Links 2/15/2021

Retired general on Pepsi board vows to win War on Thirst Duffelblog

US cold snap: Why is Texas seeing Arctic temperatures? BBC

Winter storm alerts, power outages cover the map as storms slam US AccuWeather

Historic Arctic outbreak brings dangerous cold, snow and ice to central and southern U.S. WaPo

Guinea declares Ebola epidemic after three deaths Al Jazeera

America’s oldest juvenile lifer, 83, who was jailed in 1953 aged 15 for his role in string of drunken, fatal armed robberies, is freed after 68 years Daily Mail

Pinhookers and Pets London Review of Books

An Enterprise of Solid Gold Lapham’s Quarterly

How to be a genius Aeon

How to Have a Meaningful Video Chat … With Your Dog Wired

Newly unearthed letter from Admiral Horatio Nelson to his mistress Lady Emma Hamilton in 1801 reveals how he urged her to give their baby daughter the recently developed smallpox vaccine Daily Mail

MTA wants triple the number of extra cops in subways after A-train rampage NY Post

Forget Self-Driving Cars—the Pentagon Wants Autonomous Ships, Choppers and Jets WSJ What could possibly go wrong?

Bill Gates: Rich nations should shift entirely to synthetic beef MIT Technology Review

Nepal Bans Two Indians From Mount Everest for Faking Summit Vice

The mystery of Australia’s flesh-eating disease BBC


For Better Health During the Pandemic, Is Two Hours Outdoors the New 10,000 Steps? NYT

Coronavirus: Hong Kong records 12 new infections as official reveals vaccination programme delayed until early March SCMP

Ron DeSantis blows off coronavirus mutations in Florida: ‘This strain is in blue states’ Raw Story

CDC director warns against lifting mask mandates: ‘We are nowhere out of the woods’ MarketWatch

New Zealand puts largest city into lockdown over three positive COVID-19 cases NY Post

Dems consider budget benefits of rescinding Cuomo pandemic powers amid nursing home uproar NY Daily News

European Banks Use Pandemic to Clean House WSJ

JAB PASS Brits may have to show a Covid vaccine passport to go to pub or restaurant The Sun

Germany Needs to Give Vaccine Production a Shot in the Arm Der Spiegel

Covid-19 vaccination rates follow the money in states with the biggest wealth gaps, analysis shows Stat

In Search of the Shot Kaiser Health News

Reflections on a Plague Year Project Syndicate. Jim O’Neill.

Hospitals face severe shortages as pandemic grinds forward The Hill

Washington state’s COVID-19 vaccine planning fell short on logistics, sowing disorder and mistrust Seattle Times

KILL’d the BILL The Brockovich Report

The People the Suburbs Were Built for Are Gone Motherboard

The McMansion Hell Yearbook: 1978 McMansion Hell

Class Warfare

Antitrust Legislation Is Essential to Racial and Economic Justice in Agriculture TruthOut

The digital divide is giving American churches hell Ars Technica

Facebook, Twitter CEOs in talks to testify at House hearing as soon as March Politico

East Germany’s Shock Therapy Jacobin

No longer an outlier: New York ends commercial surrogacy ban AP

Hoisted from comments (flora):

Biden Transition

President Biden Only Just Beat His Granddaughter At Mario Kart Gizmodo


The Taliban Close In on Afghan Cities, Pushing the Country to the Brink NYT

Trump Transition

Public policy and health in the Trump era The Lancet (furzy)


Why Are Republicans Still This Loyal to a Mar-a-Lago Exile? NYT (David L)

Mitch McConnell deepens GOP civil war by warning he could OPPOSE Trump-backed candidates such as daughter-in-law Lara and Marjorie Taylor Green in favor of ‘electable’ Republicans Daily Mail

Transcript: Mitch McConnell’s Trump impeachment speech Al Jazeera

Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing CEO Said Board Moved Quickly on MAX Safety; New Details Suggest Otherwise WSJ

The Boeing 737 Max is flying again. Not every airline wants to admit it ZDNet


Cybersecurity bill to plunge Myanmar into darkness Asia Times

Myanmar coup: Western embassies warn military to avoid violence Deutsche Welle


Interview: Uttarakhand flood is a tragic reminder of the dangers Himalayas face from climate change Scroll

Shah’s CAA dilemma, Ram vs Durga, Dinesh Trivedi — Every day has a new twist in Bengal The Print

One year of Covid-19: How well did India cope when it came to the lives and deaths of its people? Scroll


Brexit: as half its sales are wiped out, silk firm joins exodus to Europe Guardian

Brexit trade disruption fuels boom at French and Irish ports FT


Catalonia election: Socialists win, but separatists expand majority Deutsche Welle

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. The Rev Kev

    “US cold snap: Why is Texas seeing Arctic temperatures? ”

    Well at least that explains what Amfortas reported on seeing where he lives. Hope that he hasn’t lost power. So that article said ‘Cold air outbreaks such as these are normally kept in the Arctic by a series of low-pressure systems, the NWS said. However, this one moved through Canada and spilled out into the US last week.’ So does that mean that everything that people in Texas are seeing is what Canadians would call Tuesday?

    1. carl

      I woke up this morning to at least six inches of snow. Here in San Antonio, it hasn’t snowed meaningfully since 1988 (we had an overnight burp about three years ago). Temperatures are at record lows. Nobody, and I mean nobody, knows how to drive in the snow, so most government, schools and businesses shut down. You’re right, Kev, this is nothing to the Canadians or to those in Montana, where I spent five years as a child.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        i drank beer so i could sleep at 7pm last night, so i could arise at midnight for my shift as Firekeeper.
        snow ended at around 2am, and it got down to 4 degrees…less wind than forecast, maybe 15 mph, steady.
        slept again at 5. and just went a walkabout to ckeck on everything.
        snow everywhere…4″ on the flats, with drifts up to 2 feet against fences and outbuildings.
        underneath it all is a 1/2″ layer of now rock hard ice…and there are patches where the wind not only swept the snow away, but polished the ice layer to a high gloss.
        couldn’t get to the front gate due to this…and it appears that the dirt road out of here is in that condition.
        i’ve seen one truck…big 4wd dually, neighbor’s brother…but i know where he came from…maybe a mile up the highway.
        i could use another bottle of propane, for youngest’s heater, but we’ll likely make do(note to self: tie that heater into the big tank this summer…rush job done when we were penniless)
        scanner is alive with welfare checks…old folks with power out, so their health equipment stopped, etc…cell service is down, too…so they’re running the roads to go check on isolated people nobody’s heard from.
        electric coop folks are run ragged…i think that’s likely the trucks i can hear laboring on the highway.

        forecast high today:18.
        it’s sunny, and that makes it all gorgeous…but all y’all northerners can keep this mess,lol…give me my heat and blowing dust any day.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          I think that is a good deal, Amfortas — I’ll take all your snow here in Massachusetts if you take all our 90+ degree days.

          Done and done!

          Seriously, cold I find you can escape (a jacket, a fire), heat — never.*

          *Could also be due to the fact that air conditioning is nowhere near as widespread in coastal New England as even in the Mid-Atlantic, let alone the South/West.

          1. Wukchumni

            Humordor & Houston have attempted to kill me on numerous occasions with their onerous humidity hoping to leave a pile of clothing where I once stood.

            I think Californians can get used to cold, and we’re cool with a dry heat, but if you ever wanted to do us in, humidity is our ticket out.

        2. lordkoos

          It’s mind blowing to me that Texas is colder than central WA in the middle of February, I think the high today will be around 27. It’s been cold and snowy here but nothing out of the ordinary. Until last week it had been an uncommonly warm winter, and we’re back to the low 40s tomorrow.

        3. Chris

          That all sounded a little uncomfortable, Amfortas, until I remembered that you do your temperatures in Fahrenheit, not Celsius. Yikes!

          Stay safe.

        4. ChrisPacific

          Snow over a layer of sheet ice sounds particularly dangerous for driving. You’d get some traction from the snow for a while, until you hit a spot where it had worn or blown away, then you’d be skating. Hope everyone is staying safe. (The ice is probably what did for the power lines).

      2. Jack

        Nobody except a very small group of people knows how to drive in six inches of snow. What Canadians, Montanans and other northern types know how to do is PLOW snow.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          that was the scanner all day yesterday, before they closed the highways…locating and rescuing folks who just HAD to get somewhere TODAY.
          o there’s a buch of cars and trucks and semis strung out along the entire length of our 2 big highways.
          also heard mention on the scanner this am that they have a “warming station” set up in the community building that is also the temporary courthouse.
          ferrying people who have lost power to there, until they can contact relatives, etc.
          hotel has been commandeered for this purpose, too…but they have electric heat only, so idk what the plan is if the power goes out and stays out.
          this is shaping up to be a disaster on par with a hurricane.
          right now, my world is about 5 acres out of 20.
          never seen anything like it.

          plumbers are gonna get rich in the next month or so

          1. foghorn longhorn

            Hang in there bud, this s is brutal
            Still have power (Tyler) and most water lines, one bathroom froze up
            Very worried about horse and pig tho
            As long as propane tank doesn’t freeze up, we will have stove and hot water
            Do not see how you northern folks do it, we are just not set up for this crap
            Won’t get above freezing before friday afternoon
            Best of luck to all

            1. Glen

              Sorry to hear about the frozen pipes, those are a complete PITA.

              We keep a trickle of water running (just having the faucet set so it drips four times a minute is enough) can really help preventing freezing.

              1. flora

                “trickle of water running”. yep, and opening the sink under-the-cabinet doors to the household heat for sinks set against an exterior wall.

        2. Janie

          True. In the South the equipment is expensive, is rarely used and needs to be maintained even when unused. Snow plow operators and sanders are in short supply, also; and ya can’t just send anybody out in a blizzard to run that kind of machine.

        3. BobW

          I was fortunate enough to escape a bad time in heavy snow in the mid-seventies because the car I was driving, a Datsun 510, was so light it did not sink into the snow. Snow caught me mid-trip and after driving very slowly and never coming to a complete stop was able to make it home.
          Since the car rode high it never pushed snow with the differential or bumper. My success was not due to any great ability on my part, just sheer luck and a light weight car.

          1. wadge22

            Light has advantages and disadvantages. I certainly wouldn’t just go looking for something light if I was looking for the best snow driving vehicle available.
            Remember, the weight of the car increases grip, which is why race cars are putting huge wings over their drive tires to get downforce and increase traction. Weight is constant downforce. Of course it has other effects as well.

            Sometimes driving a light car in the snow feels like trying to steer the puck on an air hockey table. I know it. I drive a Geo Metro.
            But not in the winter I don’t.

