Links 2/16/2021

391-Year-Old Bonsai Tree Survived Hiroshima Bombings and Keeps Growing My Modern Met (furzy). It is exceptionally handsome.

Pattaya elephants starving, falling ill amid pandemic Pattaya Mail. Furzy is distressed about this.

Who was Hatshepsut? National Geographic (Chuck L)

Scientists Accidentally Discover Strange Creatures Under a Half Mile of Ice Wired (Chuck L)

This hydrogen paste has a similar range to that of gasoline and could revolutionize the transport industry Business Insider (David L)

Corn belt farmland has lost a third of its carbon-rich soil EurekAlert (Chuck L)

Can’t Get You Out of My Head review – Adam Curtis’s ’emotional history’ is dazzling Guardian

Inventing the Non-Smoker London Review of Books (Anthony L)

Skaters urged to stay off Europe’s thawing lakes BBC (resilc)

Cleaning Notre Dame ‘With Light’: Expert Says Lasers Will Help Restore Cathedral To Former Glory WBUR

Voice of Freedom – Marian Anderson PBS (Kevin C)

Heart failure cases soar globally MedicalXpress (Chuck L)

#COVID-19

Unvaccinated citizens’ names should be DISCLOSED, new proposal by Israeli PM suggests amid slowdown in immunization campaign RT (Kevin W). I suspect the Ultra Orthodox would wear it as a badge of honor.

Science/Medicine

New Covid variant with potentially worrying mutations found in UK Guardian (resilc)

Antibody-Dependent Enhancement and the Coronavirus Vaccines Science Magazine (UserFriendly)

Why the three biggest vaccine makers failed on Covid-19 Financial Times

WHO investigator claims China refused to hand over key Covid information Guardian (resilc). Summary data only. Just like Big Pharma with its vaccine clinical trials.

US

Florida Is a COVID Nightmare—Even for Vaccinated People Daily Beast

Defiant DeSantis blasts Biden administration amid report of travel limits Politico. I missed this spat. Not resolved: White House looks at domestic travel restrictions as COVID mutation surges in Florida Miami Herald

STAT-Harris Poll: 1 in 4 Americans were unable to get a Covid-19 test when they wanted one STAT. For me, would have been a no go for one out of two except I groveled and the urgent care center freed up one of their tests reserved for the next day.

She’s 90, and walked 6 miles through the snow for her COVID-19 vaccine Seattle Times (furzy)

Grape-Nuts Expected to Be Back on Store Shelves Next Month New York Times (David L)

Finance/Economy

How billions in pandemic aid was swindled by con artists and crime syndicates NBC

Airline industry alarm as vaccine-led recovery hopes take a dive Financial Times

COVID-19 and Pre-Pandemic Financial Distress St. Louis Fed (UserFriendly)

Biden announces extension of Covid mortgage program Guardian. Breaking story but I am turning in.

China?

The China model has come to America Asia Times (Robert M)

China targets rare earth export curbs to hobble US defence industry Financial Times

My warning to President Biden: Protect America from a rising China The Hill (resilc)

Why Joe Biden must resist Donald Trump’s tactic of using China as a bogeyman South China Morning Post:

China dethroned the US as Europe’s top trade partner in 2020 Quartz

India

Arithmetic is the biggest enemy of farmers Yogesh Upadhyaya

Pakistan ends death penalty for prisoners with severe mental health problems Guardian

Brexit

Brexit: road-kill Richard North (Colonel Smithers)

Downing Street refuses to publish Brexit deal impact assessment New European

Génocide des Tutsis : le document qui accable les autorités françaises Euronews. P J-K: “Explosive document from archive about French role in Rwanda genocide. English Google translation.

Interview with Wolfgang Streeck: “I definitely prefer a cooperative over an empire” LeftEast (Anthony L)

New Cold War

Great Reset? Putin Says, “Not So Fast” Gold Goats ‘n’ Guns (Chuck L). Not wild about the source but you have to look hard to read anything about the Putin speech at the WEF.

Germany aims for new deal with Washington on Nord Stream 2 Financial Times

Imperial Collapse Watch

Why America Won’t Be ‘Great’ Again Blair Fix (Dr. Kevin). From last year, still germane.

