At our dealership we kept one lady’s Arrow with similar problem until the warranty period was expired and then, “Sorry, ma’am.” True story!

        When my boyfriend-at-the-time’s parents (he a lawyer, she a ‘retired’ concert pianist) came up from New York to visit, she insisted on coming in the Lincoln instead of the Accord. He drove but grumbled about the lack of legroom, the lack of trunk space (in a car half-a-block long!), mushy handling, and tuna-boaty ride. When his second-best Accord (driven by college student son) got rear-ended he put it in the local buy-and-sell. Minutes after it hit the newsstands he got a frantic call, “Please, hold on to it, I’ll be right over with cash!” And the guy was, with more phone calls coming in for weeks.

        Meanwhile, at the industrial equip co I was seeing huge orders for sheaves (pulleys and such, used for production lines, this kind of stuff although a different co.), first to tool up the K-car lines in Windsor, then more going to China. One of the salesmen told me he figured that these would be his last big sales. The K-car was a bust (too light, poor design, poor engineering), the Chinese etc would just copy the equipment he was selling and he would be out of a job. And so it came to be as he said.

        File under: They Did It To Themselves.

    4. jhallc

      Despite all the new electronics in cars in the last 10 years there has been very little stylistic change for the last 15 -20 years for most models. If there is no esthetic or other attachment reason then what’s the reason to keep them running after the cost of maintenance is prohibitive. I can’t tell the difference from a BMW passing me these days from a Buick unless I’ve caught a view of the front grill in my mirror. On the other hand my 2006 Miata will probably stay in my driveway for as long as I can still climb in and out of it.

      1. Alex Vaivars

        I’d argue this is primarily due to the drive for fuel efficiency. There are only so many ways you can package an engine, 4 adults and their luggage in an aerodynamic way. Computer simulations of the fluid dynamics have caused the major manufacturers to converge on a few solutions to the problem. Electric drivetrains may expand the packaging a little, but not much.

    5. upstater

      In upstate NY, Road salt takes care of the old car matter. If you drive daily in winter, salt will destroy the underbody and most everything that hangs down there like brake gear, brake lines, even “stainless steel” exhaust systems.

      In 2019 we sold a 2003 Honda minivan, which I’d have liked to have kept, but was out voted 1-1. It still was in decent shape, with no body rust and the only major repairs being new brakes all around (brake calipers were so rusted I couldn’t do it myself). I would wash the underbody whenever temperatures were abouve freezing all those years.

      We got a Subaru Forester and paid extra for a 10 year warranty because of all the electronics. While some disagree about the safety features, at 66, I have come to appreciate them. In the past couple of months I rented cars lacking these features and notice the opportunity for error is decidedly higher. And I don’t think I’m a bad driver (just don’t ask the other half!)

      1. curlydan

        That’s what I hate is the warranty to cover all the computerized crap. When I bought a 2013 Honda Odyssey many years ago, we got the fear speech about “we don’t cover if the computerized systems fail after x years”, and we would up buying that warranty–foolishly I later thought.

        I also have a 2003 Lexus that is barely hanging on. The dashboard is like a Christmas tree of lights–practically every warning sign is lit up, and I have no idea why :) I drive it about once a week

        1. Louis Fyne

          “The dashboard is like a Christmas tree of lights”

          this is a classic symptom of a dying alternator.

          You can check it yourself with a multimeter, or many auto parts stores offer a free inspection.

          I would not drive this car far from home, particularly at night this time of year, and would make sure that my AAA is paid up.

          A dead alternator = stranded by the roadside.

    6. Grateful Dude

      I have a 5-speed ’95 lexus sport coupe -210 k miles, a 2000 MB E320 Wagon – 150k miles, and a ’97 Fi50 – 200k miles.

      Only serious age problems I have are with the MB. No explanation. The cabin electronics are all controlled by a central network processor: very hard to diagnose and expensive to fix. When the seat switch broke the windows stopped working. Then when I replaced the seat switch, the windows were ok but the locks stopped working. Replacement keys only from MB for almost $300. Bummer. Interior coming apart. Body rust. oy. Runs great though. 150k is barely post adolescent in these beasts normally. Sigh.

      The Lex is a keeper. What a great machine. Complex for it’s year but none of that integrated into an internet observer. I’m slowly reconditioning it. Collision insurance will only cover $2800 to total, but still costs as much as a new car. So somebody else can crash into my car and their insurance will only pay blue book. Huh? I suppose I could sue. Try to find one. Only a few-1000 manual trans SCs were made. This SC is to-die-for Latino low-rider material.

      And the pickup just keeps running. People restore old F-150s around here. I paid less than $1k for it 3 years ago.

      Shopping now for a ’00s Corolla. Some deals out there.

  4. TheMog

    Quick note on the vaccine rollout in West Virginia article – while it mentions that the state partnered with local pharmacies rather than the two nationwide ones, it chains to be fairly silent on the why (or I haven’t had enough caffeine yet).

    Local-ish news here in WV pointed out that one of the big reasons for this is that WV is one of the few states were mom-n-pop pharmacies are still a vast majority of pharmacies, and the two national chains don’t have that much market penetration compared to the rest of the country.

    1. Mike

      Could it be that WV is poorer state, and the nationwide chains, seeing the mom’n’pop domination, don’t wish to fight for the smaller “market”? Is “market penetration” the correct term to use for this phenomenon?

    2. Louis Fyne

      One benefit of WV’s geography…..a country mile (10 miles) around me is no big deal.

      Presumably a country mile (as the crow flies) in WV can be a big deal with the mountains, dampening the returns to scale that the hypermarts have.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      “Pharmacy Ownership Laws”
      “One U.S. state, North Dakota, and more than a dozen European countries have laws that require pharmacies be owned by pharmacists, not chains. These laws ensure that pharmacies are run by people whose first allegiance is to the provision of health care in their communities, rather than to the bottom line of a distant retail corporation.”

      I do not know the laws in West Virginia but would suspect there is some aspect of the state laws that tends to favor pharmacies owned by pharmacists, or local ownership.

    4. Jeff W

      …WV is one of the few states were mom-n-pop pharmacies are still a vast majority of pharmacies, and the two national chains don’t have that much market penetration compared to the rest of the country.

      This NPR piece (which was in the Links yesterday) basically says that as well, in case anyone is wondering why that sounds familiar:

      For one thing, West Virginia has been charting its own path to vaccine distribution. All 49 other states signed on with a federal program partnering with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate long-term care and assisted living facilities. But those chain stores are less common in West Virginia, so the state instead took charge of delivering its vaccine supply to 250 pharmacies — most of them small, independent stores.

      I’d be curious as to which factor(s) mentioned by the other commenters—state laws, its topography, its relative poorness, some combination, or something else entirely—brought about this situation of “mom-and-pop domination” in pharmacies in West Virginia.

      And if North Dakota has laws requiring that its pharmacies be owned by pharmacists and not chains, why did it not opt out of the ”federal program partnering with CVS and Walgreens to vaccinate long-term care and assisted living facilities”? (And, incidentally, North Dakota just edged out West Virginia as the #1 state in percentage of distributed vaccines that have been administered (67.58% vs. 65.32%), at least as of today.)

  5. timbers

    Like I said, it’s President Mitch McConnel:

    “The top two Senate leaders are nearing a power-sharing agreement to hash out how the divided chamber will operate, with Democrats in charge of setting the schedule but both parties likely to hold an equal number of seats on Senate committees, sources say.:

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      So much for Bernie’s budget committee “chairmanship” being a “game-changer,” even though it wouldn’t seem that the uniparty has much to worry about on that front.

      1. Mike

        The question arises within me, how much did Bernie anticipate this happening, considering all the Dems did to undo his campaign, and how much the “progressive” limb of the party has been, — umm — circumvented?

        Could he be that stupid??? Not to be disrespectful to a man who brought many questions forward, but…

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          The fact that Bernie kept talking about a revolution said he knew what he was up against. He was not able to bring enough outside pressure on the Dems.

          But you also forget that Covid was a big blow to his campaign. His rallies had been powerful demonstrations of his support as well as effective recruitment for GOTV efforts.

    2. PHLDenizen

      I read that as a “power sharing” agreement between Mitch and his Dem counterpart Joe Manchin. As long as the Democrats live in abject terror of losing a DINO seat to the genuine Republican article, they’re all going to be held hostage to him. “Control of the floor” in my mind extends to actually passing legislation that is markedly more progressive than “bipartisan” moderate drivel. Pointing that out finds my social circle bowing their heads to the Cult of the Norms Fairy or insisting I endorse Trump. The latter accusation is mystifying.

      “Helped write” and “fought for” will again rear their heads in the sloganeering of campaign ads, window dressing to disguise the lack of concrete achievement. AOC has already glommed onto that strategy.

      And the mid-terms will become another “can’t upset the blue dogs or we lose everything” berating.

      1. neo-realist

        Just gotta elect more (progressive/reasonable as opposed to blue dog) democrats, if possible, in the mid-terms, to neutralize DINO’s like Manchin. I’m sure that AOC and other progressives have no control over this power sharing nonsense.

        In the meantime, dems may have no choice but to somewhat, at the least, accommodate people like Manchin if they are going to get anything done.