            1. ambrit

              I somewhat knew a man in Slidell Louisiana who raced in the 2 litre displacement road race circuit here in the North American Deep South. He had two Lotus racers from the 1960s. The engines were 2 litre inline four cylinder matched with the famous Lotus double de-clutch transmissions.
              He told me about the strict weight limits imposed on the racing cars involved. The vehicles would be weighed at the start of the race and then have their fuel tanks topped up and the car reweighed at the finish. One way to cheat was to add weight to the rear bumper during the race for the extra traction that afforded. Then dump the extra weight before the end.
              Tonight, I went to do the shopping and had to slow down to about ten or fifteen miles per hour to cross several road bridges in town. They had already iced over and were holding the snow intact. Elsewhere, the heat of the ground was melting the snow.
              To think, our ancestors trudged “mile after mile, through the snow, down to St. Alonzo’s” to bag a beast for breakfast.

        4. carl

          Well, that and chains and snow tires. You know, the ones with the studs that they keep in the garage until winter

        5. km

          Remember, boys and girls, four wheel drive does not mean four wheel stop. A 4×4 does not stop any faster than any other car, nor will it necessarily maneuver in snow in any better than any other car. It will get moving easier, but that’s about it.

          You see a lot of 4x4s in the ditches here in North Dakota. This is often the result of people ignoring the points made previously.

          1. wadge22

            Yes. And the number of lifelong Northeast Ohio drivers I meet who still get that wrong is amazing. And the amount of (excess) money some of them have spent, telling themselves they are making the smart move. And those who won’t believe it even after it’s been explained to them, or as even they wait to have it pulled out of a ditch.

            Snow tires will do so so much more for you. Also modern traction control, which I would have to guess is standard in most new vehicles of any drive configuration by now, although maybe not the bare bones FWD cars. I know new cars all have ABS, which you would not want to be without.

            People with Subarus and all seasons have overpaid and missed the point if they were thinking of winter capabilities. And they would be safer in a Honda with some Blizzaks or X-Ices.
            In a blizzard I would gladly drive a RWD base model SUV with well maintained premium snow tires over a similar sized top-of-the-line advanced-AWD luxury crossover with several year old touring all seasons.

            Anyone who isn’t broke and is worried about safe winter driving needs good winter tires. Anyone who is worried about safe driving in general needs good tires well suited to the driving conditions at hand.
            Buying the best tires you reasonably can as often as necessary should be priority 2 in your automobile safety budget. Priority 1 is being sure to get any model equipped with adequate brakes, seatbelts, airbags, mirrors, and lights.

            1. coboarts

              I don’t like to comment here anymore, but buy a German car. Back when I was stationed in Germany and lived as far from my post as I could, I drove an Opel Kadet. After my roommate rocked me out of the ice, I drove my 30 kliks to the tac site. German cars drove where they needed to go. All others graced the snow banks on either side.

          2. Josef K

            Exactly. So few people seem aware of this. In fact, I’d argue 4x4s, ironically, have longer stop times/distances due to the extra weight.
            Experience teaches, so I think (haven’t lived there since the widespread use of 4x4s) in the mid-west that lesson has been learned, but it certainly hasn’t in the PNW, where many 4x4s are driven all year around but never really tested until the few snow days (not even) every year. Evidence of the ignorance pointed out above inevitably appears, so I try to avoid the roads completely so as not to become part of one exhibit.

        6. fajensen

          In the Nordic countries, we all have snow tires, some have studded tires, and many also have a set of snow chains in the boot and a shovel. We can drive in the winter.

          But, Nobody* here would drive out in six inches of snow! We stay in and wait until the road is cleared before driving again!!

          It won’t be six inches uniformly distributed, there will also be metres high piles of snow drifts across the roads. If one hits a deep snowdrift with a car, it will sit there on top of the compacted snow with the wheels spinning off the ground. Then it has to be dug free with the shovel ….. that is:

          Before the snowplough comes barrelling into it. The drivers can’t see much and they are going fast so getting stuck in the road here is like parking on a level crossing, very much something to be avoided.

          Give it a day’s rest and the roads will be reasonable again. That’s how we drive in the snow here :).

          *) Except for the military, who does the ambulance service with tracked vehicles on these occasions. The soldiers always look happy like little kids when they get tasked with driving APC’s for the emergency services.

      3. Steven A

        I was living in San Antonio in January ’85 when 13 inches of snow fell in one weekend. They were using road graders to try to clear the snow from the freeways. I moved to Ohio three months later and haven’t see that much snow at one time since. Hope you get through this OK, Carl.

        1. carl

          That was the one I remembered, Steven, in 1985. This one is comparable We’ll be ok, just need to consult a plumber in the next couple of days for the missing water pressure.

    2. cnchal

      > . . . what Canadians would call Tuesday?

      No. Big dfifference between the ice Texas is getting and eight inches of fluffy snow that is fun to drive in.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          yeah. the ice underneath is what gets ya.
          me and youngest made the journey to town just now…11 miles, there and back,<25 mph, never got out of third gear.
          few hours of sunlight mustve helped, along with the evident sanding operations they've been doing.
          still…not my idea of a nice sunday drive.
          i watch shows sometimes that take place in michigan or nebraska or moscow or norway…and have often wondered: is it really just "tuesday" for y'all?
          if i had to live in places that did this every year, for months, i'd never leave the house.
          but i gather that y'all don't just shut down and hibernate for 5 months out of the year.

          tromping around this morning seeing to the critters and bringing wood in, in 4 layers a big furry hat and my best(but inadequate) boots, i felt like Jeremiah Johnson.(and that damned song has been in my head ever since)

          10 degrees…but youngest has another 90# bottle of propane, i have more cigs and momma has her medicine(the reason we made the trip: i can roll my own if need be, and wood is adequate above 15 degrees or so)…went to the pharmacist's house and he met me in his front yard…we'll settle up when this is over…tiny, isolated town, for the win.

          1. homeroid

            Yep slow an easy is the way to go. slow down wayyy before you need to stop. Here on the coast of SE AK i have driven the worst conditions ya can imagine being the taxi driver. Having all the right equipment to deal with winter is what makes life easier.
            When you all get cold we get wet. Pesky jet stream.
            I love a snowy winter, the ice the ice such a chore,snow softens the hardship with silence and beautiful days. hang in brother.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              yeah. the quiet has been weird, once i noticed it.
              out rambling around, and i heard a noise, like an extended whoosh, very soft and faint.
              it was the wind…a high wind…in the trees 100 yards over, then the crackling of the ice on the branches as the wind gust reached towards me…and then it hit me…a little personal blizzard…a snow devil…but so quiet!
              without the wind, all sound is muffled.
              didn’t expect that, either.
              silence…what one imagines the moon sounds like.
              and then today…clear sky, brilliant sunlight…and it’s breathtaking out there.
              filled up my fone with pictures.

              all that said…ok…i’ve done it…experience a blizzard and week long ice and snow event.
              montana can have it’s winter back, now.
              our last several februarys have been heatwaves, with a minor freeze in march.
              i prefer that weather pattern,lol.

              1. jr

                amfortas, I envy you that beautiful weather! A tip from a mountain boy: for extra warmth slip a plastic bag over each sock before putting on your boots, say like a 7-11 bag.

          2. DJG, Reality Czar

            Quoting Amfortas the Hippie to Amfortas the Hippie:
            if i had to live in places that did this every year, for months, i’d never leave the house.
            but i gather that y’all don’t just shut down and hibernate for 5 months out of the year.

            No, you wouldn’t. If you lived up here in the Great Lake States, you’d find all kinds of things to do. [Ice fishing is not required!]]

            Right now, at six Central Standard Time, here in Chicago, we are getting about ten inches of snow on top of the twelve or so inches on the ground. Things are quiet. Even our rambunctious squirrels and and busy rabbits are taking the day off in the hidey-holes. And you know how much squirrels of the Great Lake States like to eat pizza!

            But you’d adapt. If it were a normal winter–no COVID, just the usual snow, slush, and annoyances, I’d say, “Hey, Amfortas, meet me at the Hopleaf for those sinful french fries served in a paper cone and for a nip of Templeton rye,” or “Amfortas, they have that weird but delicious cognac and that stellar carrot cake over at Kopi Cafe,” and you’d find a way to slip n slide through the lousy weather to be convivial. Falling down in the snow is part of the territory. Just take it gently.

            And I’m not even going to mention various diners in Wisconsin and all of those pies with whipped cream on top.

            All the best. Did I mention that I made my appointment for my COVID vaccine? Wednesday’s going to be what you call “Tuesday,” and I am doing to head out into the snow to get needled.

          3. Displaced Platitudes

            In MN sleet and ice have become the new normal before snowfalls (thanks, global warming!). I feel your pain for not having to endure those conditions often, Amfortas.
            Ice storms in the hill country of AR and TN were quite something and required precision maneuvering and great anticipatory skills to navigate through. Nonetheless, being a northerner gave an advantage in the understanding of coefficients of friction and the dangers of attempting to shift weight and center of gravity normally. I arrived at work several times to find a locked building and no other cars in the lot when I lived in the south.
            Heat and power are the understandably of great concern down there; I wish everyone there the best of luck in staying safe and warm!

    3. juno mas

      The Cold Snap has missed my portion of California. Yesterday was 70 F. and this mornings low was 49 F. Unfortunately, this has brought gazillions of tourists to “The California Riviera”, with hotels and restaurants overflowing. It’s only a matter of time until the spike in Covid cases begins anew.

      1. jonhoops

        I can’t help but feel a bit of schadenfreude for all the people posting their California Exodus memes on social media. All that money you were gonna save on taxes, now you get to pay for burst water pipes.

        1. howseth

          14 years in Chicago (’80-’90’s). No one I knew – mostly artists – ever lost their heat in winter. Regardless of the ramshackle places some lived. I gotta say the grid held up. (Though you best not forget your apartment keys – and lock yourself out)

          Meanwhile, here in Santa Cruz a drunk can sneeze near a power poll and the power goes out in half the city. (just a slight exaggeration). I’ll take our winters and dry heat, thank you – but the fire seasons ARE getting worse

          It warms my wicked heart to read weather reports from where I used to live NY & Chicago.

    4. Daryl

      In Houston. No power since this morning.

      > So does that mean that everything that people in Texas are seeing is what Canadians would call Tuesday?