Texas power outages: How the largest energy-producing state in the US failed in freezing temperatures WFAA (Kevin W)

Texas’ power grid crumples under the cold ars technica (resilc)

Blackouts Hit 13 States Beyond Texas in Deepening Power Crisis Bloomberg

Impeachment

The Reality Behind Donald Trump’s Second Acquittal Heisenberger Report (resilc)

Trump acquittal: Biden urges vigilance to defend ‘fragile’ democracy after impeachment trial Guardian

Pelosi Vows to Move Forward With Independent Inquiry Into Capitol Riot – New York Times. Kevin W: ” Rule one in politics – never hold an inquest unless you know exactly what they are going to find.” Related link: Why was Capitol police chief’s request for National Guard denied ahead of riot? Republicans ask Nancy Pelosi RT

Trump Transition

Opinion: Trump may be done, but Trumpism is the GOP’s future Washington Post (Kevin W)

NYT: House Republican shunned by family members over Trump criticism CNN (resilc)

Biden

The agency founded because of 9/11 is shifting to face the threat of domestic terrorism MSN (Kevin W)

‘We the People’ gone and no one noticed: Biden removes Obama-era petition tool to thunderous media silence RT (Kevin W)

The war on voting Popular Information

How The Iowa Caucus Results Fell Apart Buzzfeed (UserFriendly). Odd this is appearing now.

Cancel Culture, Where Liberalism Goes to Die Chris Hedges (RR)

Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech’s Ad Revenue Gizmodo (BC)

Daimler recalls 1.29 million U.S. vehicles for software issue Reuters

Fake Amazon reviews ‘being sold in bulk’ online BBC (Kevin W)

Still Alive Astral Codex Ten (UserFriendly)

Class Warfare

Labor reporter Mike Elk’s dog Mickey died:

He was a beloved service dog, who volunteered regularly to work with the disabled and elderly. In addition, he was a near a constant presence on UE picket lines.

Bill Greider had vivid fantasy when he was dying that he went to a union BBQ & I like to think that Mickey is the big union BBQ w/ Bill, Anne Feeney & the old UE guys.

Mike is taking a few days off to recover so please consider making a donation. Even a small one helps.

The poverty of the middle-class: lack of savoir-faire Note on Liberty (Brandon C). Important.

Uber Proposes California-style Gig Work Reforms in Europe CNBC

Gender gap: Women represent two-thirds of doctorates, only one-third of academic jobs EurekAlert (Chuck L)

Billionaires See VR as a Way to Avoid Radical Social Change Wired (resilc)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “2012, when our E. B. White was a child.”

And a bonus (guurst):

Another from guurst:

See yesterdays Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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196 comments

  1. vlade

    The hydrogen paste – it sounds really cool, but unfortunately, the blow comes in the last sentence. The annual production of a new plant they are building will be 4 tonnes/year. US alone consumes > 3000litres (which is ~3t) of gas. Per person. So the output of the factory would suffice for one person in the US.

    Yes, they will be able to scale. But the scale they need is hundreds of millions times more, more likely more than billion times more. I hope to be wrong, but I just can’t see how they could scale so much even in a decade or two.

    (and I couldn’t find what is the energy you need to create the paste compared to gas/oil (can’t rememeber what the measure is called, sort of how much of the final product you need to produce one unit of it).

    Reply
    1. Polar Socialist

      Energy Return Of Investment?

      Anyhoo, this could easily scale by releasing any and all patents. And a somewhat standardized process for extracting the hydrogen from pastes of differing quality and composition, too.

      Reply
      1. bojackhorsemeat

        Treat it like an actual crisis, like COVID vaccines – guarantee purchasing of patents for all possibly viable technologies and make them free to produce.

        Reply
    2. Mikerw0

      The issue likely isn’t the limited capacity of the test plant, it will be how much energy is required to produce it and where does that energy come from. At least two sources of energy will be required. Most likely electricity for producing hydrogen and a heat source.

      So before declaring this “green” we need to now way more.

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        If the hydrogen is produced by electrolysis of water, what is the overall efficiency?

        Overall efficiency would be a an interesting number – From hydrogen source to Kinetic energy.

        The paste looked wet. Is the carrying fluid water or something else? (Water has to be boiled off which is a loss of energy delivered.)

        Is there some solid waste from the “burning”? If so what are the disposal risks?

        Reply
      2. vlade

        There are multiple projects on producing hydrogen fairly cheaply from sunlight + water, and if nothing else, even current solar cells can produce hydrogen directly, albeit with a relatively low efficiency (around high teens) *)

        But scaling a factory to produce tens of thousands a tons (and that would still require thousands of the factories built) instead of four is a massive operational task, that takes a loong time. My point here is that this is basically still a lab technology, which will take at an absolute best a decade, more likely two, to scale so that it can reasonably start replacing fossil fuels. We may not have two decades.