        1. michael99

          Seats in the House of Representatives carry a two year term. Every two years is another chance for a progressive to win a seat. Also, House districts aren’t even statewide let alone national, which means grassroots, face-to-face campaigning is much more doable, and much less money is required to run for the House than the Senate or the Presidency.

          For these reasons the House seems like the natural point of attack for progressives to establish a firmer foothold within the federal government. Besides, the House is the most democratic institution of the US government. Wouldn’t it be cool to see progressives take it over?

    3. ChiGal in Carolina

      Again we have an example of how Twitter reinforces contextless cheerleading/booing that takes up the space where a more intelligent exchange of ideas should be.

      The precedent for this arrangement was set the last time the Senate was so evenly divided, when Bush was awarded the presidency by the SC. If they follow precedent, all chairs will Dems and a majority vote in committee will not be required for the bill to proceed to the wider Senate; that is, a tie vote will be sufficient.

      Not sure it’s just about the Dems, Krystal, more as Katniss says, the Uniparty.

  6. Wukchumni

    7 years ago nearly to the day in the midst of our long drought, I spied what seemed to be a smoke plume far in the distance and called dispatch @ Sequoia NP to report it, and was told it was in the Golden Trout Wilderness, and had been labeled the ‘Soda Fire’.

    The idea that there could be a fire @ 6-7k feet in the winter blew my mind-as normally there’d be 5 feet of snow there, and it burned through about 1,500 acres before extinguishing itself, and I remember reading a report late in the game a month later which said something like ‘the fire is hemmed in by snow on the north, south, east & west’.

    We have the very same conditions today with practically no snow up to around 9k, and hurricane type winds (NOAA today: gages in the Madera county foothills have been reporting wind gusts in the 45 to 55 mph range. Until the Cascadel Heights gage went offline at midnight, east winds gusted to 110 mph!) expected in much of the state, meaning we could have something similar to the wind-driven Creek Fire which consumed 380k acres.

    1. Tom Stone

      Wuk, winds in excess of 80 MPH here in Sonoma County and fire season officially began Sunday.
      Last year’s fire season ended the Monday after Christmas.
      it’s going to be a long year…

  7. The Rev Kev

    “‘I had no qualms’: The people turning in loved ones for the Capitol attack”

    At least there will be no personal blowback for all those people that reported on family members to the FBI. It’s not like a Biden Presidency will do stuff that will cause some of these people to take to the streets and wondering if they too will be in turn be betrayed by their family. Or that there will be an FBI leak on those people’s names. Or that eventually the FBI will use this cooperation as leverage for future ‘favours.’

    This is really sad this. When East Germany came apart, all the files of the Stasi suddenly became available including all the informants names. I was watching a documentary on this episode of history and one woman talking in this doco, who was an activist, found out that her own husband was informing the Statsi against her. A lot of relationships got destroyed back then and now I see the same happening here-

    1. Basil Pesto

      Well, a key difference is that the DDR and the Stasi applied a lot of pressure on citizens over a long period of time to spy and inform on each other. In this case, people seem to be doing it of their own volition, because they feel that people should face consequences for their actions, which were not insubstantial – again, unlike many of the infractions reported in the DDR. Whether one should put a state as mediocre as the United States circa 2021 on a pedestal higher than members of one’s own family would depend on the mediocrity of the family member in question, I suppose.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I suppose that the truth of the matter is that when you have a society that has been purposely ‘atomized’, that it is easier for individuals to report on family members. The bonds are not so strong between people. What troubles me is that the US government is actively encouraging this, even though they have the technological ability to probably give you the social security numbers of nearly all the people that were at the Capital. I don’t think that this will end well this.

        1. njbr

          If you have ever had years of contact with relatives or former friends who have become deeply embedded in the mire of Qanon and “Trump is annointed by god”–and come to realize that they are mentally disordered to the extent that they are literally willing to kill in the name of Trump or Q, yes, turn them in. By the time this has happened, the love and concern has turned into “this person is dangerous”.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I understand your point. But is it so different when another portion of the population believes heart and soul in Russiagate? That Russia caused Trump to be elected President and not any underlying problems in American economic society. That they hate all things Russian now? What is to be done with them? Of course I have no idea where they could be getting such an idea from-


            And beware of any talk of 9/11 Commissions and the like. It was through such a special commission that one of my ancestors got an all-expenses paid ticket out to the Colonies – one way.

            1. lordkoos

              I would say that Russiagate and Q-Anon are hardly equivalent. While both are fantasies, the Q-Anon people appear to be much more destructive and more willing to act out.

              1. lyman alpha blob

                There are people in the Donbass region who would likely disagree with your assessment. Of course many wouldn’t disagree too vehemently, being dead and all.

          2. cocomaan

            I have Democrat relatives that have said people on the other side of the political aisle should be assassinated. At Christmas Eve dinner, no less.

            The key takeaway is that humans should never be killed over politics. Radical, I know.

            1. Enver "Bonkers for Bunkers" Hoxha

              I have to disagree. The Romanovs and Bourbons got what they deserved and should set the example for all current and aspiring aristocrats.

            2. Mike

              It is coming to the time when Christopher Lasch’s book “The Culture of Narcissism” should be required reading for all mainstream Democrats. The hubris and egotism is becoming fairly obvious.

              1. Lambert Strether

                > hubris and egotism

                Hubris, egotism, inability to self-reflect, inability to accept responsibility for failure even learn from it, and complete inability to grant those outside their class moral agency or even humanity. I try to avoid the word toxic, but it is a toxic brew.

        2. Basil Pesto

          even though they have the technological ability to probably give you the social security numbers of nearly all the people that were at the Capital.

          This is a salient point, I think. Could it be that the capacity/capability of US intelligence is not as strong as we assume it to be? Certainly, that the most well endowed intelligence apparatus in history couldn’t see the events of Jan 6 coming (when the planning wasn’t exactly clandestine) should be a huge embarrassment to them. Or they knew it was coming and were happy to let it take place, for whatever reason.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            My godfather was in the CIA many moons ago, and one of the reasons he left was the information overload was obviously a crippling problem in the 60’s. Everyone who was anyone handed him “sensitive” material all the time in the country he was stationed. In his opinion, real reporters did a better job bringing information to electeds. His general view was most of the operation could be scaled down to the original idea of “desks” to provide experts when a hotspot popped up. They aren’t making spy thrillers about this country.

            As for outfits like the FBI, isn’t Comey the mentee of one of Hoover’s inner circle? At some point, you have to see these kinds of places as garbage in garbage out.

          2. lordkoos

            If our surveillance apparatus is supposedly so far-reaching and pervasive, why then are law enforcement then incapable of preventing incidents like mass shootings and the capitol riots? In many cases the perpetrators announce their intentions on social media ahead of time, and yet…

          3. cocomaan

            I’ll do you one better: how about the covid crisis? I haven’t heard a peep from the intelligence services or any of them offering to help with what has got to be the most damaging national security crisis the country has ever seen.

            Forgive the caps lock, but WHERE ARE THEY? Where are the intelligence services? What in the world are they doing right now?

            1. Basil Pesto

              what would you have them do, and how would you have them publicise it so you knew they were doing it?

            2. K.k

              Cocomaan@ 6:05


              Supposedly they recognized it in china , yet managed to miss it at home. Hmmm, yeah, ok.


              It gets worse. The Chinese Cdc released a study few weeks ago that discussed the blood sample collected in april 2020. The implications of this paper are disturbing. Frankly, i dont know what to make of it. They tested around 12,000 blood samples they collected in April from six cities and provinces outside Hubei. They found only 2 out of 12,000 that showed sars cov 2 antibodies. Yet in the u.s according to npr link above we had 106 out of 7,389 testing positive for the antibodies from nine different states. Samples collected in mid December to early January!

              Now if you take the time to do the math and extrapolate as was done with the Wuhan and Hubei data and extrapolate the numbers of infections for the U.S you come up with over a million infections in the u.s in January! Yet according the study released by the Chinese Cdc, which no one is disputing, they did not hit those kinds of numbers till March, April. I can not make sense of this. Are the Chinese fudging the numbers? Every outlet sure did not mind running that story a few weeks ago without realizing its implications. I understand this kind of extrapolation inly gives a general idea, but this is quite strange. Can someone please help me understand the flaw in my reasoning? Im trying to remain agnostic about all this.


              This ofcourse does not mean the virus began in the U.S. If we are to take this information at face value, it sure seems less likely it started in Wuhan. Sure would like to see more data from Europe.
              The other thing Im wondering about is weather u.s health or other government authorities have been collecting blood sample throughout the pandemic. Where is the research?

              I hope this post isnt out of line. Its relevant to articles posted here in the links section in the past. I suspect im missing something obvious and would like to know what you all think.

    2. Wukchumni

      It wasn’t only East Germany, my parents went to Czechoslovakia nearly every year from 1973 until (my father had been sentenced to death in absentia-his crime being fleeing the country and he had to wait 25 years for things to cool off) my dad passed away early this century.

      Both of my parents speak Czech and we have lots of relatives in Prague, so they were tourists but not your usual American ones.

      My mom told me there was great fear in abundance among the populace-no different than Stasi, but sans German efficiency, everybody ratting out one another.

      On one of those early trips, my dad discovered that you could buy Czech Koruna in banks in Vienna for around 30 to the $, as opposed to the official rate in CZ, which was around 12 to the $, and he was all about arbitrage, thinking he was onto something.