      The temps / snow would be laughed at by most of the country, however the infrastructure isn’t in any way prepared for the ice or temperatures. Thus we’re in the middle of a mass power outage and the roads are unsafe.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        apparently doing the rolling blackout thing, here: 2 hours off, 2 hours on…more or less.
        stepmom, brother and cousin in orbit around the greater houston area are simply without power…and thus, without heat…because all of it relies on forced air electric/gas furnaces…if not all electric.
        stepmom in clearlake has a bed full of westies.
        brother and clan are upstairs in sleeping bags in kingwood, hoping the cell fone flashlight doesn’t give out.
        cousin is drunk in a hotel room with a candle and a couple of milfs.

        and i’m on the graveyard shift as Firekeeper*, with a couple of candles , a couple of amish lanterns and a couple of 110 year old Hurricane Lamps that my great grandad bought at woolworths in downtown houston, managing 3 woodstoves.
        (* in normal winter weather, i’d put in a “ni-night log”—dense, large—at 10 or so, and have good coals at my usual arising time (3am in winter=4am after spring forward).There is some talent involved in this…pick a bad log, and yer messing with sticks in the cold)
        with this montana bullshit, the fire must be kept at a low roar in order to do any good. currently 2 degrees outside, and 40 by my bed(coldest spot in house)…54 in big center room.)…so we do it in shifts. Teenage/young adults stay up til midnight, and i get up at 12:30…wife takes over at 5am.

        mom and stepdad have the one woodstove, and 2 fireplaces that they neglect to maintain, and so cannot use.
        stepdad is paraplegic vietnam vet(T-5), and can’t get in or out of bed without power…and bed deflates without it, too.
        big mess.
        I lobby for decade to get a genny…but no…must recover the furniture,lol.
        (similarly, i urged her to let me shut off her water before the deep cold saturday night…nope…not happening. so she’s got at least one busted pipe to a water heater…i shut it off.
        if any of her outside faucets go, whole house will have to be shut down…and that’s steel pipe, and beyond my skill to heal…so wait for a plumber for weeks. oth, we endure a week without, and then turn it back on and good to go,lol.
        this brings me around to dependencies….and just how many ways the average person is dependent on various systems over which they have no control.
        I’ve spent a good portion of the last 25 years attempting to build alternatives to those dependencies….ergo, water—i have 1400 gallons of rainwater, to be run through a Big Berkie Filter= i can do without power to the well house….and then there’s the windmill, if that fails.
        heat=wood and propane and electrical…i have choices that my houston relatives do not.
        brother and stepmom both have “fireplaces”…that rely on natgas utility and electrical utility…without either, they are just fancy looking holes in the wall. if they attempted to burn some sticks in them, they’d burn their houses.
        i understand that there’s not enough planet for everyone to live like me…20 acres, embedded in prolly a few thousand acres i have access to for fuel and food…still…
        a little redundancy with necessities would go a long way towards mitigating the potentially deadly suffering now being endured across texas right now.
        instead, nobody even considers the dependencies they rely on until they fail…and then it’s too late.
        my houston bunch lives where they get hurricanes…and yet none of them have a hurricane lamp?
        the ones i have have been on a high shelf for all my life, passed down to me because nobody else wanted them.

        such oversights mystify me.

          1. amfortas the hippie

            solar and wind if i get anything from dads will
            for well and freezers mainly
            if this happens regularly, more wood laid in and more rainwater
            i don’t expect an ice age tho
            this a result of heating pole ergo smaller differential ergo weak circumpolar jet ergo that jet meandering and tossing bolts of arctic our way
            ie it’s a feature of warming planet
            eventually a more or less stable equilibrium
            then stagnation
            which is a whole other set of giant problems

            1. amfortas the hippie

              another essential that just occurred to me
              practically everyone in the usa needs running water to got to the bathroom
              except us

              composting toilet requires no water
              sure, the pee diversion line is frozen solid all the way to the built wetland… but that just means changing the barrel out sooner than usual
              again, i understand my situation is anomalous

              1. The Rev Kev

                If the ground that you described is so treacherous to walk on with underlying ice and that you still have to go out to feed the critters like you mentioned, then perhaps it might be wise to invest in some ice cleats to strap onto your boots if you think that this might happen again. Had to walk along an icy road a coupla times and that was just a accident waiting to happen.

                1. Amfortas the hippie

                  those have been on my mind since 5am thursday.
                  never thought i’d need them…never even occurred to me.
                  so far, my boots and abundance of care have been sufficient.
                  both boys have slipped and fallen…but they refuse to wear their boots…this is a lark to them
                  …at least until the power went out…no tv or lights…that got their attention.
                  high of 32 today
                  with 30 mph south wind.
                  then more ice and snow, but not near as cold(19-21 for lows)
                  68 and sunny by saturday.
                  we’ll hold out.

                  hafta haul a bunch of water to critters, today…unpleasant and treacherous.
                  and haul a bunch of wood to the house from the woodshed…also must cut a lot for the 2 smaller stoves.
                  world made by hand.

                  still better than my houston bunch are doing.

                  1. The Rev Kev

                    Your descriptions are bringing back for me memories of my time in Europe where it could get really cold. One of my best investments, apart from winter shoe inliners, was a string vest t-shirt, I kid you not. Have one of them under a shirt and they would form little pockets of warm air that helped deal with the cold. As a bonus, in hot weather when worn under a t-shirt, they stop you having a wet sticky shirt clinging to you when you get hot and sweaty.

  2. Bill Smith

    Myanmar and the Internet

    I wonder how easy it will be to locate a the signal being broadcast off Starlink phased-array dish antenna.

    And when that service and others of its ilk are widely available if that will change anything in regard to counties cutting off the internet or attempting to build firewalls around their country.

    Particularly if those systems can be modified to a receive only in certain circumstances. LIke SatNogs.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Trusting Elon Musk to create a non-chokeable communications network? I believe his business model is built on that kind of activity.

      I’m sure the Tech God who is touting blockchain could NEVER have it in mind to do the kind of censorship and domination and content control and harvesting of personal information that Bezos and Zuckerberg “Dumb Fucks!” are doing…

      1. Bill Smith

        I would expect Musk to lead with his wallet. If he is getting paid by his subscribers, would he turn that down if the government of Myanmar told him to block all transmissions in Myanmar?

  3. Charles D Myers

    There are places in the US where masks are not required. Restaurants and schools are open.

    Life is some what normal.

    Why aren’t people dying by the thousands?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Per the actuaries, there were 300k excess deaths in the US from January to October 3rd, 2020. This is without seasonal flu showing up. This is the number over what is expected. As to the number killed by Covid because no one is set up to count or autopsy everyone, this is an uncertain number even removing the deaths which would generate police reports. It’s a very high number during the age of Covid. No one under estimated.

            1. Phillip Cross

              Interesting chart!

              It looks like the US had an unexpected epidemic of pneumonia (totally unrelated to covid), in addition to the covid epidemic!

              Last winter, before covid really go going, they were seeing ~4k (non covid) pneumonia deaths a week, but during the peaks of covid they were seeing well over 10k (non covid) pneumonia deaths a week. What an incredible coincidence!

          1. Larry Y

            On top of the low flu numbers, don’t forget the plunge in traffic accidents at the beginning, or the overstretched hospital systems where people either avoided care or weren’t able to get it.

      1. Charles D Myers

        So it is your position that thousands more are dying in these relaxed areas compared to lock down areas?

        1. The Historian

          The answer to that is YES! Why are you even questioning that? It has been proven over and over and over!!
          All you have to do is look at the charts. Those countries who actually did do lockdowns, like S Korea, Australia, New Zealand, etc had FAR less deaths than those countries who didn’t do lockdowns. And even in the US, where the closest we ever had to a lockdown was last spring, deaths did go down. But business is more important than humans in the US and the US has never had a real lockdown since and our death rates are the highest in the world.

          Go look for yourself:

          1. Chris

            Not only did Australia dodge a large wave of COVID deaths, the precautions meant that our normal flu season just didn’t happen.

        2. GERMO

          seriously? does this stuff have to infest literally every corner of the internet or what? The pandemic is real.

              1. jsn

                Well, what was done was to put millions of low paid workers out of work.

                It wasn’t really a lock down but it definitely hit poor people excessively hard making hard lives much harder.

                So yes, an excessive, incompetent bordering on homicidal response. The numbers speak for themselves. Unemployment, illness and death, all excessive numbers this year and all a function of policy, whether the intent of policy or not.

                1. Riverboat Grambler

                  You’re talking about a half-hearted patchwork lockdown where millions of workers lost work, while millions more workers were forced to work in dangerous conditions. People were not paid to stay home. Well, many PMC types were able to work from home. Grocery store workers not so much.

                  After that, big business had it’s way. “Get back to work and open the schools!” These choices resulted in half a million deaths and economic disaster.

                  Looks to me like the government response was far from “excessive”; it was wholly inadequate. In the US, the idea of a true lockdown while paying citizens to stay home was never even seriously considered. What exactly was “excessive” about such an approach?

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          A question would be: how many people are dying per set-number-of-people in the relaxed areas versus in the lock-down areas. If there is a difference in THAT number, then reasons for that difference can be searched for.

          And if there IS a difference in that number, will there also be a difference in the future numbers of long-tail covid and lifelong-tail covid between the two areas?

          My intuition tells me that coronavid will come to be viewed as the ” Lyme disease of viruses”.

          1. Patrick

            “How to be a Genius” in today’s Links (8 down from the top). (It’s the author’s equation for genius – I liked your response)

    1. Kurtismayfield

      Transmission of viruses have a density driven effect. This is why California and New York have had high numbers

      What is your position, that spacing and masks are unnecessary?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I hadn’t thought of that. So the best comparison would be between such rates in the relaxed cities (if any) versus the lockdown cities, so equal density populations under the two approaches can be compared.

        1. chris

          I think we’ll find all kinds of add-on effects that made different regions outcomes tragically different. Like the possibility (mentioned here I think?) that the parti ulate pollution from the California wildfires made people in California more prone to infection. Or perhaps some of the less dense places in the sun belt taking advantage of their residents Vitamin D sufficiency to make it seem like the virus wasn’t as big a deal as it was made out to be? I don’t expect accuracy in a time of war. Hopefully we’ll have people who can analyze and assess all the factors that came into play soon so we know how to react to the next challenge.

    2. jhallc

      “There are places in the US where masks are not required. ”

      It would help me understand the reasoning behind your comment if you could provide an example of what “places” you are pointing to. What scale are you talking about ? City, County, State level?. There will always be outliers due to many factors (population density, random luck, Airports etc.) that don’t match up with the general trend. However, they are not valid points to use in a discussion of the number of deaths in the entire country. It’s a bit like saying, because there is record cold in Texas now it’s an argument against global warming.

        1. juno mas

          With all the oldster’s in retirement villages, maybe it was easier to limit Covid spread by isolating on the golf course. As the scientific reports say, “Further study needed.”

        2. JTMcPhee

          Florida numbers are deeply suspect. The Rep government here is all pure Chamber of Commerce Rah-Rah, and de Santis has intentionally chopped not only the reporting of dead and sick but truckled the response. I got my first Moderna shot from the VA with no hassle and VA has administered more doses than any state, per its accounting. That apparently is the case over much of the US — why can a government entity, even one as hamstrung by careerism and privatization as the VA, manage that kind of performance, both as to supplies of vaccine and rapid administration, hmmm? (Hint — single payer)

          My wife, among tens of thousands of others, has been playing the complex game of using multiple devices to try to log into the crap sites, both state and private, to get a vaccination. Just bullshit, top to bottom. Don’t hold FL up as any kind of paradigm for anything, except the worst of the worst in Dem politics and how corporate interests can come to own EVERYTHING including state and local government.