        Yes, we ultimately need these technologies. But rebuilding our world with them is not an overnight task (and the CV vaccine development is not a comparison, it doesn’t require us to ditch large part of capital investments we made, even with the RE ).

        *) majority of hydrogen currently is produced from fossil fuels. Which means “hydrogen” doesn’t save anything unless you change the production of it, but that’s an entirely separate issue.

        Reply
      3. Grateful Dude

        hydrogen is considered an energy storage medium, not a source (amirite?).

        Where and how do we get elemental H? Oil refineries? Crack H2O on sea platforms with tidal and/or wave pumps and generators? Sure, why not. Enough to notice on the energy markets?

        But a way to capture H where there are wind, solar, or other non-carbon sources (not just renewable FG’sSake) might make a significant contribution to energy storage. It is, however, very explosive stuff. Fuel cells?

        Batteries seem like a better approach.

        Reply
      4. Grateful Dude

        hydrogen is considered an energy storage medium, not a source (amirite?).

        We could crack H2O on sea platforms with tidal and/or wave pumps and generators? Sure, why not. Enough to notice on the energy markets?

        But a way to capture H where there are wind, solar, or other non-carbon sources (not just renewable FG’sSake) might make a significant contribution to energy storage. It is, however, very explosive stuff. Fuel cells?

        Batteries seem like a better approach.

        Reply
  2. zagonostra

    >My warning to President Biden: Protect America from a rising China – The Hill

    Amid deceiving rhetoric coming out of the communist circles in Beijing, China is employing a wide range of economic tactics to diminish American leadership abroad, disrupt the liberal free market in the world economy, and recreate a world order that depends on China for it to move forward

    And what, I’m supposed to be alarmed? Where has that “American leadership abroad” brought us to thus far? “Liberal free market?” What has that done for my ability to purchase affordable healthcare insurance? “Recreate a world order?” What order would that be, pray tell? The kind where we impose a country’s leaders in opposition to the will of the people, like they are doing in Ecuador right now this very moment? Or, the kind of exemplary order that we witnessed in the “stop the steal” D.C. Capitol riot?

    No, my warning to JB and the establishment that brought him to power if I had a voice would be to get the damn $2K checks out to the people, now instead of playing video games. Take care of your citizens’ needs and let other countries like China do the same.

    Reply
    1. John A

      I think JB looks very smart in his Camp David cap and aviator leather jacket. Just the outfit to exclaim ‘mission accomplished’ over the $2000 or 1400 or $0 payments that have still not happened.

      Reply
    2. Skip Intro

      I can’t believe I thought Biden would play violin, when his Nero cameo came up. Of course it is video games. How utterly apropos.

      “No matter how cynical I get, I just can’t keep up” – Lily Tomlin

      Reply
      1. Old Sarum

        The Lily Tomlin quote is a keeper.

        The more you learn, the more you know that there is much more to learn.

        Pip-Pip!

        Reply
  3. Terry Flynn

    Though Chris Hedges frequently depresses me this is another great article. Anecdotally, I have seen how identity politics has led to mayhem and exit of key individuals (who could help change things by using the lens of class based politics) from YouTube channels on things like genre fiction (sci fi etc).

    I quit moderating a channel when I saw things heading south. The fellow moderator who kept in touch eventually quit too and exactly at the point I expected – when police action in the USA became an issue. He told me privately about his career – which involved the most difficult and often violent situations. He had seconds to make decisions on using his gun. He was/is a deeply committed man who valued life. He lives in a very Republican area; whilst having no problem with the 2nd amendment he is supremely aware of how politics can make it cause problems.

    I have no doubt I’d get on well with this guy if I met in person. He espouses what law enforcement and social justice should be. But he had no time for identity politics – nor do I (speaking as a gay man). As Hedges points out, class based issues have been forgotten or usurped. Yet they’re more relevant than ever.