      So, they arrive in Prague, and my mom tells my aunt of their currency exchange and she just about goes ballistic on my mom, telling her this is a great offense and if somebody finds out the family will be in deep kimchi, and strongly advised my mom to place the rolled up bankroll in her vagina, so as to hide the evidence of her crime.

      In the end nothing happened, aside from my parents realization that no matter how good of a deal you got on exchange rates, it didn’t make any difference as there was scant opportunities to buy anything aside from heavy leaded crystal glass objects.

      1. vlade

        The crystal was one of the few sought-after consumer exports from not just the CSSR, but whole of the Soviet bloc.

        If you ever get to Prague again, let me know and I’ll tak you for a beer or three :)

        1. Wukchumni

          If you ever get to Prague again, let me know and I’ll tak you for a beer or three :)

          I feel certain that’ll happen and would love to hoist a few pints…

          First time I flew into Prague with a buddy in the mid 90’s, we were waiting for friends on another flight and went off to the bar in search of barley soda, and a half liter of Pilsner Urquel @ the airport was a princely 71 Cents, and when we met up with my cousin in town and told of the what to me was a giveaway price, he pooh poohed it and took me to his local pub where half liters were 25 Cents.

          My dad went to his 50th high school reunion in 1991 and related to me that the 3 course dinner for 17 classmates was $16, he treated the student body, ha!

        2. Carla

          For years, I have been enjoying dripless and self-extinguishing taper candles made in the Czech Republic and sold by Trader Joe’s. They were only sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and they’re the nicest candles I have ever been able to find, so I would stock up each year. In 2020, no Czech candles at Trader Joe’s — in fact, no taper candles at all — just votives and other stubby styles. Now I’m having to hoard my remaining supply, but sadly, they won’t last long… To me, candles on the table make even a pizza, dinner!

          Vlade, you live in a beautiful city. I have great memories of my one visit there, in 2003… This year, I finally discovered a recipe for red cabbage that approximates the version we enjoyed in Prague.

          1. Wukchumni

            Paris is the pretty girl next door, while Prague is a ravishing supermodel in comparison.

            Czechs of my father’s generation to a person blamed the English & French for selling them down the river @ Munich in 1938, but in retrospect it took Prague out of the war largely, when it could’ve easily suffered the same fate as Warsaw.

            Shift happens.

      2. David

        When I was first in Prague in, oh, early 91, as the debris from the end of the Cold War was still bouncing, I was told by my (government) escort that crystal was already disappearing rapidly as Germans drove across the frontier, bought everything they could lay their hands on, and took it back to sell at a massive profit. Oddly enough, classical CDs by Czech artists were very good value, and I remember buying a handful at the equivalent of a couple of pounds each, more to help the economy than anything else.

        1. Wukchumni

          It was a wild time just after the fall of the Bloc Party, we had real estate in the family which had been in limbo under Communism that was now back in the family, and relatives sold it off for a pittance (think around $5-10k for something in Prague) because it was worth precisely bupkis only shortly before. And to somebody looking up from the gloom of 40 long years of being in jail, it must have felt like hitting the lottery.

  8. Steve D

    The ‘Joggers and Cyclists should wear masks…’ article in The Conversation cites as one of its primary sources a JAMAnetwork paper that was demonstrated (IMO – clearly) to be junk science by Heather Heying in recent DarkHorse podcast. The condensed version is that the JAMA Network authors constructed a model that was guaranteed to ‘predict’ the outcome that they wanted.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t know which link you are referring to, but it should be pointed out that the author, Trish Greenhaugh, has been consistently demonstrated to be right in her arguments for more mask usage from the very beginning of the pandemic. This does not mean she is correct now, but she is an acknowledged expert on the topic who has been central to changing the narrative within the public health community.

      1. Petter

        The link in the Conversation article Steve is referring to is this one- from the article:
        Over half of all cases of COVID are acquired from people who have no symptoms at the time they pass it on.
        The “Over half” is a link to this:

        Evolutionary biologist Dr. Heather Heying deconstructs this research paper in the Darkhorse Podcast #63, starting at 28:45.
        Incidentally, she and her husband, Dr. Bret Weistein, also an evolutionary biologist, advised the wearing of masks way back in March of last year, in one of their first Darkhorse podcasts. And also advised that if masks were unavailable, wear a bandana.

  9. LaRuse

    Re: Joggers and cyclists should wear masks
    Thank you for this. I am a runner and I carry a mask on every run. My neighborhood sees very few pedestrians, but is populated largely by people of color, usually in an older age bracket than myself, and nearly entirely economically precarious since we bought our house 16 years ago when our combined net incomes came to less than $50K annually in a neighborhood we could afford to live in. When I do see pedestrians, they are either walking to work (no public transportation here and all low wage jobs like McD’s or Food Lion, therefore likely sans health insurance, too) or they are retirees trying to stay active and healthy.
    Do I really believe pulling on my mask while I am puffing along makes an incredible difference? Not really.
    I’ve used bandannas, paper procedure masks, and a neck gator. None of them stopped my breath from polluting the air altogether, but they don’t hurt me to use – particularly since the masks stay down unless there are people in the vicinity (including people in their yards). I can actually see that masks slow the speed of the aerosols I exhale and the distance they float on cold days so that has to help at least a little, and the mask signal to my neighbors that this fairly privileged white woman who has had the good fortune to stay employed and work from home for the last 10 months cares enough about her neighbors to at least try to reduce the potential for harm. I recognize that is absolutely virtue signalling – but I feel obligated to try.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Although I think all evidence points to the risk outdoors (jogging or not) to be very low to negligible, I must admit to being very annoyed regularly when heavily breathing joggers come to close to me when I’m out for a walk. I was tempted during lockdown 1 to write to my local Park management asking that joggers be told to stick to open grass areas, and not run in the more congested paved walks.

      It doesn’t seem to me that insisting on masks outdoors is the right way to go, but certainly separating people who are exhaling heavily for whatever reason makes sense.

      1. Winston Smith

        It is simply down to etiquette and some savoir vivre aka respect for others. I run around a reservoir near my home and while I personally believe the risk of transmission outdoor to be minimal in those circumstances, that does not mean it is shared by others. Hence, I keep the mask on when I am within 15-20ft from others and strive to pass at least 6-10ft away from people that are slower than me. I relish going out in bad weather since the reservoir is then deserted.

        1. Wukchumni

          Until smoke from the Castle Fire became overbearing, I walked around 175 miles in Mineral King this summer on trail & off-trail, and i’d guess I saw a dozen masks worn in total. You can usually see another hiker coming the other way from hundred/s of feet away, so i’d always look for a likely rocky patch to veer off into and give myself 10 feet, and then got back on the trail.

          Things didn’t really seem all that different to me than any other of the many decades of walking 200-400 miles a summer. I’m more fearful now, and i’d probably have an N-95 @ the ready to put on when somebody was coming the other way.

          As far as outdoor venues with people in proximity, I probably spent many hundreds of hours online on the deck @ the Silver City resort, which has a monopoly on wi-fi in the area, a great attractant to human beans.

          Tables were socially distanced and maybe half of the people wore masks-all of the resort staff were masked up.

      2. Terry Flynn

        Gotta admit I feel the same. I’ve wanted to petition the council that joggers stick rigorously to their (often openly marked) paths.. … But I know they have their attention elsewhere

    2. Ignacio

      I run without mask (I carry a mask with me in the arm but I cannot run slopes upwards with a mask). The risk of contagion from me or to others is close to 0, so close to 0 to be negligible. I run alone, cross very few people with distances that can be as low as 1 meter for a millisecond in open air, so about 5 milliseconds per run. I doubt there is ANY experiment that demonstrates this has a significant contagion risk in any of the directions. Bullshit, IMO.

      Let’s talk about the ‘success’ of outdoor masks in Spain (not forced when you are exercising yourself). You dutifully carry your mask walking the street, go an enter a Cafetería and remove your mask to enjoy your coffee, beer or whatever with a multitude of friends and others doing the same (so you also need to talk loudly to be heard). Last weekend, 84.000 new Covid PCR positives. Because of runners or cyclists? Bullshit.

      1. Arizona Slim

        Slim checking in from Tucson.

        When I’m out for a bike ride, I have a mask around my neck. For most of the ride, that’s where it stays. I ride by myself and seldom get close to any other bicyclists.

        However, if I stop and have a conversation, I don the mask. Ditto for going into stores and other indoor establishments.

        When I’m out for a walk, different story. Mask goes on before I leave my yard. It stays on until I get back home.

        1. Ignacio

          Basically the same though I put it on before I leave the apartment. I am responsible for keeping the stock of masks in the entrance.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, I always wear a buff scarf when riding (in winter anyway). Its a simple matter to pull it up if I’m close to people, and here in Ireland it does keep your face warm, which is always a benefit.