    3. Michaelmas

      There are places in the US where masks are not required. Restaurants and schools are open …Why aren’t people dying by the thousands?

      Today I am driving up to a funeral home in Stockton from the Bay Area in California, to pay my respects to a good friend of mine — smart, funny, talented, very overweight, African-American — who got taken away in less than a week by the virus.

      On a ‘life is comedy to those who think, but a tragedy to those who feel’ basis, I can find the vast inability of masses of Americans to ever learn anything at all and to think outside of their moronic tribal conspiracy theories amusing. But when ultimately it’s always the same schtick — “we’re Americans and we’re morons” — it does get wearisome.

      Endemic COVID has the potential bring life expectancy in the U.S. back to what it was a couple centuries ago, as people get progressively damaged from Long Covid and repeated reinfections, and eventually succumb to it long before their time.

      That in turn will accelerate the social split between upper and lower classes, where the former already live to their nineties and the latter– the Deplorables of Discardistan — routinely die in their fifties and sixties.

  4. Tom Stone

    The “McMansion Hell” link is spectacular.
    I have been through hundreds of high end homes here in Sonoma County over the last dozen years or so and this home is unsurpassed.
    I do have one question, are the “Floor ducks” actually sex toys?

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Vive la difference?

      while the Tudors never came to America, a place that had not yet been “discovered” by the time the Tudors were in power in England

      Point of pedantry: Elizabeth I was the last of the Tudors and the short-lived Roanoke colony was founded in 1585. So swap “settled” for “discovered”.

  5. Edward

    “biden admin is beginning to end physical mail for federal prisoners.”

    During the election, some people may have hoped a Biden administration might tamp down the corruption, but the signs so far are not good. This always happens with elections; there is a lot of empty talk and positive assumptions about candidates which are forgotten after the election, when a darker reality emerges. These days, though, the public is fairly riled up, and may scrutinize the corruption. The latest establishment strategy seems to be to attempt to censor the internet of rival viewpoints.

  6. Fireship

    > biden admin is beginning to end physical mail for federal prisoners.

    I’ve said it before: the most defining feature of American society is the vicious cruelty shown to the weakest members of society. Bonus points for being able to monetize the cruelty. This evil empire cannot end quick enough.

    1. marcyincny

      As Chris Hedges points out, a poor black man on the streets of Camden, NJ is worth nothing but put in him jail and he’s worth $40,000/year to the corporate prison system.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Don’t worry. Since Biden seems fine with DeJoy, there won’t be a post office pretty soon.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Dianne Feinstein’s husband will certainly be happy with it. Think of all the postal properties he will be able to flip when the Democrats and their Feinstein’s husband get the Postal Service exterminated with Biden’s help. ( And Countess Draculamala’s help too, no doubt, filthy Clintandenite that she is).

          And think of all the WPA works of art that rich private collectors will be able to buy and strip out of all the liquidated postal service buildings.

    3. marym

      It already began.

      This is from a subsequent tweet in the thread: “Update:…from what we can tell so far: Biden admin transition team chose to keep this trump pilot program to begin end physical mail in BOP, as is already happening in cruelest state prisons”

      08/28/2019 “Senators Bob Casey and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania are asking the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) to impede the flow of illegal drugs into federal prisons by enhancing its security. Specifically, the congressmen want the BOP to adopt a new procedure for processing inmates’ mail, modeled after the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections’ (PADOC) system.”,33099?

      02/04/2020 “Soon, federal prisoners will not be able to receive any paper correspondence but will have to read letters on “kiosks” in housing units. Bureau of Prisons (BOP) officials say the move is needed in order to stop the flow of drugs coming in through the mail… Critics say that’s nonsense and the problem lies elsewhere.”

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How many of the guards are members of the same gangs which some of the prisoners are members of?

    4. WobblyTelomeres

      You know the company providing the service will probably hire prison labor to open and scan the mail, as prison (or constitutionally permitted slave) labor is far cheaper. Thus, completing the scam: how to get paid to have the prisoners open their own damn mail.

  7. Wukchumni

    How to be a genius Aeon
    It was weird growing up, I felt like an adolescent object d’art in adoration of sorts, look, he can do multiplication tables up to 10 in the first grade!

    My business partner used to say that I was a 12 cylinder engine that rarely needed to use more than more four, which I think was my way of compensating in being gifted with an IQ in the low triple digits.

    When I was younger I wanted to remember everything I ever read, saw or heard, and was in the perfect occupation which valued those qualities, combined with essentially magnifying glasses for eyes which allowed me to differentiate grades (imagine Wall*Street stocks each having the potential of say a hundred different possibilities of valuation…) and values, and a predilection for making historical connections with the aged round metal discs I was constantly in search of for 3 decades. It helped that no day on the job resembled another, I felt for people whose work was mundane or pretty much the same, how droll that must’ve been?

    Most jobs involve selling something, but not in numismatics as buying was as important as selling if not more so, and the majority of what I did was dealer to dealer transactions, sharpie against sharpie in a test of abilities.

    In a fashion, I was a time traveler of sorts, the metallic talismans my ticket for a voyage to the past.

    It all started during a family road trip to Canada in 1972, my dad was all about arbitrage and up over their coins had silver in them until 1968, and he would send us into a bank with $10 and ask for 2 rolls of Dimes, and maybe there’d be 3 silver ones out of 100, and he’d replace those and send another one of us to redeem them for cash, and repeat the process many dozens of times.

    We’re talking about a Dime that had 13 Cents worth of silver, no big deal in the scheme of things to a 10 year old American Gresham on vacay, but it set a hook in my mind.

    The object of my desire was rarely more than a few inches wide, and its funny now as my current infatuations are the largest living things in the world, I think i’m overcompensating a bit.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “… I felt like an adolescent object d’art in adoration of sorts…”

      aye. that was me, for a time, before everyone learned to be afraid of the kid who could see right through all their nonsense and obfuscation.
      i learned to read…on my own, somehow…before i was 3, which is when they noticed it.
      my disruptive phase began in 3rd grade, due to utter boredom. that’s also when the bullying began, although it was minor until junior high.
      i hated school from then on…and 4th grade is when i established my practice of turning in homework before class let out, and spending most of my time reading in the back of the room.
      i got in trouble for correcting teachers on greek history, american history, dinosaurs, and so on…bringing the relevant volume of the deluxe britannica the next day to prove them wrong….and generally being sent to the hall or the office for my trouble. This happened over and over…because they were wrong a lot, and wouldn’t admit it.
      …and i couldn’t let it lie.
      I thought we were all there to learn and stuff….but we were apparently there for some other purpose.
      i remember being bewildered by this behavior.
      my folks, at first, were all excited to have a prodigy…but this soon wore off, and then it was resentment from mom and fear from my dad.
      genius can be a curse…the compensation is being able to See in the land of the blind.
      this article barely scratches the surface…especially when we’re talking about America…let alone rural Texas in the 70’s and 80’s.
      Amor Fati, and all…i’d do it all again…but it irks me when, upon discovering that i am monstrously intelligent, someone wishes aloud that they had what i have.
      the one comes with the other, unless yer daddy’s rich and yer ma is good lookin’.

      numerous websites are apparently down, at least for me..including google(!), so the quote i want to put right here is from memory:
      “one may know the genius by the mob of people chasing him”-Jonathan Swift

      1. Robert Gray


        ‘When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him.’

      2. Wukchumni

        I was a very average student in school, I think as an act of rebellion against what was expected of me, there I showed em’!

        They really doted on me in elementary school, but seemed to care less about my abilities later in high school, which was a relief as I could be just another B- member of the student body.

        I never stopped wanting to learn, just not with a bunch of others.

        The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.

        Aldous Huxley

      3. Old Sarum

        I reckon that school for the majority is 70% child minding and 25% socialization among the kids. Fill the rest in for yourself.


    2. Carla

      If genius in children is encouraged by smart, able, educated and helpfully rich parents, then in America, we are heading for a dark age of talent for several reasons:

      The children of rich, able and smart parents [white people] are now systematically being denied higher education opportunities via social and monetary redistribution of school admissions to minorities and others, who while they may have seeds of genius, are not carrying with them the family history of creativity or genius that having rich, able and smart parents provides. Society cannot substitute for that via government programs. The WPA provided material goods, food and and training in skills to build real things. The equivalent today, HUD and student loans, provides a crutch or future debt obligations.

      Also, whatever genius that is manifest is usually not employed in the mechanical arts and industrialization, building useful things, infrastructure, or the production of inexpensive, useful consumer goods. Rather that that good minds train in squeezing more debt blood out of the American turnip, via financialization, convincing the turnip to buy yet more useless crap, or hogwashing people in useless psychological, religious and emotional retrospective guilt tripping, rather than building a dialectical materialism of hospitals, roads, bridges,schools, and providing an abundance of whatever allows for healthy children and homes.

      The most useful things I ever learned were on a farm, in community college and machine shop. All of which allowed for a productive life and have built security,
      Thank you.

        1. flora

          The teach-to-the-test mania (compliments of silicone valley’s ‘a data collection device in every classroom ‘ ) is an equal opportunity disaster.

          Meanwhile, the narrow-minded parochialism of the neoliberal good-thinkers continues apace. / ;)

  8. maria gostrey

    re: how to be a genius. i was fascinated by the name-checks. mozart & de vinci of course. elizabeth 1 because she fostered the rise of imperialism & the need for capitalism to support it (or maybe the other way around). here i would also add that elizabeth 1 failed at the 1 thing a hereditary ruler is supposed to do – provide an heir.

    for 19th century female novelist i was hoping he would name-check charlotte bronte (“jane eyre” is a deeply revolutionary novel). but louisa may alcott? dont get me wrong. i loved her books & read them all many, many times (“christmas wont be christmas without any presents,” grumbled jo lying on the rug).

    but most risible – bezos.

    & i was deeply saddened that he included neither marx nor tolstoy.

    by happy coincidence, i am re-reading war & peace (i do this almost annually) as well as reading (for the 1st time), marx’s kapital.  tolstoy & marx were contemporaries, each questioning the essential nature of a structure most of us simply accept – for marx, the structure of capitalism; for tolstoy, the structure of society (both social/familial & military).  

    1. nycTerrierist

      agreed, the piece belied a strangely shallow p.o.v.
      then again, the prof was big enough to note his own son saw him as a ‘plodder’

      re: great 19th century authoresses, i submit a vote for George Eliot

      i’ve been binging on BBC productions of Dickens – there are quite a few good ones –
      trippy to know that Marx was his contemporary, also writing London

      1. maria gostrey

        how could i forget “middlemarch”? truly 1 of the worlds great novels. like W&P, panoramic in scope yet, oh!, so personal.