    Reply
    1. Carolinian

      Agree that Hedges isn’t always on the mark but as someone who grew up in the mid 20th century South–the world that he is talking about–I think this is a great article. Last night I re-watched the wonderful Elia Kazan movie called Wild River about the coming of the TVA to rural Tennessee. The movie has a bone to pick with the cracker racism of the period but also a deep sympathy with some of the white characters who are themselves part of the general poverty. Kazan, the actors’ director, does much better with them than the northern bureaucrat played by Montgomery Clift. People should understand that this poverty was the root of everything–of the victims as well as the victimizers. It doesn’t excuse all the terrible things that were done but perhaps a return to some of King’s religion inspired ethics would be useful in our fractious age–i.e. hate the sin, love the sinner. True humanism is universal.

      Reply
      1. Donald

        I agree about hating the sin and loving the sinner. Rod Dreher over at TAC has a lot of faults, but he is right when he sees wokism in its extreme forms as a very harsh unforgiving sort of religion. I wouldn’t go as far as Rod, but sometimes he is correct.

        I have to read the Hedges piece.

        Reply
    2. The Historian

      Chris Hedges depresses me too! But I think that is because he cuts through the BS and stories we tell ourselves to justify our behavior. He preaches the same message that Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, and many others have brought to us and he doesn’t sugar coat it. To be told that we are rationalizing when we find reasons to believe what we want to believe is often hard to swallow.

      Reply
  4. Tom Stone

    I’m somewhat surprised that the Dems are putting on such a poor performance.
    Taking the second “Impeachment attempt seriously requires one to believe that Nancy and the gang
    1) Can’t count votes.
    2) Don’t understand how the impeachment process works.
    3) want Trump, the biggest $ generator in decades for “Liberals” to be gone.

    The party of the People now controls both houses of Congress and the Presidency, the Adults in the room are now in charge!
    And they are playing “Mario Kart” with the Grandkiids.
    No worries, those generous $200 ( $2,000 less the $1,800 already recieved) Stimulus checks will be on the way real soon.
    Any day now.
    Almost certainly before April 15….

    Reply
    1. TomDority

      The Republicans are like Lucy place holding the football and, the Democrates are Like Charlie Brown going for the kick…..every time Lucy pulls it away at the last moment.

      Reply
      1. The Historian

        It isn’t just the Republicans. Since the donor class really doesn’t want to give anyone a stimulus (just listen to them talk on CNBC!) , it wouldn’t surprise me if the Democrats are consistently delaying the stimulus until they can say that, really, we don’t need it any more, do we?

        Reply
    2. Pat

      She may not be able to count the votes, but she can count the donations. I couldn’t believe the choices until I added greed to the reasons and came at it from a new POV. This is all about scraping every last possible dollar out of those suffering TDS, especially the wealthy. They can give the maximum to individual resistance politicians, the DNC, the DCCC, and selected PACs.

      It would not surprise me if more than a few long term politicial hands were panicking at the loss of the Trump bonanza that has allowed for massive campaign spending. The consultants and ad costs are unlikely to return from the stratosphere. Where and how are they going to get that money. With a failed impeachment rather than a clean censure and 14th amendment removal from candidacy, Trump remains the boogeymen. And he himself will provide continued material for outrage. The threat remains on the horizon and both sides will rake it in.

      Reply
    3. John Anthony La Pietra

      Now here’s a thought . . . if the new checks were delayed until tax day, would the means tested at least start to be based on COVID-depressed 2020 income, instead of 2019 figures?

      (Not saying that’s a plan or a good idea, but could it “work” out that way?)

      Reply
  5. Terry Flynn

    Re gender gap in academia. Having worked in it for much of my career my opinion is that it now actively selects for sociopathic tendencies when it comes to promotion.

    If these are less common in women than men then it would explain the results detailed in the article. Though I’ve known several women who are just as sociopathic as male bosses of mine when I was in academia so maybe the trait is an equal opportunities type….

    Reply
    1. km

      The Iron Law of Oligarchy and The Iron Law Of Institutions would suggest that any organization will eventually be corrupted by sociopaths, to the point where such organization becomes unreformable, not to mention useless for any purpose other than sociopathy.

      At that point, the only solution is to break the organization up and start afresh, subject to the understanding that the sociopaths eventually will find their way in, and the process must be repeated as a result.

      Reply
      1. Terry Flynn

        Wow. Thought I was cynical! You’re probably correct…. I’ve mused privately about how I’d destroy existing academia and rebuild it…. .Kuhnian principles heavily influence me.

        Reply
    2. Kurt Sperry

      I was watching the Australian Open tennis this week and one of the commentators said that in US collegiate tennis, where the players call their own lines on an honor system, the men cheat often and shamelessly while the women are generally very honest.