    3. lordkoos

      Joggers do need to be mindful when passing pedestrians. As a cyclist I suppose I can see the sense in wearing a mask if you are in the inner city or crowded park but it would become very uncomfortable if you were riding hard or for a long period… I’m very fortunate in that I can get on my bike and in a few minutes be on country roads with very little traffic. Small-town life has its benefits.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    Exclusive: Trump slams China’s Huawei, halting shipments from Intel, others – sources Reuters

    I’ve no idea what to make of this, but the past week I’ve seen on Chinese social media a very popular meme mocking Huawei’s owner, and specifically his younger daughter (the sister of the woman held by the Canadians). She seems to have tried to use daddy’s money and influence to launch a career as a Kardashian style celeb, but has fallen flat on her face. I’ve seen it shared on heavily censored platforms (i.e anything originating within China), which usually means the mocking is openly permitted, if not encouraged. This usually only happens when someone has fallen outside of government favour, and its often the first stage before something a little more permanent happens.

    I wonder if the Chinese government is getting annoyed at how Huawei has allowed itself to become too much of a ‘tall poppy’, and something of a lightning rod for anti-Chinese feeling. If so, I think perhaps we could see it being taken more closely under direct control, and perhaps broken up under a range of different brand names.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The Problem with Technosolutionism”

    ‘Its first principle is the notion that an app, a machine, a software program, or an algorithm offers the best solution to any complicated problem.’

    Maybe the problem is with the name itself – Technosolutionism. Gunna put it out here that a means is being confused with an ends here. We all use technology but when you step back and look at it, technology is really a form of leverage. One person by themselves can only do so much but using technology, you can lever how much work you put into an effort and multiply it. So it is not so much a solution but a means to getting to a solution. And of course it is just like fire in that it is ‘a good servant but a bad master.’

  12. PlutoniumKun


    Norths and Greys articles are long, but well worth the read. But both are pretty grim.

    One point that North makes, that needs to me repeated many times, especially to the useless UK media, is that UK companies are not facing new ‘red tape’. They are facing long existing rules that have always been applied by the EU to third countries. The UK, of course, chose to be a third country. Yet somehow, they are surprised that the rules are being applied (its actually the Brexiteers WTO rules that specify that the EU must treat all third countries equally, so they can’t legally give extra leeway to the UK even if they wanted).

    The most bizarre thing about the fish situation is that it was the UK government that deliberately chose fish as the key battleground (to the amazement of the EU, which assumed the UK would be more concerned about, oh, little sectors, like finance, services or car manufacture). Even the horse breeding industry is much larger. And yet the Tories not just sold the fishing industry down the river (mostly incompetence I think, not their usual malign intent), and then didn’t have any sort of financial back up plan in place to protect them. This is political malpractice as well as everything else. Unless of course they just thought that all fishing boats are from Scotland and so didn’t want to give them anything.

    I’ve heard from several sources that there is increasing disbelief among Irish and other European businesses about the sheer cluelessness of UK businesses, large and small. Somehow, they bought into Johnsons BS while everyone else was doing the hard work in making preparations. They are somehow making a very bad situation even worse.

    1. njbr

      Perhaps with the plan being “Brext above all”, there was no desire to clearly lay out the steps one must go through as a UK business trying to make it in a world market.

      It’s not as if the bones of the agreement were so malleable that they would shift completely at Christmas 2020

    2. Ignacio

      Yes. I can attest that North is quite knowledgeable when he is talking, among other things, about (without mentioning the name) Regulation (EC) 1224/2009 that sets the common framework/regime for fisheries control in the EU that, among other things, sets the regulation for the import of fishery products into the EU and was ‘apparently’ ignored by UK’s administration. The regulation is not surprising at all. It is merely compatible with the rest of the regulations regarding the single market and custom union plus the CFP though it has now to be adapted to the new CFP as set in 2013. Of course UK’s Administration knows it very well since the UK has been applying it for more than a decade but somebody just forgot to tell the consequences to their fellow fishermen citizens in Scotland once UK becomes another third country in its relations with the EU. Worse they still play denialism and blame ‘bureaucracy’.

    3. flora

      Thanks for comments about the ongoing Brexit tangle. I remember when the UK Civil Service competency was considered the high bar for excellence. This was before the “market efficiency experts” gained control of politics on both sides of the Atlantic and replaced institutional expertise with a sort of “then a miracle occurs” group think.

      Mirowski’s comments about neoliberalism:

      They [neoliberals] tend to think of it more as an epistemic problem — that the market is the greatest information processor known to mankind. This starts with Hayek but then feeds through the other main thinkers.

      This is important, because it means that people have to be brought to understand politically that they have to, in a sense, concede that the market knows more than they do.

      Politicians, believing “markets” will sort things out, give themselves permission for lazy thought and (in)action at the political level – aside from financially propping up markets, imo. Certainly this is true in the US. No need to think, just defer to what the “market” wants. Turns out that economies and markets and countries are not “self driving machines”. My 2 cents.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I’m sure others here like David, who have more insider knowledge than I have, would confirm that in many public sector bodies in the UK, the notion that private industry always does a better job has been well and truly internalised, to the point that they are no longer capable of action. The only exception seems to be the NHS, which despite all vandalism, has shown itself capable of rising to the occasion on the few occasions the government let it (as with vaccination).

        I wonder though if the British private sector has also been damaged through neoliberalism. Many companies I know have stripped themselves bare of all but core functions, essentially contracting out anything else, with just a bunch of MBA’s making all the decisions. I wonder if this lack of internal expertise has made themselves vulnerable to the unknowns of Brexit, as there are simply no experts (or at least very few) to hire to do it. If you have a situation where lawyers who don’t understand the industry they are dealing with are advising businesses who don’t know the right questions you ask, no amount of high paid consultants is going to help.

        1. David

          I think that’s true. I would go so far as to say that there is probably no structure today, public or private, which works as well as it did a generation ago. At least if there is one I would like to know what it is.

          On the substantive point, I think that the pardonable error that many people made was to imagine that the British government was actually negotiating about substantive issues. In reality what they wanted was a purely political solution which would get Brexit « done » whilst making patriotic noises about issues like fishing that ordinary people could understand. I really think that this is the lowest I have ever seen a British government fall.

          1. Ignacio

            Yep, on the fishing thing it can be argued that when the UK joined the CEE the fishing agreement gave more fishing opportunities to other EU vessels in UK waters than the ones UK vessels obtained in EU waters other than theirs. [To be sure fishing wars between The Netherlands and Britain stretches centuries but, come on, this should have been overcome long ago] This is because the EU distributes fishing opportunities according to previous fishing activity records as well as fishing capabilities. The UK has, of course all the right to change her mind on this though I don’t think that the UK entry was big deal in this sense when they entered: they didn’t mind then and the revisionism made now is probably not valid. If somebody knows whether this was problematic to assume for UK’s fleet those days I would like to know. Now, if you want to gain more fishing opportunities while at the same time leaving the single market you have to be sure that you have a market for these newly gained opportunities but this part of the equation was apparently not examined, suggesting that all this is nothing but stupid nationalism at play.

            1. skippy

              I still stick with the political ploy gone wrong and then brand ideology necessitated seeing it through or the rubes might awaken from their sleep.

              Thinking is discouraged in this sphere it seems, holiday activities proceed reading trade contracts don’t you know …. or that responsibility was outsourced = hiving off risk = blow back thingy …

          2. PlutoniumKun

            I think that most people assumed that Johnson would be like a duck quacking, with lots of sherpas frantically paddling beneath the water surface, trying to get the details right. For whatever reason, the paddling just didn’t happen, and the quacking duck was drifting on the current, oblivious to the waterfall ahead.

            That for me is the key question – plenty of governments have done fine before with image obsessed idiots at the head, thats the whole point of a multilayered bureaucracy working away underneath the surface. For some reason, this just didn’t happen with Brexit.

        2. Sonoma John

          Similar observation. After 25 years as a health plan executive in the US I had a short largely unsuccessful stint as a consultant. My problem was that on most assignments my conclusion was that the person hiring should be fired and replaced by someone competent who knew the business.

          Returned to the health plan side just as the government insured that no competence was needed since risk profits and market were covered by the government. Executive salaries and stock prices soared.

        3. skippy

          Per the Mirowski quote above … the thought that the rating agencies went from issuing independent risk evaluations on product from a rigorous process with considerations about long term income, determinate on its quality, too one of seller pays to have a “seal of approval [past reputation]” based on short term income flows and all due to the advancement in the photo copier and the zeal of some young sorts to move up the value chain by hook or crook is galactic level dark comedy ….

          Too think at the same time many a young entrepreneur would use dads expensive business copier to print ID’s for getting into clubs and get alcohol for mates of mates is a metaphor for something.

          Anywho back to the point … government services and institutional knowledge/ability was sold off to increase the market share of said information processing with a side of increased profits for some special people. That the human component in such a paradigm of incentives never seemed to consider the long term ramifications of the quality of – in house – information vs user pays out of house [expert] short term thinking seems to parallel the above scenario.

          Wellie back to stripping an old 100-ish year old renovated Queensland cottage back to bare timber today, blessed be Festool and Paint Stripper pro. The uooohs and aaaahs I get from clients, especially when I break out the DeVilbiss pressure pot to spray lattice and balustrade or such items rather than airless [over spray] or cut and roll. Geeezzz I don’t miss that other stuff ….

  13. Lex

    ‘I had no qualms’

    ‘Outing family members – either online or to authorities – has marked a new frontier of the rift Trumpism has created in the US.’