        1. jsn

          I was going to say the Ivy’s are dedicated to maintaining a very particular low standard, one that requires a lot of time, money and conformity.

      1. witters

        To be read, I think, alongside The Gospel in Brief – where Tolstoy sorts God’s grain from the human chaff.

    2. CallMeTeach

      I was also disappointed that he didn’t touch on the “madness” aspect of many geniuses, though he did point out they were often terrible people. Today we would medicate Mozart, and who knows if he would be able to compose (probably not), so how many geniuses have we lost to big pharma?

        1. Wukchumni

          It really hit home how Rx drugged up we are as a nation when I was filling out a dozen pages of questions prior to my eye surgery, and one of them was about 15 lines to describe all of the pharmaceutical drugs I was currently taking, and aside from a couple aspirin once in a blue moon, I take nothing.

          When I handed it in and one of the staff looked it over, she asked if I had missed the prescription drug part of the questionaire, in a ‘come on now, you must be on something!’ sort of query.

    3. vlade

      Bezos is definitely a very driven person, whether he’s a genius, I find it hard to comment (and I suspect few here can either). I’d just point out that genius != good.

      The example I like to give here is Thomas Midgley, Jr., inventor of lead gas and freons. Someone who did more to Earth’s athmosphere than any other single person (now, with the possible exception of BitCoin’s inventor Satoshi, whose invention continues to pump out untold tons of CO2 for nothing).

      Midgley was, by all accounts, a very nice human being. Much nicer than Haldane, who in the process of looking at decompression sickness experimented on his wife and family. But whose results saved untold lives since then.

      Go figure.

    4. chuck roast

      I’m pretty sure it was Don’t Look Back, one of the documentaries on Bob Dylan. In several scenes the great raconteur and Irishman Liam Clancy is being interviewed in back of his Guinness in some neighborhood bar. Liam begins opining on genius, and he says, (use your Irish accent) “Well, genius you know, is like an ever flowing stream that most of us can see, but we are really afraid of the water. Some of us will venture to dip a toe in and those they call a genius. But, Bub…Bub you know, he just jumped right in and went swimming.”

    5. flora

      but most risible – bezos.

      He’s hardly a self-made guy with no connections or family money. His grandfather was Lawrence Prestion Gise of the US Dept. of Agriculture, the US Navy, and of the Atomic Energy Commission, ARPA (Advanced Research Projects Agency)/DARPA(Defense Advanced Research Project Agency.) AEC award 1956, Pentagon Space Deputy (really) 1958, appointed deputy manager of the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) Albuquerque operations office 1961.

      Jeff had an important family connection to tech research interests and govt, imo. Maybe not quite the self-made genius he’s reported to be. ;)

  9. polar donkey

    Biden will end physical mail, but you would still be able to send ICare meals to prisoners. Aramark will deliver a pizza or salad sent by friends/family ordered online to a jail cell yet mail, no way.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Forget Self-Driving Cars—the Pentagon Wants Autonomous Ships, Choppers and Jets”

    Yep, good idea this. Handing over control to something that you potentially have no control over has never gone wrong. No need to worry that it may be computers writing the code that everything is based on. It will be secure. Of course it would be a different matter if countries like China and Russia were also spending resources on cyber warfare- (6:02 mins)

    1. Randall Flagg

      Skynet anyone? Seen the movies, doesn’t go well. . And don’t forget the robots being developed by Boston Dynamics(?). And if all these get hacked…Good Lord. Looks like life imitating art. If you call the Terminator movies art.

    2. zagonostra

      Why can’t they develop smart street lights? I don’t care about self-driving cars. I do get annoyed when I have to sit at a red light and waste time when there is no traffic anywhere because the lights change based on a timer?

      Why not put in some optical instrumentation connected to some computer that optimizes light changes in real time? Think of the million of hours and increased traffic flow that would result?

      1. Fraibert

        This kind of technology has been deployed. I see it on traffic lights around my area–video cameras are mounted on poles that are attached to the traffic light arms. I’m not sure what algorithms are used, though it generally feels like they try to minimize the time allocated to turn lights (i.e., definitely seems to reduce the chances of you squeezing through a turn light if you aren’t already waiting at the light when it turns green–presumably because the system doesn’t detect your car).

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Smart lights and immediate personal convenience are two different things. Holding people up often prevents backups farther up the main road.

          1. Wukchumni

            We’re sitting on about half of the normal average snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, the 2nd year of a drought, and yet i’ve never seen a toilet in California such as the ones that are commonplace in NZ that have 2 buttons, a light amount of water for #1, or a more robust flush for #2, why’s that?

          2. Fraibert

            Presumably it’s something like that. Not criticizing the approach, but that’s about the only particular behavior that I have noticed from the local systems. It could be that the system extends straightaway time if there’s a large backup there (certainly the cameras exist to detect this kind of thing) but I just don’t know–it’s pretty much a literal “black box” system.

            1. NotTimothyGeithner

              Remember state and local dots have limited means, and they are done in a hodge podge. They are always reconfiguring. There is a bypass I use, but the goal of the bypass is to bypass. If cars are using the business route, then they need to change speed limits or light cycles. Occasionally traffic engineers are out there counting and tracking the vehicles. The lights might be set up to get people on the bypass so that traffic isnt there during busy periods on the business end.

              If people like Pete Buttigieg or Elon Musk say it, it’s been around for years in a capacity.

        2. zagonostra

          That’s good, I wish technology would be deployed universally. I’ve ignored my share of “do not turn right on red light” at 2:00am in the morning where being pulled over would not have gone well…

        3. JWP

          You might be referring to a different type, but as I understand it, those are just red light cameras PDs contract out. Why waste money pulling people over when you can cite them by the camera. The lights still don’t turn on time, but the ticketing goes way up, especially when an early yellow can be considered running a red in a four-lane intersection. The speed-ticket economy is moving into the suburbs and these cameras are flying up at every stoplight.

          1. Fraibert

            No, these are different from red light cameras. At least where I am, red light cameras are generally on the sides of the road at angles, held in pretty large boxes (presumably to contain the powerful flash needed for night capture). The traffic light systems I see are mounted above the lights themselves, often one per lane, and look like video surveillance cameras (a function which they possibly also serve, too).

            1. juno mas

              The rationale my city gives for allowing private contractors to install these above the roadway camera’s is for litigation (court proceedings). If you get in a crash you can request the camera’s video from the contractor in pursuit of personal injury damages.

            2. JWP

              The reason I ask is that I know someone who works for a local city and they use the cameras mounted above intersections on light poles to scan for red-light runners. The camera sends her the footage of the car that potentially ran the red and then she reviews it to determine if they get a ticket or not. They may serve a dual purpose, but I had always assumed the small induction loops under stopping points at intersections set off the timed lights. I do see those little black ones that light up blue when a car or bike (especially in bike lanes) is present at less heavily trafficked lights.

          2. Amfortas the hippie

            frederickburg, texas has had those for years…long before anything that could be considered AI-like.
            ergo, i assume that they weren’t even hooked up for the first dozen years…just a wooden duck, prominently placed, that makes people think they’re being watched.
            now, of course, there’s tech to parse the images…although idk if a place like fred could afford it.
            wealthy compared to us…let alone to menard…but still, $ needed elsewhere.
            like for all the human cops writing tickets.(rather large force for their size…and not counting the sheriff’s department. lots of unruly underclass/help that lives in rattletraps and drive by all the fancy digs the bosses and tourists stay in.(this part is not in the brochure on the Chamber website,lol))

        4. ambrit

          Uh, those might be “crime cameras” you see perched up on the signal stanchions.
          Our ‘half horse’ town had some installed at intersections known for ‘light runners’ and accidents. Revenue building was as much of an inducement, if not perhaps the primary inducement, for the installation of those cameras. Fast forward three years and there is a story buried in the inner pages of the local “information media access enterprise” to the effect that those particular cameras had never worked as advertised and were, at that time, totally non-functional.
          It reminds me of those enterprising coppers somewhere who set out one of the older and less used patrol cars next to a busy intersection with an inflatable sex doll, in uniform, of course, to ‘fool’ the local scofflaws. I would like to have seen the requisition form for that purchase.

        5. Procopius

          One of the purposes of traffic signals is to create breaks in the flow of traffic, so there will be opportunities for cars in side streets to enter the flow. That’s why I feel annoyed by people speeding away after the light turns green, just so they can spend a couple of minutes at the next traffic light.

        1. chuck roast

          Yep, I saw a Siemens traffic system in operation on a technical visit to Portsmouth England 25 years ago. They push the traffic beautifully in peak-periods. Three guys sat behind those old timey computer screens and smoothed vehicle traffic for all the primary arterials. I didn’t realize at the time that I was visiting from a $hithole country.

          1. Old Sarum

            Country classification matters:

            Don’t be too hard on it. You’ve got to remember that there has been 25 years of crapification in the UK since your visit. I read that they are going to build more motorways without dedicated hard shoulders (emergency stopping lanes) and they are calling them “Smart”. Whodathunkit?

            Driving in Germany (SiemensLand) a couple of years ago was interesting in that highway signs encourage drivers at standstill (or nearly so) to move in concert so that emergency vehicles have an extra “lane” opened up for quicker access*.

            The following is not one of the signs but you’ll get an illustration:


            Some would call it “socialism”.


            *This is not yet a thing in Australia as far as I know.

        1. chuck roast

          Volumes can be so great that they even overwhelm ostensibly efficient roundabouts. Our English brethren can testify to the many roundabouts that have been signalized.

          1. Tom Bradford

            That’s true, but the original complaint referred to being held up by lights at a junction with nothing else on the road – a problem a roundabout avoids.

            Even where roundabouts have been signalised, their being overwhelmed tends to be a ‘rush-hour-only’ event and the roundabout can be uncontrolled – flashing amber – for twenty hours or so a day freeing up the traffic flow.

    3. Wukchumni

      You almost wonder if the F-35 is as crappy of a plane on purpose, to push us into air autonomy that doesn’t need life support systems we pesky humans so desire?

      1. Michaelmas

        You almost wonder if the F-35 is as crappy of a plane on purpose, to push us into air autonomy that doesn’t need life support systems we pesky humans so desire?

        I used to have report on global security and military issues. My impression was that the F-35 as an actual functioning fighter plane — capable of winning an actual confrontation with, say, its opposite Russian numbers of even two previous generation earlier — was a bad joke, a non-starter.

        On the other hand, as a flying control platform, in which the human squadron leader could stand off from a distance of up to a few hundred miles and direct a flight of, say, a half-dozen robot fighter planes capable of accelerating to 2,000 mph, the F-35 and its systems made quite a bit of sense.

        And that scenario was where a few of the more advanced Pentagon strategists — Andy Marshall’s faction, for those who know anything about such matters — then saw things going. This was more than a decade ago, too.