      Reply
    3. David

      Well, it’s a gender gap in Canadian archeology, according to the story. The point is that there are limited populations to begin with, and many people with PhD’s don’t, in fact, go into academia (I didn’t and I know quite a lot of others who didn’t as well). So if more male PhDs are going into academia, fewer must be going into other areas (there are other areas you know.)

      Reply
  6. The Rev Kev

    “Great Reset? Putin Says, “Not So Fast””

    From recent developments, it seems that the Russians have had enough of the antics of Europe as well. Foreign Minister Lavrov was saying that Russia is ready to cut off ties with Europe because all that Europe wants to do is use the language of sanctions with Russia. The idiocy of the Navalny episode and the EU’s willingness to believe it all and use it as a basis of yet more sanctions was just too much.

    ‘Lavrov added on Monday that there were actually few areas left in which Russia actively worked with the bloc. He said dealings with the international body “are now sporadic,” and related largely only to negotiations around oil and gas, or pressing foreign policy issues, such as Syria, and Iran’s nuclear program’ which kinda says it all.

    So what does it mean? Probably that Russia will now turn east and form a closer relationship with China and other countries like Iran to go their own way. Years ago Putin had hoped for a closer union with Europe in a economic entity that would stretch from Vladivostok through to Lisbon but those days are finally over. Russia will still deal with individual European countries as they are friends with some of them but as far as the EU is concerned it is over-

    https://www.rt.com/russia/515628-eu-break-relations-moscow-lavrov/

    Reply
    1. urblintz

      Here is a video of Russian journalist Vladimir Pozner speaking at Yale 2 years ago. Pozner was a regular on US MSM for many years, first with Ted Koppel on Nightline and then with Phil Donahue (among others). His opening statement is as clear an explanation of what went wrong after Glasnost as I have heard and in the Q&A he offers a withering criticism of the MSM in BOTH countries. One can understand why he is no longer invited to opine on the now corporate-owned US MSM. He points out that he and Donahue were silenced by Roger Ailes.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8X7Ng75e5gQ

      Reply
      1. chuck roast

        Thanks for that link. Pozner was a revelation post-glasnost. Along with Stephan F. Cohen he was one of the few commentators that has been rational. I always wondered what happened to him.

        Reply
        1. RMO

          Thank you! I have never before heard of him. I looked up books of his and there are a few, all of which I would like to read. Too bad for me the most recent one is only in Russian (of which I only know a handful of words, none of them likely to be useful in sociopolitical reading)

          Reply
    2. vlade

      I’d not bet on Russia and China cooperating closely TBH. There’s way too much of history (and both nations are well known for “never forget, never forgive”), and the whole issue of Siberia.

      They are not natural friends. In a way, it’s to show the dumbness of the US. If it wanted to contain China, Russia would be a natural choice.

      Reply
      1. km

        Russia and China are not natural allies – Russia and Germany are natural allies, in the sense that Germany has things that Russia wants (investment capital to build factories to provide jobs for Russian labor, together with know how and machine tools to run those factories, as well as finished products) and Russia has things that Germany wants (raw materials, markets for German products, and a place where German capital can be invested to build German factories to provide dividends to support German pensioners, manned by a skilled labor force that doesn’t actually move to Germany).

        Russia and China are not natural allies, but they have been driven together by American aggression.

        Reply
      2. Maxwell Johnston

        I wouldn’t bet on it either, but back in 1910 I wouldn’t have bet on the British and French cooperating closely. Given the past 600 years or so, they weren’t natural friends either. To borrow your words, a third party demonstrated dumbness. And history often rhymes. When WW1 kicked off, it turned out that British-French military staff planning was already very detailed. So when I read reports of increasingly complex joint training exercises with Chinese and Russian air/land/sea units, I really wonder.

        Reply
        1. JBird4049

          Everyone before the first world war, as in the second, was planning and rearming, while believing in the former and praying in the latter, that there would be no war.

          They were wrong. Anyways, it is common to plan for different possibilities and with different countries.

          You could argue that some had plans that were too detailed. There was no provision for changes. The Plan Must Be Followed. Germany had detailed timetables for the mobilization and moving by rail their entire army and attacking the allies.

          The mobilization took everyone days to do, but once someone started everyone else felt compelled to mobilize and fight according to their own prewar plans. To not do so made defeat likely. But nobody had a stop or off button in their detailed plans that covered but stopping the war even in the days to mobilize.

          It reminds me of those people who insist on following their gps directions directly into the river because “it said to.”