    This has been decades in the making, well before Trump. It’s what the economy wrought; Trump legitimized the anger, gave it a political facade that suggested objectivity, but it’s deeply subjective and personal. Family members will happily turn on each other to “get even”, whatever the hell that means to them.

    I can’t remember the last time I heard someone say of a member of their family, that they had achieved some economic goal and they were so happy for them… unless it was a parent bragging.

    1. Wukchumni

      MY B-I-L who is to the right of right of right in Az. probably wishes he could’ve been there (i’m now calling the January 6th gig ‘The Shot Heard Round The World #2’, as only 1 shot was fired) as for well heeled Trumpers being in the moment probably wins you some brownie points on a far right blog where everybody agrees with one another, and if he became part of the crowd being a future crime scene @ the Capitol, however much I despise his political views, ratting him out would only be the cause of rancor in the family.

  14. Pat

    The Democrats are building their “we cannot do anything because of the big bad Republicans” excuse. Now truth be told they would have been limited because of their unwillingness to eliminate the filibuster. However anyone who thinks McConnell would have been allowing anything like the following if Vice President Pence were the tie breaker…well I have a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

    “The top two Senate leaders are nearing a power-sharing agreement to hash out how the divided chamber will operate, with Democrats in charge of setting the schedule but both parties likely to hold an equal number of seats on Senate committees, sources say.:

    Equal seats my Aunt Fanny, Schumer isn’t even trying to be subtle about giving away the store anymore.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Attack on Capitol was the beginning of an American insurgency, counterterrorism experts warn”

    No, it’s not. If it was an insurgency you would be having wedding parties being bombed in Montana. You would have unmarked vans grabbing people off the st…. nevermind. Bad example. But the over-reaction to this riot tells me one thing. It is profitable. If it was only a riot, you would overhaul the tactics and procedures of law enforcement in DC and be done. But if you call it an insurgency, then you are potentially talking about contracts worth hundreds of billions in total in dealing with this ‘insurgency.’ Some Democrats are demanding a wall be built around the Capital grounds. Well, maybe a permanent secure barricade. There is a good size contract there.

    I notice that this article says that a number of the white supremacist groups have reached out and formed linkages with white nationalist counterparts in Germany, Canada, Norway and Russia. Of course they are deliberately avoiding any mention of the Ukraine where white supremacists are going for actual training and combat experience. What happens when they filter back to the US and put their new found expertise to use. Are these the sort of people that the national security state would target? Or would they settle for a gun-nut Trumper in Omaha because that is easier pickings?

    In short, an over-response is liable to create the problem that they want to deal with in the first place. The Taliban in Afghanistan were a spent force when the US initially invaded. It was only the constant arrests, raids and fights that caused them to come back again and now they own over half the country. But a lot of people made a lot of money out of twenty years of fighting them. The worse solution of course is the 9/11 solution – making a police problem into a military problem.

    1. cocomaan

      Why bother having a boondoggle of a war overseas when you can have it at home?

      I used to read Juan Cole every day back in the 2000’s because he was one of the only people knowledgeable about Iraq/Iran. But since then he’s become absolutely rabid about Trump and the dangers of Trump and how we’re all in imminent danger of Trump.

      Then I read his latest: I feel like he and I are living in different universes. In mine, I go to work, see family, and interact with Trump voters and supporters on a regular basis, all of whom, and I do mean that I haven’t met any, are far from radicals.

      In Dr. Cole’s world, the US is now struggling with an al-Qaeda/Taliban insurgency at home that is made up of violent revolutionaries that are planning massive actions to destroy the republic.

      It can be a frighteningly effective tactic. Accelerationism, what I call “sharpening the contradictions,” was the tool that al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia and then ISIL used to take over 40 percent of Iraq. They have also had some success in pushing France to the far right and in damaging French traditions of civil liberties and tolerance.

      Not all anti-government groups are organized on a paramilitary basis. They estimated that there are 181 militias. It was members of the militias who were dressed in military garb as they invaded the Capitol, and who appear to have contemplated violence against our elected representatives.

      The SPLC has gathered information on 25,000 militiamen. The capabilities of the militiamen have been vastly enhanced by the veterans of Bush’s Iraq and Afghanistan Wars, who have joined them in significant numbers and have brought with them tactical and firearms and explosives expertise.

      So in his world, there’s 25,000 people preparing RIGHT NOW to destroy the United States. That’s a remarkable claim.

      His two main sources for these arguments are the FBI and the SPLC. A decade ago, Dr. Cole was criticizing the FBI for profiling Muslim Americans, but now they’re entirely trustworthy.

      This is disturbing stuff.

    2. flora

      “Attack on Capitol was the beginning of an American insurgency, counterterrorism experts warn”…touting for work for himself. /heh

      I agree that the article was, um, overwrought. Many claims, no evidence, and no doubt written with the possibility for personal work-related gain in mind. ;)

    3. voteforno6

      It depends on how you look at it, I think. The riot was clearly disorganized, and most of its participants did not go there with the intention of rampaging through the capitol. However, its symbolic impact may prove to be far greater than some may acknowledge, I think, and not just for the right-wingers.

      1. Tom Bradford

        The storming of the Bastille offers possible parallels –

        “The medieval armory, fortress, and political prison known as the Bastille represented royal authority in the centre of Paris. The prison contained only seven inmates at the time of its storming, but was seen by the revolutionaries as a symbol of the monarchy’s abuse of power; its fall was the flashpoint of the French Revolution.

        The crowd gathered outside the fortress around mid-morning, calling for the pulling back of the seemingly threatening cannon from the embrasures of the towers and walls and the release of the arms and gunpowder stored inside. Two representatives from the Hotel de Ville (municipal authorities from the Town Hall) were invited into the fortress and negotiations began, while another was admitted around noon with definite demands. The negotiations dragged on while the crowd grew and became impatient. Around 1:30 pm, the crowd surged into the undefended outer courtyard. A small party climbed onto the roof of a building next to the gate to the inner courtyard of the fortress and broke the chains on the drawbridge, crushing one vainqueur as it fell. Soldiers of the garrison called to the people to withdraw, but amid the noise and confusion these shouts were misinterpreted as encouragement to enter. Gunfire began, apparently spontaneously, turning the crowd into a mob. The crowd seems to have felt that they had been intentionally drawn into a trap and the fighting became more violent and intense, while attempts by deputies to organise a cease-fire were ignored by the attackers.”

        -from Wikipedia

        Turning the crowd into a mob…..

    4. WJ

      It strikes me that the point of these stories is not to get the facts right, but to establish a narrative that, by dint of repetition, becomes accepted as common sense by the targeted audience. In the past few days, there have been *lots* of comments by and interviews of current and former FBI and CIA, etc. officials on network and cable news that tend toward this same direction.

      This tells me that the legislation is coming, whatever we think of it. The task between now and February or March is to sufficiently saturate corporate media outlets with the official narrative so that bipartisan establishment support for the legislation becomes accepted and even expected. Some liberal-left Democrats like AOC will be allowed to voice mealy-mouthed objections to the legislation, but none will actually expend political capital contesting it. It will pass by large (nearly unanimous) majorities in the House and Senate and will involve further restrictions on the open internet, independent platforms, etc. and will further merge the interests of establishment Washington with the tech monopolies.

      The one wrinkle in the above is whether enough Republicans can be convinced to turn on Trump and his voters, because the true Trumpists will reject the coming legislation (for mostly the wrong reasons). I think the Republicans are still working out how to transition from Trump and it is still unclear (to me at least) what form this transition will take.

    5. Laputan

      The worse solution of course is the 9/11 solution – making a police problem into a military problem.

      That seems to be the end game here and nobody in the establishment media is offering any objection. It would sure be nice if at least one of them remembered how embellished and weaponized the word “terrorist” became back in the Bush years.

      It’s rare to come across the level of banality, circular logic, and reductive analysis presented in the article. A few points it seriously attempts to make:
      – Somehow Osama Bin Laden was able to lure desperate young men into Al Qaeda. Ergo, Trump has a similar influence on the rioters.
      – White nationalists must be forming international terror networks because there’s an NSC strategy document that says so.
      – Like the relationship between ISIS and former Baathists, white nationalist sentiment is running rampant among ex-military. See the one Lt. Col. that was arrested.

      Not to seem too careless but what was there in DC that hasn’t been already been around for decades? Did anybody honestly believe that there weren’t enough Q believers, white militia members, and other social detritus out there that could instigate a riot with such a minimal police presence? They’ve been around long before Trump but now – due in no small part to the media magnification of everything Trump IMO – they get to be the shiny new threat to rationalize further curtailing civil liberties.

    6. Wyoming

      NOTE: this is the 2nd time I tried to post this response. It never appeared with the ‘Waiting for moderation message” so I think it disappeared and am trying again. If it duplicates I appologise.

      “No, it’s not.” ?????