        1. RMO

          The F-35, as a money-delivery system has few peers in the history of warfare. That is it’s real purpose, and at that it succeeds mightily. In fact, the worse it is as a weapon of war, the better it is at that real function as it will require many, expensive updates, refits, studies on what might replace it and then the big jackpot: when the think tanks issue reports and press releases about how our enemies have outpaced us so we have to spend more, more, more, on the wunderplane that is supposed to do everything the F-35 can’t.

          Kind of hard to keep the gravy flowing if you let people notice that, for example, the ancient B-52 is still chugging along.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      Anybody remember that old Star Trek episode where to reduce casualties in war, wars are fought by computer simulation and after the death toll is calculated, the corresponding number of actual people are expected to report for incineration?

      Note to Pentagon – that was a cautionary tale and not instruction manual.

      1. Riverboat Grambler

        One of my favorites. Great sci-fi concept amplified by Kirk running around blowing stuff up when they try applying their concept of war to his own crew.

        But it’s worth noting that that planets way of war was not meant to preserve people’s lives, but rather their cities infrastructure. Kirk blows up the suicide booths and tells them if they are so dead-set on fighting wars all the time they will have to deal with all of the destruction that comes with it.

        1. a different chris

          And of course Kirk was obviously at least as heavily driven to keep that stunning woman (actress name escapes me at the moment) from stepping into the incinerator as he was to save the rest of them.

              1. ambrit

                For her sake, I hope she doesn’t run into Shahna (Angelique Pettyjohn) from Triskelion! {I’m not certain if the 50’s ‘Retro’ musical group, Sha Na Na, was named after the character or not.}
                Star Trek, TOS, was part of it’s time and the treatment of women in it’s scripts followed the cultural norms. My favourite ‘goof’ on that was in an episode of the animated half hour Star Trek show from 1973-74. In the episode, “The Slaver Weapon,” based on a Larry Niven ‘Known Space’ story, the felinoid Kzinti are holding some Enterprise crew captive. Uhura makes a break for it. The Kzinti do not at first care, their females are non-sapient. A Kzinti specialist on humans has to yell at the other big cats to catch her. “You fools! Human females are sapient!” I saw that as a very sly dig at Terran human social mores as well.

          1. John Anthony La Pietra

            Barbara Babcock — that time, playing Mea Three of Eminiar Seven, IIRC. (I forget offhand whether she or Diana Muldaur had the most TOS guest-starring appearances, though Muldaur took a big lead from her MTG run as Dr. Pulaski.)

  11. The Rev Kev

    “The People the Suburbs Were Built for Are Gone”

    I have seen this effect with the suburb where I grew up in. When it was built by my father – a builder – in the years after WW2, there were lots of young families that moved there. Being near central Sydney made it an attractive area and most of the houses in my street were single-story brick buildings. But of course all those families grew older as they had kids. And when the kids came of age they moved out to marry, start careers and move to their own homes. More years went by and many of the people were aged. Some died like our next door neighbour while others sold out to go to even better areas or even retirement homes.

    In visits to my street over the years I noted the changes. Security bars appeared on home windows. Some houses were knocked down and replaced by two story homes that covered nearly the whole house block. Houses completely updated and renovated according to modern tastes. Using Google StreetView, I see my childhood home becoming one of these houses and it is almost unrecognizable – all in grey, landscaped and the large windows replaced by very small ones necessitating air-conditioning. That street is now a mixture of these modern design house and the original homes from the 50s and the 60s. I don’t know what sort of people live in that street now but going by house prices, they must be very well off people and no longer the starter families that once lived there.

    And as they say, you can’t go back home.

    1. Wukchumni

      My first home was 1,200 sq ft and somehow 6 of us made do with what might get you in trouble for child endangerment today.

      It doesn’t look any different aside from valuation, frankly.

      Cost my parents $12k in 1960 and now Zillows for close to $700k.

      To put in the same performance, it’d be worth around $40 million in 2081.

      Yeah, that’s how stupid the housing bubble has been…

      1. nippersdad

        Same here.

        My Grandparents bought their house in ’53 for fifteen thousand dollars; complete with a paddock for the pony. Twenty years later my parents bought their house in the same neighborhood for fifty thousand dollars. Twenty years after that my Grandmother insisted that I go house hunting with her in the neighborhood, but we could find nothing under a million dollars that wouldn’t require a couple of hundred thousand dollars to renovate.

        When we were kids my Grandfather would not allow us into the neighborhood just a couple of blocks north of us, you could buy a house there for ten grand, now Elton John has a place there as a guest house.

        It is kind of sad that, since my G’mother died, the only rationale I would have for going home would be to cut someone else’s grass.

        1. Wukchumni

          I remember being a little kid and there would be block parties with 50-100 children & adults-every family having 4.6 offspring, so it was a natural.

          My mom gave me her checkbook register from mid 1961 to mid 1962 some years back, and there was about a dozen checks to Dr. Evers-our family physician for $6 or $7, with one whopper for $14 (must’ve been a heart replacement?) and the total outlay for a year was $88. I asked my mom if we had health insurance and she related that aside from Kaiser, it pretty much didn’t exist.

          The monthly mortgage payment was $133…

          My coming out party was $190, and I understand now that a delivery is closer to $10k, nearly as big of a gainer as that crackerjack box of a house, ha!

          1. Keith

            Discouraging debt is a good thing. People’s biggest problems is they carry too much debt, forcing them to stay are jobs they do not like and pushing them further and further behind. A deflationary environment to bring prices to a reasonable level would be a good thing. Of course, the current system would need to crash.

      2. wilroncanada

        The first home we owned in suburban Vancouver (the nearest suburb on the same side of the Fraser River) was 600 sq ft plus a small porch on the back on which sat our apartment washer. We moved to a larger house in Victoria immediately after we became 4 (or 3 and 1 to carry). The woman across the street told us about being brought up in that same house, her and her 6 brothers and sisters.

  12. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Why Are Republicans Still This Loyal to a Mar-a-Lago Exile?

    Hmmm, maybe it’s because he takes an active dislike to condescending, supercilious, PMC NYT reporter types?

    My favorite was when he breathlessly quotes his own paper:

    Mr. Trump didn’t commit murder; instead, urged on by their beloved leader, a mob of hundreds of Trump loyalists “stormed and occupied the Capitol, disrupting the final electoral count in a shocking display of violence that shook the core of American democracy,” in the words of The Times.

    Perhaps democracy should try some planking, I hear that helps.

    1. WJ

      The actual cause of death of the Capitol policeman is also unknown; apparently the “officials” who leaked his cause of death initially were wrong. I had been asking about this for weeks and there had been no follow up from the national media, which raised my suspicions about the whole incident. Now the NYT just retracts the story without any explanation.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        I have been asking since the day his death was reported if there was any corroborating evidence other then the say-so of two anonymous police officers. I have been pooh-poohed online and by actual friends asking why it even matters. Rather taken aback that so many don’t seem to think our government needs to provide actual evidence and are willing to go with the official narrative even if it means it will be used as an excuse to take away even more of our dwindling civil rights.

        1. rowlf

          I’ll keep an eye out for you at the re-education camp I get sent to. I am hoping the Chekists send me early while the weather is warm.

          1. ambrit

            Don’t you mean the “Fact Chekists?”
            For fun, the Cubans should rename the big bay on the south eastern shore of their isle where we have a ‘rendition’ site, “Gulag Bay.”

      2. Carolinian

        That’s amazing. Our newspaper of record can’t even get the basic facts straight re the “new 9/11.” Here’s what they now say in updated story

        Law enforcement officials initially said Mr. Sicknick was struck with a fire extinguisher, but weeks later, police sources and investigators were at odds over whether he was hit. Medical experts have said he did not die of blunt force trauma, according to one law enforcement official.

        “He returned to his division office and collapsed,” the Capitol Police said in the statement. “He was taken to a local hospital, where he succumbed to his injuries.”

        Was there an autopsy? Why the big mystery? Oh wait we all know why–narrative is all for our new fiction dept near Times Square.

        Perhaps the real question is whether, with Trump finally gone, the country’s news media will have to return to reporting boring facts instead of yellow journalistic fiction.

        1. Fraibert

          Isn’t the New York Times all about “the narrative” anyways? It isn’t like it’s a secret:

          I’m actually curious how the Times will survive with its dwindling subscription numbers. I wonder if the Ochs-Sulzberger family trust (the overwhelming majority shareholder) can sustain the Times indefinitely, especially since the trust’s ultimate purpose presumably is to benefit the beneficiaries and not continue ownership of a depreciating asset. (One could write a trust in that fashion, but usually it isn’t called a “family trust” then.)

          1. Carolinian

            As a recent link on this page showed, the Times has been saved–for now–by digital subscriptions and a devotion to Trump coverage that attracts the same. I do think Caitlin Johnstone is a bit off by not admitting that the news has always been about narrative–it’s not just now. But there was a time when the respectable newspapers viewed factual errors as an embarrassment to be avoided. Guess they;ve taken up the Wall Street mantra (“I’ll be gone; you’ll be gone”) with respect to their business.

            1. Fraibert

              Probably goes along with a plan to extract as much money as possible while the game of musical chairs struggles to its finish.

              I guess what strikes me about the Times (and, really, all the rest of the newspapers, including the Washington Post) is they’re all stuck in a revenue-quality down spiral. (I’m not sure if there’s a correct term for that.) I mean that the revenues have fallen for various reasons (the big one being loss of classifieds, I know) and the resulting cuts further reduce quality, which in turn further reduces revenue, etc.

              The New York Times and Washington Post of my childhood were, even ignoring the classified sections, substantial papers with meaty news sections. Now the same sections are a mockery of that time, and I know that all the bureaus have been downsized to the bone.

              In any case, it strikes me that the downward spiral means that with each passing year the newspaper product becomes less valuable, thereby reducing the value of the operating business entity. If that’s right, this also implies, from a purely business point of view, that it’d be better to exit now, rather than later, unless there’s a durable plan to counter the decline with, for example, investment in better quality in order to boost future revenue (not that I’m betting on that). Temporary boosts from ranting about Trump won’t be enough.

    2. pasha

      i’m not sure i get the gists of what you are saying. there is certainly no doubt that many capitol and metro police — in excess of a hundred — were injured, many required hospitalization, at least one is blinded, and there were three associated police deaths. it almost sounds as if you are defending the riot and ignoring its implications.

      or are you merely taking a shot at nyt reporting? that is always fair and legit
      (tho true fairness would compare and contrast it to fox reporting, which was relatively nonexistent)

      1. WJ

        I was not aware that there were “three associated police deaths.” Can you provide a link? Not being snarky. (To the best of my knowledge, one person was shot at the capitol, a few others died from heart attacks, etc. due to the stress of the event, and one officer died from unknown causes shortly after the riot.)