      Having a fair amount of direct experience in helping format revolutions (to overthrow an existing govt that the US wanted removed – frequently democratic in nature), helping suppress anti-government movements (normally seeking what we consider ‘freedoms’ – thus keeping an authoritarian/dictatorial regime in place), and spending about half of my US govt career (in one of ‘those’ orgs) working operations targeting various terrorist groups…I can say

      You are dead wrong. The article is very accurate. If one has experience in these things it is pretty obvious it is real and about what stage it is in – we who live here in the US can be thankful it has not progressed to much more violent acts, but it is likely they are on the horizon. I do understand the strong desire for it not to be true and the natural reaction to deny its existence – it is frightening. To someone who has been there and done that it is clear America is in the early stages of a civil war. Whether this development continues is tbd of course and we need to reverse it if possible – personally I am not optimistic. There are a host of actors in the nascent right wing terrorist groups in the US who are determined to further its progress. They are backed up (or led to some extent) by visible media personages, politicians, some from the 1% who are helping formant in many minds the beliefs which will help gain supporters, structure a mythology around their movement, and so on.

      What is happening is not an overreaction in any way. It is actually an underreaction – govts almost always react slowly to internal dissolution and that gives a big advantage to those trying to overthrow them. When you have not been burrowed into these kinds of activities you don’t see the steps being taken as being serious and incremental progress towards that break. Not being a citizen of the culture means one does not pick up the subtle clues as to what some things actually mean as opposed to what they might be interpreted from an outside perspective. As someone who has direct experience in these things and who also has lived for decades in right wing American culture I can guarantee this is very serious. There were people in the Capitol building who would have killed Pense, Pelosi and others should they have caught them. That kind of action is one of the next most likely steps in this kind of process. It may happen on Wed, or not. But political assassination is clearly on the table – I have heard some of my militia neighbors talk about killing ‘liberals’ many times down at the local gun range. It is common talk among those types and as one should be able to see from recent events they are serious about the ‘need’ to do this. And that makes it likely there will be some level of such actions soon as there are people in these groups who are very committed to changing how America is run.

      What makes it more likely is when it is not directly addressed. The perpetrators/supporters always say something about getting on to the ‘healing’ process, or not to overreact as they are just blowing off steam and such. We are way past that here in the US. The citizenry is very broken and divided. That families are broken to the point that they are taking actions against each other is a perfect example of that. It is much easier to take action against strangers than family. Family frequently will protect members who are way out of line and even into serious criminal activity. But that only goes so far. In the American Civil War it was not uncommon for family members to fight on opposite sides as we are seeing signs of here now.

      The linkages to outside (non-US based) organizations that the article details is actually very important and should not be discounted. Thinking that the very limited number of Americans who went to the Ukraine and have come back add any meaningful amount of military expertise to the these radicals is just mistaken. They are a drop in a giant bucket. American is chock full of men (and a some women) who are combat veterans (far more than any other country on earth). Counting up just those who have been in the military and wars since 9/11 is in the millions and when you go back further there are millions still hanging around from Vietnam (and if you watched the videos of the Capitol attack some of them were there), not to mention the huge numbers from in between those 2 large scale events. And these people are NOT separate at all from the ‘gun-nut Trumper in Omaha’ as they are all part of the same mozaic. America is armed, trained, has experience, and is motivated and it is ripe for real disruption.

      It is not relevant to this discussion but I cannot help it since you brought it up. Having been involved in the immediate response to 9/11 and having friends who hit the ground in Afghanistan within days and having knowledge of the state of Afghanistan at the time the Taliban was in no way a spent marginal force (they were totally in charge of the country for all intents and purposes). Now it certainly did not take long before that situation changed. But the only relevant thing about Afghanistan to this discussion is the lesson we need to keep in mind about how terrorist groups can use contacts in other countries to garner support for their activities elsewhere – a key point of the article.

      To sum up (this explanation/discussion could go on for hundreds of pages obviously) what is happening in the US is typical of events which have occurred in other countries which fell into open violent civil war. We are on the cusp of it right now and there are a large number of actors who are trying to make it happen. The current state of the situation is in their favor, but not by a huge margin (I think). The country has to track down everyone it can who is actively trying to overthrow the government (it is breaking the law after all) and to put lots of pressure on those supporting it to stop (with in generally legal guidelines – but be careful not to fail at this). Our security services must get a handle on the leaders and members of the organizations who will be the troops which go violent and be prepared to stop them. This is their duty and one of the prime reasons for their existence – and yes I know that this activity will be problematic and there is no way to avoid that. The other side is bent on revolution and what they are doing is treason and will lead to great suffering. Thus my pessimism about getting out of this intact. One cannot fight an active insurgency except by fighting and this always hardens both sides further. Once the real fighting starts (and it hasn’t yet) there is no viable solution other than defeating the opposition – you have to choose sides at that point. So let’s treat this with the seriousness it deserves and try hard to contain it short of open warfare. That is the only option we actually have.

      1. Wyoming

        2 day old poll from CBS
        54% of Americans think the greatest threat to their way of life is…Other Americans
        51% think that political violence will increase in the short term
        71% think that democracy in America is threatened.

        If this is not a recipe for political violence I don’t know what is.  ‘They’ are the enemy, ‘they’ are going to use violence and ‘they’ are going to take over your country.

        We got to this point not as a bug but as a feature.  Note that Newt Gingrich was one of the first to use language about the left as if they were enemies (not opponents), un-American, non-religious and so on.  In the decades since this kind of language has predominated in many media circles.  It dominates especially on the right, but its equivalents are common on the left as well.  Hatred has been programmed into the populace.  This programming is pervasive on the right.  It is winner take all type of language and it normally leads to violence.

        An personal example:  My son was once a senior employee of Greenpeace.  His grandmother will not speak to him because he is a ‘terrorist’.  Seriously.  She also believes basically all of the QAnon stuff.  Most of my wife’s Facebook friends from high school in Wyoming believe it as well.  You cannot believe stuff like this and ever get to a bi-partisan power sharing arrangement with your opposite political rivals as they are evil, godless, a threat to your way of life and intend to take over ‘your’ government.  You fight these kinds of people.

        As the republican party detonates before our eyes the core of the right which has deeply bought into the above is not going away.  So what are they going to do? 

        A tweet from Mike Pompeo today:
        “”Woke-ism, multiculturalism, all the -isms – they’re not who America is. They distort our glorious founding and what this country is all about. Our enemies stoke these divisions because they know they make us weaker,” Pompeo said in a tweet.”  

        And in 2015 he said: 
        “‘America had worshipped other Gods and called it multiculturalism. We’d endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.'”

        So how do you get from that to jointly running a country?  You don’t unless folks like him change their minds as the only other option is to give up your identities. Democracy is a very fragile thing and unnatural in the light of history. We are in serious trouble……

        1. flora

          Well, the MSM left neutral reporting behind years ago. There’s more money in stoking emotions. Media consolidation means little real competition in news sourcing and more uniformity in narrative.

          Glenn Greenwald’s latest column:

          The New Domestic War on Terror is Coming
          No speculation is needed. Those who wield power are demanding it. The only question is how much opposition they will encounter.

          If you identify as a conservative and continue to believe that your prime enemies are ordinary leftists, or you identify as a leftist and believe your prime enemies are Republican citizens, you will fall perfectly into the trap set for you. Namely, you will ignore your real enemies, the ones who actually wield power at your expense: ruling class elites, who really do not care about “right v. left” and most definitely do not care about “Republican v. Democrat” — as evidenced by the fact that they fund both parties — but instead care only about one thing: stability, or preservation of the prevailing neoliberal order.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Agreed here. There is a distinct call for revenge on the part of so-called liberals that want to punish Trump voters for ‘being in the wrong’. it is starting to resemble the French call for revenge at the end of WW1 and we all know how that worked out. In the main stream media they are actually calling for the deprogramming of MAGA voters which I am sure will work-


            But of course as you stated, the real enemies will be bypassed and ignored – the ruling elite who never have to suffer any losses.

      2. flora

        I remember the same arguments after the Oklahoma City “event”, which ushered in Clinton’s domestic anti-ter*ism law that preceded (and predicted) Patriot Act v 1. (Gore Vidal compared Clinton’s anti-ter*ism law – written ahead of time based on the speed with which is appeared, sprung fully formed like Athena from the head of Zeus – to the use made earlier in another country of the historical R.Stag fire. Of course, Vidal could egaggerate for effect.)

        I’m now supposed to believe there’s a giant, hidden-in-plain-sight force just waiting to pounce (again). The Dems tried this ploy in Charlottesville in 2018, right before the midterm elections. It seemed to work to get Dems elected. Dems prefer to finger “dangerous US white supers” and the GOP prefer to finger “dangerous ferrigners” as their excuse to legislate against US civil rights and civil liberties, imo. / ;)

        1. flora

          The additional crimes, criminal penalties, and expansion of the death penalty in H.R. 4192 would further incorporate abusive terrorism authorities into a discriminatory criminal justice system.

          People of color and other marginalized communities have long been targeted under domestic terrorism authorities for unfair and discriminatory surveillance, investigations, and prosecutions. Law enforcement agencies’ use of these authorities undermines and has violated equal protection, due process, and First Amendment rights.

          (I’m waiting for the ACLU to lose its fb and twittee access for “violating community standards.” /heh)

        2. cocomaan

          Podcaster Dan Carlin recently cited Nixon’s biography with this stat: Nixon said in his biography that by conservative estimates there were 40,000 bombings in the country from January 1969 to April 1970. 64% of which had an unknown motive.

          I was thinking about OK City, Waco, Ruby Ridge, and all the white nationalist violence of the 90’s juxtaposed with what happened on January 6th. And there’s really no comparison. We’ve seen MUCH worse times.

          1. Wyoming

            This is in reply to both flora and cocomaan.

            You might be interested to know that one of my immediate relatives is on the board of the ACLU so I share your concern. And there ‘is’ a pretty large group of people we are talking about here and they are not in hiding at all. They are pretty much up in the County’s face as I described and we saw on the 6th. If you are not seeing them you are not looking.

            I have a previous post in mod here also which may or may not appear making some further points re my above post to which you replied.

            Charlottesville, OK City, Waco, etc are not independent unrelated events, but rather a continuation of the trends in the political spectrum over time. In other words those events are linked to and lead to what we are seeing today. But in today’s world we have reached the point where people with real impact and power are driving the motivations (programming?) of many of the people involved in these events. That is a huge increase in danger. The deterioration in political society which has grown over the decades is all part of a continuum. We did not start breaking down yesterday nor when Trump got elected. Societies always have troubles of some kind or another which cause stress. Sometimes we deal with them adequately and other times not. Now is a big not.

            In terms of what is happening today I would strongly disagree that we have seen much worse times in terms of danger to the republic. The situation I spoke about above has never been on the table before. The potential for loss of life and loss of democracy is far greater today. There are after all people elected to Congress at this time who are intimately involved in pushing this situation towards a breaking point. Senior members of our govt are clearly intent on using the situation to promote agendas (beyond getting elected to some position) which are fundamentally undemocratic (if my other post appears I would call attention to the part about Pompeo). There are media platforms and pundits who are actively seeking to break our governmental system. The members of the public who are organized along these lines are orders of magnitude greater than a couple of decades ago. It is flat out much worse now than any time since the Civil War. None of the other trouble we have had since have carried the threat to the existence to the Republic.

            1. flora

              Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib’s latest:

              “I’m leading the call for national security powers to not be expanded in light of the attack on our nation’s Capitol that occurred two weeks ago, as such measures often lead to the erosion of Americans’ civil liberties.”


              Greenwald picks up the ideas in her letter:

              “Pinning this letter to my wall:”


              My grandfather used to say that there are things that can scare you so bad you hurt yourself more than what you were scared of could. I think his formulation was, “There are things that won’t really hurt you, but they’ll scare you so bad you hurt yourself.”

      3. Laputan

        To sum up (this explanation/discussion could go on for hundreds of pages obviously) what is happening in the US is typical of events which have occurred in other countries which fell into open violent civil war. We are on the cusp of it right now and there are a large number of actors who are trying to make it happen. The current state of the situation is in their favor, but not by a huge margin (I think)

        Bollocks. The only ways we’re worse off now than in the Clinton years is that we have even less of a social safety net to provide for those who might be so desperate to join those movements, and we have what are essentially radicalization machines in Twitter, FB, & Youtube. If you don’t do something about those two, which you’re not addressing at all, you’re only addressing the symptoms and not the causes…I guess that’s par for the course for the MiC, however.

      4. The Rev Kev

        January 19, 2021 at 1:03 pm

        I have been thinking about what you have written but I must politely disagree here. Yes, there are some pretty violent characters running around America but the same is true of any country in the world. These are the ones that police should concentrate on and lock away. What I am seeing though is a movement that will absolutely not stop with those characters but will go after a huge segment of the population that at a minimum numbers in the scores of millions. That is a classic formula for starting a pretty bad brew and god knows what the situation would be like by 2024.

        A new viral video is calling on liberals to form “an army of citizen detectives” to gather information on Trump supporters and report their activities to the authorities. They want their “treason” exposed and then their employers notified. Get it? They want opponents of democrats to lose their jobs and hopefully end up homeless on the streets with their livelihoods destroyed. You say that you know conservatives? How will that go down this personal attack? This over-reaction is a trait in the elites and is actively being encouraged by them because it can be turned to profit and political advantage.

        Remember Osama bin Laden? You know what his strategy was? He would send two guys to the far corners of the world and raise a ragged flag. Then guaranteed that America would send a huge military force to counter them and blow up the situation in that region. But a lot of people did very well out of contracts for that force thank you very much. How do I know that this was his strategy? Because he told reporters this and America still went for it like a bull at a red flag. And now this hyper-reaction is being encouraged at home so people should be careful about wishing for such a development. One of the principles of war is to use a minimum of force and I would suggest that such should be the case here.

    7. lordkoos

      “…white supremacists are going for actual training and combat experience…”

      I can assure you that it’s no different in the USA — militias train here and many have ex-military expertise amongst them. While I’m sure that skills and fitness vary wildly among American militia groups I have no doubt that some are potentially very dangerous.

      1. Wukchumni

        I know a fellow who’s ex-military with militia overtones who’s very good at what he does, and had he been in DC on January 6th, he would’ve been so embarrassed by the yahoo factor (look at me a good many of them practically scream, i’ve got what looks like a suicide vest on, and i’m 56 portly and bald) and not wanted to be included by association.

    8. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      January 19, 2021 at 9:55 am

      Not to make light of white supremacy (hmm – I hope that is not a pun), but it reminds me of the effort to worry about some guy living in the woods in a ramshackle trailer with a confederate flag flying. Black people (as well as all people) have much more to fear from Facebook and our cooperate overlords than these outcasts for the most part. The media CAN NEVER point out that the number of brown people killed recently by white supremacists is a fraction of the brown people killed by lack of health insurance care. (never mind the number of all people killed because of no or poor health care). So trivial and made up ersatz dangers must of course divert attention from the real and pervasive danger of RICH PEOPLE, because rich people own the media, and they sure as heck aren’t gonna confess their culpability. Oligarchy now and forever

  16. Wukchumni

    Why the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Oil Lease Sale Flopped Backpacker
    Interesting how the tyranny of distance, infrastructure, market overabundance and timing (the auction was on Jan 6th) made a mockery of one of Trump’s pet projects that more or less amounted to nothing, in the end. The auction brought in less than 1% of expected bids, yikes.

    You wonder how many of his other art of the deals have a 99% failure rate, after he declares rankruptcy?

    1. upstater

      It didn’t fail. Not by a long shot.

      Arctic Refuge lands had been off limits for decades. Now hundreds of thousands of acres have property rights conveyed to the state or drillers. Majors sat out for PR reasons and reduced capital spending. Time will tell if Arctic Refuge is exploited; if it is then drillers got them for bargain basement prices.

  17. Kurt Sperry

    Resilc: “Look inside the hood of your current car vs a 55 Chevy……..We are a techo throw-a-way culture. not sustainable. You will never see a 2020 Chevy in 15 years on the road. I see 55 Chevys all the time.”

    For all the non user serviceability of modern cars vs. pre-smog regulation cars, they last a lot longer and are a lot more reliable today than those old, simple cars from the fifties. I drive a fifteen year-old Jetta with almost 200k miles on it and it’s still probably more reliable than a ’55 Chevy was new rolling off the dealer lot.

  18. Wukchumni

    Nepali climbers make history with winter summit of K2 mountain BBC (David L)
    Mt Everest is a play thing compared to K2, and to climb it in the winter, what an accomplishment.

    I notice that only extreme endeavors in the outdoors really ever get ink (recent headline in LAT: ‘Stanford Students Embark On Nearly 8,000-Mile Hike’) and that’s a shame because going for a 8 mile hike is pretty nifty if you ask me. Unless you run into Bigfoot and/or Antifa, nobody cares.

    Of the many hundreds of places i’ve camped in the backcountry of Sequoia NP, my favorite of all is but a 4 mile walk into the wilderness.

  19. Mildred

    -Second life of stuff-
    “In partnership with Dell, most of the computer equipment brought to Goodwill was scrapped—promoted as an environmental amenity, but really, in this manager’s view, a means by which a computer manufacturer could shrink the secondary market for competing equipment.”

    And what a great market it is! I wanted to buy my two granddaughters entering middle school the same model of new Apple computer, no favoritism. Cheapest was $2,500 at a big blue box store. Impossible for us to afford.
    Stopped in at a repair shop we walk the dog by every day. $420 bucks, out the door for two reconditioned machines, guaranteed service and personal warranty from the owner, who has been there for 18 years. To hell with new. Check out used, it’ll save you a ton of money.

  20. Arizona Slim

    About those sea lions on a surfing safari: I didn’t mute the sound.

    Why not? Because “Wipe Out” has one of the best drumming riffs in the history of drumming! Three cheers for the Surfaris!

  21. Mikel

    Re: Techno Solutionism / Cars

    It’s not only planned obsolescence on steroids, but imagine having your car paid for, but software and software updates that still have a monthly cost.
    Total Rip-Off Culture….INCOMING….

    1. TheMog

      Some car companies are starting to experiment with subscription features already. That’s actual features like heated seats, not satellite radio or the like.