  13. cocomaan

    Historic Arctic outbreak brings dangerous cold, snow and ice to central and southern U.S. WaPo

    The hysteria over the weather gets irritating. I remember everyone saying that the Northeast, where I am, was going to get hit by the POLAR VORTEX in February. Has it been cold? Yes. Snowy? Yes. Is it historic? I guess so, but this feels more like Money Ball (analogy I’ve used here before), where you pick and choose your metrics and get to say that mundane events are historic.

    “This is the first February ever recorded where it snowed on the 13th AND the 6th!”

    You know what’s historic ice and snow? A lot of the North American continent being covered by an ice sheet a mile thick.

    1. Wukchumni

      There was much hoopla over our 5 year drought from 2012 to 2016, with the usual news suspects calling it the longest drought in thousands of years, kinda forgetting the 240 & 180 year long droughts in California from 850 to 1090 and 1140 to 1320.

      1. cocomaan

        That was before white folks showed up on the continent so it doesn’t count. We’re talking “historic” here!

      2. a different chris

        The California thing is weird, though. Definition of drought is “a prolonged period of abnormally low rainfall, leading to a shortage of water.”

        So maybe they have a point.

        1) First half of the definition: the 240 and 180 year droughts are arguably not abnormally low and just what you would damn expect given where the state is sited. And are thus mislabeled. I know you are for sure more cognizant than Easterner me of papers that claim that especially the recent century of California weather is the wet outlier.

        2) Second half of the definition: There was probably no shortage of water as the population was much smaller and I would claim demonstrably smarter about the whole thing.

    2. nippersdad

      I don’t know if this is an actual metric or not, but it must be awfully cold elsewhere. I have never seen so many birds in our yard since we moved here thirty years ago. There are hundreds of them, and at least a dozen different species. What is worrisome, though, is that they are all singing like mating season has begun just as our weather traditionally gets the worst.

      From my perspective, anyway, this is just downright weird.

      1. furies

        Saw a bald eagle pair mate yesterday here…they do it while roosting, not in the air. After the act, the male scrounged around for small twigs and flew off to make this year’s nest.

        Cool beans.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      i get that…and i admit to laughing at new yorkers(or whomever) whining about a mere 90 degree day.
      it’s what you’re used to…and set up for, infrastructure-wise.
      we don’t have snowplows here, in west central texas…nor spreaders…we have dump trucks that they put an attachment on the back of that spreads the sand and salt mixture.
      no chained or studded tires…few garages(i’ve been sending boys out every 6 or so hours to start and run the vehicles for a while)…and the waterpipes are buried 2 foot at best…most of my far flung waterlines are one foot deep(hard ground, hand dug).
      (so the water to everywhere but mom’s house has been off since thursday morning. we’re carrying buckets for critters)
      my roofs all have maybe a 13 degree pitch…not adequate for snow weight at all(eyeing the greenhouse roof warily)…but perfect for channeling the west wind up and over.

      we’re lacking in these areas because we never get this kind of weather…so why prepare for it.
      i built my house to deal with heat when there’s no electricity…and it works well for this.
      normal winters, we just endure….a few 19 degree mornings…maybe some ice, here and there…and then back into the 60’s, 70’s and above.
      (it was warm enough last tuesday for me to run around naked on the mountain out back.)

      so i won’t poke fun at all y’all in the north when it gets to be swimming weather,and you discover that while you never needed an A/C before, having one might be nice when it breaches 90.(hint: cowboy pool in the shade. galvanized water trough…big enough for two(if they’re friendly)= about $200. lasts for decades if maintained well(and you can build a fire under it for a hot tub…or scalding hogs))

      1. AndrewJ

        Second the cowboy pool recommendation. Having one makes the hot days something to look forward to! Though putting it in the shade here in Portland ensured the water was quite cold when the first hot days hit in June. Next time I’ll look to site it somewhere with a little morning sun.

  14. Stephen C.

    “Poor” Bill Gates. He not old enough yet and just can’t quite match his friend Warren B’s paternal grandpa act.

    Gates says he would rather invest in innovation and prefer not to get into politics. But in the interview with him in the MIT article has him saying that the rich countries should be persuaded to eat synthetic beef.

    “. . .you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand”)

    Yet in Africa he wants to breed better cattle that will give them more protein per burp.

    “For Africa and other poor countries, we’ll have to use animal genetics to dramatically raise the amount of beef per emissions for them. Weirdly, the US livestock, because they’re so productive, the emissions per pound of beef are dramatically less than emissions per pound in Africa. And as part of the [Bill and Melinda Gates] Foundation’s work, we’re taking the benefit of the African livestock, which means they can survive in heat, and crossing in the monstrous productivity both on the meat side and the milk side of the elite US beef lines.”

    That’s going to be a hard sell! We have to eat soy and lab meat the poors around the world are helped to eat the good ol’ fashioned real thing.

    Like any good oligarch, he knows that government needs to pick the winners. How innovative is it when you have to “sort of change people” and use “regulation” to have your investments pan out?

    1. cocomaan

      Why would we listen to anything that this guy says? His operating systems barely worked when the company dominated the market, and today they’re a secondary player.

      He expects me to believe all his amazing plans won’t be filled with bugs, awful updates, and bad customer service?

      1. a different chris

        >Why would we listen to

        I know you know this but I need to fume about it anyway: He isn’t talking to us. He doesn’t need us to listen to him. *We* are not getting invited to TED talks, not even to be in the audience. We are not in “better government” seminars, or asked to help write “the Future of (whatever)” papers.

        All we can do is watch.

    2. William Hunter Duncan

      Being the largest owner of agricultural land in America, of course he deserves to tell us how to eat. Never mind we have known as long as we have done agriculture, agriculture isn’t really effective and depletes the soil if you don’t involve animals and their waste in the process.

      But you see, Gates and Musk and Trump et al are special genuises, something like the old demigods but not quite, but special enough that not even Science matters in the estimation and employment of their ideas. Their pronouncements are Greater than Science, as they are the divine like embodient of that greatest good that is the becoming of a billionaire, of which there is nothing more Materialist than that.

    3. Eclair

      I’m going to join the Gates pile-on, at the risk of sounding like a hopelessly revanchist dinosaur, tossing my clunky sabots into the innovative machinery that will solve the climate crisis.

      “The idea that there are all these places where there’s plenty of good soil and plenty of good water and just accidentally, the trees didn’t grow there—and if you plant a tree there, it’s going to be there for thousands of years—[is wrong].

      The lack of validity for most of that tree planting is one of those things where this movement is not an honest movement yet. It doesn’t know how to measure truth yet. There are all sorts of hokey things that allow people to use their PR budgets to buy virtue but aren’t really having the impact. And we’ll get smarter over time about what is a real offset.

      So no, most of those offset things don’t stand up. The offset thing that we think will stand up is if you gather money from companies and consumers to bootstrap the market for clean steel and clean cement. Because of the learning-curve benefits there, putting your money into that, instead of on tree planting, is catalytic in nature and will make a contribution. We need some mix of government, company, and individual money to drive those markets.” This article is calling out for some Onion headlines.

      So, forget about planting trees, those lovely carbon dioxide gulping machines which evolved over millions of years; pour money into ‘clean’ steel and cement producing facilities.

      “So no, I don’t think the poorest 80 countries will be eating synthetic meat. I do think all rich countries should move to 100% synthetic beef. You can get used to the taste difference, and the claim is they’re going to make it taste even better over time. Eventually, that green premium is modest enough that you can sort of change the [behavior of] people or use regulation to totally shift the demand.”

      So, we can build gigantic synthetic beef producing plants from ‘clean’ steel and cement. And, one really can get used to the taste, if one pours on enough sriracha sauce. Of course the Chinese were making bean curd 2,000 years ago, to provide a dense protein source.

      And, Bill Gates’ carbon offsets (” [To offset] my own emissions, I’ve bought clean aviation fuel.” For his private jets?) dwarf my pathetic attempts to ‘reduce, reuse, recycle, grow and buy organic and seasonal.’

      To summarize: We humans inhabit what was a finely-tuned, exquisitely balanced eco-system, developed over millennia. We’ve trashed it in a few hundred years, with our insane desires to dominate, to turn natural resources into cash, to worship technological solutions, to trample the vulnerable, all in our rush to pump up annual GDP and keep the stock market at record highs.


    4. The Rev Kev

      Ahem. Speaking of Bill Gates. I just saw the following article called ” Kids YouTube channel warns world would suffer if Bill Gates ‘disappeared’ in BIZARRE VIDEO praising ‘respected billionaire’ ” with a really weird video that also poses questions like what if Apple disappeared, Microsoft disappeared, Amazon disappeared, etc.

  15. zagonostra

    >Ecuador Elections – Grayzone

    And some wonder why the U.S. Presidential election would garner suspicion among die-hard Trumpsters.

    Given the history of the CIA propping up corrupt dictators who can be won over to big business interest over socialist candidates lookin to expand social programs, the sacred vote becomes nothing buy a rhetorical tool in the U.S.’s foreign policy decisions making process.

    A popular socialist candidate, Andrés Arauz, won the first round of Ecuador’s historic presidential election by a landslide on February 7. The leftist’s overwhelming victory prompted the US State Department, the right-wing government of neighboring Colombia, and the Organization of American States (OAS) to mobilize to prevent him from entering office…Just two weeks before the election, Moreno traveled to Washington, DC to meet with top officials from the US government, as well as the coup-sponsoring general secretary of the OAS, Luis Almagro.

    1. R

      Convalescent plasma is implicated in the genesis of the variants in the first place! Two patients (one Boston, one Cambridge UK) with immune compromise were observed to generate multiple mutations because of chronic multi-month coronavirus infection, exacerbated in the US case (possibly also the UK) by the use of plasma. The virus had generated a great spectrum of variants in the chronic patients and the plasma knocked down some and left the winners standing, like antibiotic over-prescription selects for resistance. The strains that escaped the plasma are ergo strains that escape the vaccine to the classic strain, for this was the infection that originated the plasma.

  16. flora

    re: Bill Gates: Rich nations should shift entirely to synthetic beef – MIT Technology Review

    Talking his book, of course. Less ‘save the world’, and more ‘boost my wealth’. /heh

    From Forbes:

    The World’s Brightest Tech Founders Are Betting Big On Synthetic Biology

    Microsoft (MSFT MSFT +0.2%) founder Bill Gates, who was an early investor in Beyond Meat, is pouring money into synthetic biology. He helped fund Ginkgo Bioworks, which is developing custom-built microbes, as well as Pivot Bio, a sustainable agriculture company.

    … Eric Schmidt—a co-founder of Google GOOGL +0.3% (GOOG)—has invested in several synthetic biology companies through early-stage venture capital firm Innovation Endeavors…..

    Peter Thiel is investing heavily in synthetic biology….Thiel is invested along with Schmidt in Bolt Threads, and is also backing Synthego and Emerald Cloud Lab.

    Marc Andreessen is another high-profile investor in synthetic biology. ….