  22. fresno dan

    By the same token, the events of January 6th should be viewed as the point U.S. political dysfunction reached its breaking point…. Far more significant are the surveys of representative samples of Americans that reveal deepening mistrust of the core institutions and a growing commitment to sectarian interests which have, in many parts of the nation, superseded commitment to the republic itself.
    This sheds a different light on the events. While the spark that ignited the violent pro-Trump upheaval was the incumbent’s allegations that the November Presidential election was fraudulent, for many the assault on the Capitol was also an insurgency against the entire political class. “All these politicians work for us. We pay their salaries, we pay our taxes. And what do we get? Nothing. All of them inside are traitors”—as a member of the mob stated.
    On this particular point, the grievances of the violent mob and the findings of scholars align: America is an oligarchy, not a functioning democracy, as the detailed study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page argued in 2014. Thus, much as this was an assault on American democracy, the storming of the Capitol was also a sign that American democracy had already failed. Surely, these clumsy “revolutionaries” did not storm the Capitol because they are living the American Dream—and they are blaming, unsurprisingly, the whole political class for their malaise.
    But no matter how equal society becomes in terms of wealth distribution, without a dramatic government investment in public services, notably education, healthcare provision, and job security, distrust and disillusionment in American institutions will persist, and with that also the rise of militancy by a radicalized underclass.
    People may not be able to articulate it, but they understand they are getting screwed by the current political system, and that both political parties are behind it. I think Trump and Obama were both empty vessels – used by the ruling oligarchy. The question to me is: can this system evolve to represent the many instead of the few?

      1. Charger01

        Thomas Frank brought up that specific author and book in his recent interview with Krystal Ball and Kyle Kulenski. I’ll ve purchasing it soon as well.

      2. fresno dan

        January 19, 2021 at 12:37 pm
        Yeah, I saw your comment the other day and commented on it extensively. Yes, it is an insightful book from the reviews and comments I have read about it.

    1. Cuibono

      We better hope it can. But how? Seems unimaginable to me these days… wouldn’t the starting point be good public education?
      Teaching people to think critically? Building strong communities? Providing enough social support so that people can take chances and think freely?

  23. fresno dan

    A little bit about this company, Twitter.
    Would Donald Trump have become president, save for Twitter?
    I don’t know – I suspect TV news had a lot more to do with it – remember the Les Moonves quote about Trump being good for profits. And is ONLY exposure what propelled Trump? I think there is a lot of discontent in the country, and the sunny, shiny city on a hill, rubs a lot of people who are enduring hard times the wrong way. Again, I come back to Trump saying at his inauguration, “This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.” Every death of despair affects several other people…

  24. Mikel

    Re: “Another New Covid-19 Variant Discovered In L.A. Might Be Vaccine Resistant, Researcher Says; Strain First Identified In Denmark”

    “Two days after the Los Angeles Public Health Department announced that the much-talked-about UK variant of Covid-19, known as B.1.1.7, had been identified in the region, the California Department of Public Health revealed that another lesser-known strain had been circulating in the county as well.

    Known as L452R, the newly announced arrival was first identified in Denmark in March. It showed up in California as early as May.

    Dr. Charles Chiu, a virologist and professor of laboratory medicine at UCSF who, in concert with state authorities, has been genetically sequencing test samples to identify new variants said early indications are the L452R might be less susceptible to the currently approved vaccines, but more investigation is needed.”

    Hard to keep up with the strains. But looking at these dates of identification, I’m trying to understand the the excitement about the vaccines when so many strains were already running around while vaccines were being developed.
    If I remember correctly, the talk about other strains back then was kept in the background, like afterthoughts.
    “More investigation is needed…”
    As so many keep saying about everything.

    1. kareninca

      That is very, very interesting. SFGate has also stopped allowing any comments.

      I wonder what other sites are dropping comment sections, just now.

      I wonder if my father’s old mimeograph machine is still in my mom’s basement.

  25. fresno dan

    So I see where Mitch McConnell has, on the senate floor, said that Trump was an provoker of the mob. He had some strong words against Trump before, but I think this is a crossing the Rubicon moment.
    And I am going to forgo my usual cynicism. At some point, if I believe every politician has no principles what so ever, than my reading, commenting, involvement in politics is worse than pointless, its delusional, the inability to accept the world and reality as it is, and not as I want it to be. As I am particularly annoyed with others unwilling to see things as they are, I must deal with the log in my own eye. Just like I think Trump made some good points, and many who support him have good arguments, I think McConnell is making a good point here. Maybe it should have been long ago, but better late than never…
    Many, many NC commenters have made the good point that it is foolish to paint every Capital protestor as all racist troglodytes – many have just grievances. We have to be better than all red bad, all blue good (or vice versa).

    1. Ronald Grissman

      “many have just grievances”, like what exactly? Lockdowns? I’ve read many of the briefs, so far it’s only trump told us too? Or Biden sort to speak is the devil. And the best way to obtain justice is attacking the Capital? I feel rational discourse on this will be very hard.

  26. Wukchumni

    I never wanted to hear the roar of the F-35’s as much as today, with $440 million worth of waste in a fearsome foursome up in the air over me, and not on their way to the middle east as i’d feared.

    1. fresno dan

      January 19, 2021 at 1:54 pm
      …. and not on their way to the middle east as i’d feared.
      Give it time…
      Blowing up one Iranian general does not sate the thirst for more military expenditures. How are you going to justify higher defense spending unless you can show you are keeping the peace…by setting off ever more drones….

  27. Synoia

    Apple’s iPhone 13 Could Ditch the Lightning Port, Feature Next-Gen Vapor Chamber Cooling and In-Screen Fingerprint Sensor Apple Insider. Fingerprint sensor? Kill me now.

    Assuming fingerprints ate a good for ID.

    Because I’ve dome much brick and tile without gloves, work. I don’t have distinguishable fingerprints. Many elderly are the same.

    Memo to self: Start Life of Crime after 65.

  28. Glen

    It looks like some in the MSM would not mind wiping out all independent platforms.

    Krystal and Saagar: CNN FREAKS That YouTubers Have Larger Audiences, Calls For Deplatforming

    What’s funny that understanding how this happen is never up for discussion. Maybe it’s because of massive consolidation of ownership, and then having those very few MSM outlets decide to do a “Hate Inc” maneuver.

  29. Henry

    Taurine is quite interesting and a short glance down that rabbit hole provided some really interesting, at least to me, details which may have implications for humans as well as pets, especially those that are exposed to glyphosate as that has been shown to interfere with glycine. Perhaps a clue into why some humans have lost the ability to thrive on a minimal or no meat diet.

    glycine amino acid is: H‐NH‐CH2‐COOH;
    glyphosate is: H2(PO3)-CH2‐NH‐CH2‐COOH

    “Many mammals are able to use either glycine or taurine for bile acid conjugation. Cats and dogs are only able to utilize taurine to conjugate bile acids. Dogs are able to synthesize sufficient taurine from cysteine. Cats are also able to synthesize taurine from cysteine, but the activity of two enzymes in the pathway is so low that taurine synthesis is negligible and therefore taurine must be provided in the diet.”

    “In the dog, taurine is currently classified as a conditionally essential amino acid (see Chapter 12, pp. 99-100 for a complete discussion). Dogs of some breeds that are diagnosed with DCM have been found to have low plasma taurine concentrations.37-40 Affected breeds include the American Cocker Spaniel, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Saint Bernard, Newfoundland, and English Setter. ”

    “a deficiency of taurine results in the development of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM).”

    ” Rice bran has been implicated as a cause of decreased plasma and whole-blood taurine levels in both cats and dogs, and it is theorized that either the fiber, fat, or protein found in rice bran forms nonabsorbable complexes with bile acids (see p. 100).”

    “Hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases can be reduced or prevented by diets high in taurine content. Furthermore, taurine’s interaction with high sugar intake and other pressor factors appears to provide clues to the mechanisms by which taurine alters cardiovascular and renal functions.”


  30. Tomonthebeach

    Biden to propose 8-year citizenship path for undocumented immigrants is a truly laughable promise. My Bulgarian spouse, documented up the wazzoo, has been waiting so far going on 5 years for citizenship even with a Suma Cum STEM degree from a US university. Based upon our experience, 8 years in politician speak is 16 years in CIS performance. That is 4 administrations into the future.

    Biden needs to fix his broken government before he starts making promises he cannot keep. Many agencies are understaffed, underfunded, and undermanaged.

    1. cnchal

      It is a realistic promise. My belief is that Amazon is churning through workers at such a furious pace that the labor pool will need constant replenishing.

  31. john d

    I know there is a lot of noise with the inauguration but is Gary Genslar at the SEC a good appointment

  32. VietnamVet

    The Pandemic has so disrupted life, skyrocketed existing inequality, and damaged support systems i.e. the US Postal Service’s lost and delayed mail; it is very clear that government has failed – flushed down the toilet. Grover Norquist and donor plutocrats got what they wished for.

    January 6th was a colossal failure of the intelligence community and law enforcement. Maybe they were simply incompetents who can’t add 1 + 1 together or the political leadership is so crazy that they did not want to be the messenger of bad news. But for whatever reason, after a months of protests in DC and elsewhere, they weren’t prepared adequately for the March on the Capitol. The response is crazy and disproportional to the threat. For the first time the managerial class felt fear due to their greed and corruption. The ground shook beneath their feet. But they can’t fix problems they won’t acknowledge. Like after the Twin Towers and the Anthrax Letters, there will be more surveillance, restrictions and military/intelligence spending that in the end will be worthless.

    Democrats will blame Russian led Deplorables for everything, not themselves. Rather than raising taxes on corporations and the wealthy, ending the wars, and funding healthcare and a national public health system to control the Pandemic/Depression, the scapegoating is guaranteed to ratchet up unrest in America. Texas already wants its 1,000 National Guard troops in DC back home.

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