    Other high-profile investors in synthetic biology include Vinod Khosla (Sun Microsystems), Jerry Yang (Yahoo!), Bryan Johnson (Venmo), and Max Levchin (PayPal).
    Serious Money Is Pouring Into Synthetic Biology Companies


    1. William Hunter Duncan

      Any bets on when the first Covid/Soylent Green conspiracy theory surfaces? The very existence of these misanthrope haters of all people less-than betting billions on what we are expected to eat would seem to elicit such?

    2. Fraibert

      My response to these tech billionaires: eat your own dog food.*

      I suspect instead they plan on enjoying all the genuine angus, kobe, etc. beef and leaving the proles with the synthetic stuff.

      *”Eat your own dog food” is a classic tech phrase, meaning that the company producing a product must also use that product internally. Ironically, given all the issues, Microsoft historically did this–don’t know if they do now.

      1. flora

        Yep. From Ilargi at Automatic Earth:

        Heal the Planet for Profit – Redux

        “Right now, you don’t see the pain you’re causing as you emit carbon dioxide,” is how Mr Gates puts it. That’s why he says governments have to intervene. “We need to have price signals to tell the private sector that we want green products,” he says. That is going to require a huge investment by governments in research and development, Mr Gates argues, as well as support to allow the market for new products and technologies to grow, thereby helping drive down prices.
        This is precisely what I was warning about in December 2016, when the protagonists were Mark Carney and Michael Bloomberg, who wrote “How To Make A Profit From Defeating Climate Change”. If you are serious about saving your planet, you’re not going to listen to the ideas of billionaires and central bankers. Because they are the people behind the original problem, and the only tools they know of are the ones who created that problem.

  17. flora

    For the India section:

    India finally bans cryptocurrencies, gives investors six months to liquidate their assets

    …Citing an unnamed senior finance ministry official, BloombergQuint disclosed the government’s move. However, according to the official, the ban would not be imposed overnight, as in the case of Nigeria. Instead, investors would be given three to six months to liquidate their investments.

    As per the report, India’s Parliament will proceed to introduce a law that bans the usage of cryptocurrencies in all forms, including restricting trading via foreign exchanges….

    Crypto isn’t the same as digital but it’s similar. This is an interesting step to take , imo, after India’s failed ‘digital currency’ experiment.

    1. Wukchumni

      I wonder how much the Indian national preoccupation with all that glitters shaped their thinking on banning cryptocurrencies?

    2. Milton

      Too late. I already sold my 13.147 btc when it hit $1000 in early 2017. I’ve been bitter ever since.

    3. km

      IIRC, India has currency control laws.

      I wonder how Ukraine, which has a rather strict (and often evaded) currency regime, treats crypto.

  18. DJG, Reality Czar

    The article from DeutscheWelle makes it seem as if the Catalan socialists won enough to change course. They didn’t. According to this morning’s edition of Avui, a Catalan paper in Barcelona, the socialists have 33 seats, the ERC 33, and Junts 32. ERC and Junts both lean toward independence. This is in a parliament of 135 seats. Also, the map at Avui indicates that the socialists dominate in the Barcelona area, ERC in the south and west, and Junts in the great Catalan north. A map showing a majority claiming Catalan asmother tongue would coincide with the ERC / Junts vote.

    So: No problem has been resolved by this vote. The socialists, oddly, seem to have benefited from the collapse of the center-right Ciutadans party, as did the right-wing Vox.

    Rearrangement. The next move in this chess game is up to Madrid.

    Some headlines from Avui. If you can read French or Italian, you’ll get them, noting the second, that Illa may have led the socialists to victory but may not be able to form a government.

    Rècord del sobiranisme
    ERC, Junts i la CUP sumen un màxim històric de 74 escons i l’independentisme supera per primer cop el 50% dels vots

    Illa és el més votat però té difícil fer govern

    Vox entra però Cs s’enfonsa i perd 30 diputats

  19. a fax machine

    re: The People the Suburbs Were Built for Are Gone

    It’s more than that. The way of life that suburbanism demands no longer exists. It’s shutdown due to covid, the schools that comprise the bulk of the equity in these places are not operating. For a “traditional” young family buying a new home there is no point in buying into neighborhoods that lack schools – however, this doesn’t apply to rich yuppies looking to upgrade from a condo. Those that can’t afford it (most) will be stuck as the renter class, totally dependent on the good graces of their corporate landlords. Same for the work – unskilled manufacturing jobs no longer exist meanwhile office work is being rapidly outsourced. There’s suddenly an employment demand deficit that can no longer sustain a majority of adults buying homes.

    The dividends the GI Generation made have been completely exhausted, and what comes next can only be struggle. Students are already there, having to face reality without an education (or at least, an education that is objectively worse than their parents). The lack of K12 education continuity breaks the larger continuity society requires to function normally, this is the decoupling from the previous era to the next era.

    This will become more obvious as we proceed through Biden’s term. If he fails to address the massive social inequities occurring, we’ll have something worse than Trump follow him. It can only get worse as the ranks of the poor and desperate grow. Only Trumpian style politicians offer answers when the stock liberal system refuses.

    I think we’re going to see a Labor Spring in this decade as a result. As Democrats show their inability to manage difficult problems people will be forced to work together without the government. Only then will the government be forced to address problems or have someone else step on them.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe I echo your sentiments about decline of the suburbs. I am not sure what to mourn about the decay of post war housing tracts built to embody the vision of Le Corbusier’s “The Radiant City” (1935):
      “The cities will be part of the country. I shall live 30 miles from my office in one direction, under a pine tree; my secretary will live 30 miles away from it too, in the other direction, under another pine tree. We shall both have our own car. We shall use up tires, wear out road surfaces and gears, consume oil and gasoline. All of which will necessitate a great deal of work … enough for all.” – Swiss architect Le Corbusier from The Radiant City (1935). The “country” was realized in the suburbs as monotonous green lawns with scattered trees, and ticky-tacky houses all the same, all in a row. The jobs moved further away, some crossed the oceans. We consumed plenty of oil and gasoline. The school systems that I too believe were the real draw of the suburbs have been subjected to the same relentless attacks by Neoliberalism that ruined and privatized so much else of the dubious inheritance from the Post War era.

      I thought the discussion in this link was remarkably shallow and pollyanna. The images of the Bell Labs Holmdel re-purposed as a flea market gripped at me. As I recall Bell Labs Holmdel was one of the many Lucent facilities that wrapped itself in the famous Bell Labs name. My understanding was that the ‘real’ Bell Labs was and I hope still is[?] located at Murray Hill. Be that as it may, the Holmdel facility was a shinning jewel among the Lucent-Bell Labs facilities. The technical library alone which it once held should be mourned as a great loss, along with numerous technical libraries in other Lucent-Bell Labs locations. [I noticed both photographs used in the link were taken in 2018. How do things look in 2021?] The images of Lucent-Bell Labs Holmdel conjured a memory of the lines from Gibbon’s “Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” that Jack McDevitt used to end his short-story “Cryptic”. I could not locate the lines about pot herbs and goats in the Roman Collesium, but I found a few lines from the last pages of Gibbon:
      “…the fairest columns of the Ionic and Corinthian orders, the richest
      marbles of Paros and Numidia, were degraded, perhaps to the support of a convent or stable.”
      “A fragment, a ruin, howsoever mangled or profaned, may be viewed with pleasure and regret but the greater part of the marble was deprived of substance as well as of place and proportion. Since it was burnt to lime for the purpose of cement.”
      That’s how I regard the link’s happy retrofitting and repurposing — though few if any of our ruins rival those of Rome.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Great comments here, Fax and Jeremy, many thanks. A lot to ponder, and some new ideas I hadn’t focused on before.

      Here’s Kuntsler on this topic:

      The character of what a city is, and how it works, differs greatly depending on time, place, and circumstance.

      The wish to reform and perfect the city became especially acute with the take-off of industry around 1800 when the cities of Europe surpassed the scale previously achieved by ancient Rome, with an overlay of obnoxious new activities. Earliest New York and Boston just self-organized around topography and waterfront, while Penn’s Philadelphia and Oglethorpe’s Savannah were highly rationalized schemes of geometric blocks and green squares.

      The Northwest Ordinance divvied up new lands west of the Appalachian Mountains into a colossal grid of one-mile-square sections and sub-sections for ease of real estate transactions.

      Frederick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux were hired to design a 1000-acre remnant of the once rugged, now monotonously gridded, Manhattan landscape into Central Park, and their methods soon became the sovereign remedy for urban hypertrophy around the country. Railroads, tenement slums, and relentless industrial growth made city life increasingly unpleasant.

      The City Beautiful movement of the 1890s was a last-ditch effort to remedy all that with monumental Greco-Roman grandeur and signal improvements in sanitation, electric service, and heating. The movement produced the greatest public buildings in our history, but it was no accident that it coincided with an exodus into new suburbs enabled by electric streetcar lines.

      We forget how brief the streetcar era actually was. By the end of the First World War, mass-produced automobiles were cluttering up city streets and prompting a newer mode of car-centric suburban development that is the dominant living arrangement in America to this day.

      Suburbia has resulted in a way of life that maximizes social alienation and loneliness, destroys the component of public space and the shared public life that used to dwell in it, drains government coffers with its monstrous infrastructure costs, and converts the once glorious American landscape into a horror show of highway corridors filled with objects devoid of artistry. Suburban sprawl just marched on through the end of the 20th century, to the new exurbs—farflung asteroid belts of McMansions and strip-malls. It had dire implications: we were investing all our post-war wealth in a living arrangement with no future. And we were stuck with it.

  20. Chauncey Gardiner

    Appreciated the link from Scroll discussing the Feb 7 Uttarakhand flood. It is interesting that this tragic event occurred in winter months, unlike the seasonal monsoons that led to the massive flooding of June 2013 and 6,000 deaths. Not to minimize the issues noted in the discussion and excellent graphic embedded in the article, but there are theories about the cause of the current disaster besides that of climate change that have reportedly been voiced by villagers in the area:

    Besides water and the downstream effects, this is a beautiful and key biodiverse area of the world. It is also noteworthy that Nanda Devi peak is held as sacred and the spiritual personification of a Hindu deity by some. Historical background in this article:

    1. juno mas

      Rivers going over bank is normal. Not likely that a single radioactive source could induce river flooding. Anomalous air temps and rain-on-snow events cause winter flooding.

      Since the banks of a river are created by the 2 year average river flow, and induces people to encroach into the natural flood control mechanism of rivers, the floodplain, it is not unusual that people die in 100 year river flow event when water reclaims the now obstructed floodplain

  21. chris

    Not sure if there’s room in links for more than one viral outbreak but it appears we have another spreading ebola problem in West Africa.

    We have some options already in place and we’re trying to ring fence this one with vaccines. It pays to remember there’s still more the COVID-19 out there right now :/

    1. Jim

      The impeachment was successful! Any thought of survival checks has been driven out of public consciousness.

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