          Reply
          1. vlade

            The problem was quite complex, and yes, it was tied to mobilisation. But it wasn’t a question of train timetables.

            It was a question of who could mobilise the fastest.

            Basically, Germany didn’t believe it could win a two-front war (wth a Russia and France) at the same time (here it gets sort of funy, as Russia was a long time German ally, but they got cross when Willie II. fired Bismarck, but it’s TLDR …). Their plan was to strike a fast blow to France before the Russia could mobilise, which they expected to take at least a couple of weeks.

            But when Russia started to mobilise after Austria-Hungary invaded Serbia, the Germans found that Russia was mobilising MUCH faster than they expected, it literally took everyone in the Europe by surprise.

            So the Germans (who, let’s face, it wanted a war, because they believed the longer they would wait, the stronger Russia and Fance would become – even if it was likely errorneous belief, but it would be another TLDR post) were put before a really bad choice. They could either start mobilising immediately (and attack France), or wait – but if they waited too long, the Russia would have mobilised before they did, so they would not be able to strike French before Russians went for Prussia.

            They actually offered the French a non-aggression agreement then, but on conditions that were absolutely unacceptable (French vacating their border forts and letting Germans staff them for the duration of the German war with Russia).

            German plan also needed to invade Belgium, which meant a problem with the UK, who they desperately tried to keep neutral. Except again, what they needed would drag the UK into the war – even though the UK didn’t want to.

            But you are fundamentally right that the WW1 generals were very much “a plan has to be followed” type, and that was seen later, when British and French attacks broke because they didn’t do what the generals said they should do on the day one – or, in some cases (like the first tank attack) did get done too much. It was only towards the end of the war when more low-level control and flexibility started coming in. But the curious bit on that was that Germans learned, and made it a cornerstone for Wehrmacht in WW2, while the UK and especially French seemed to forget all those hard-won lessons.

            Reply
        2. vlade

          The difference is that Germans attacked Belgium and were looking to take the channel ports, which the UK repeatedly said would not allow.

          Up till about a day before Germany attacked Belgium, the UK was skewing towards neutrality – it knew it had little to gain, and a lot to lose from a war that would not get to the Channel.

          That’s one of the (many) ironies of the WW1. Germans thought they had to attack via Belgium, which didn’t help them. Chances are, if they instead concentrated on full-scale attacks along Franco-German borders, they could well have breaken through and beaten the French.

          I can’t see a similar case with Russia and China. Say if China goes after Taiwan (which IMO is the most likely cause of anything anytime soon) – why would Russia get involved? It could just happily watch the two sides slogging it out from the sidelines (unless they started nuking, of course). Russia just doesn’t have strategic interests in areas where China could collide with the US.

          Doesn’t mean it won’t happen. But about the only plausible scenario I can think of is a US attack on Iran, and China/Russia starting to support Iran, the US saying “stop or else” and them not stopping. But if the US would be mad enough to then start an open war with China and Russia while being involved in an invasion of Iran, then all bets are off.

          Reply
          1. Maxwell Johnston

            Good points all. The history of the run-up to WW1 is fascinating. And disturbing. “If China goes after Taiwan….why would Russia get involved?” Well, why did London get involved over some obscure affair in the Balkans? Today as a century ago there are alliances and potential flashpoints and huge standing militaries. I can imagine some local nonsense erupting in the Ukraine, and Poland deciding to intervene “for humanitarian reasons”, which leads to USA/NATO vs Russia, so China takes advantage of an overstretched USA to go after Taiwan, and Israel decides that this is a fine opportunity to go after Iran’s nuclear facilities, and so it goes. We simply don’t know how far advanced the China/Russia relationship is. But I suspect it’s much broader and deeper than many think; much like the British and French in 1914.

            Reply
            1. vlade

              When it was Balkans (Serbia), the UK didn’t want to get involved. It took Belgium (with which the UK had an explicit treaty) and the Channel ports (which were of strategic importance) for it to get involved.

              Taiwan is of strategic importance to the US (chips) – but not the Russia.

              Reply
        3. km

          The British and French were not natural allies in 1910, but they both were terrified of rising German might, which overcame their mutual dislike and rivalry.

          By the same token, Germany in 1910 was watching Russia industrialize rapidly and that gave the Kaiser’s General Staff the willies. France wasn’t what scared Germany over the longer term, but Russia.

          Reply
          1. vlade

            The UK didn’t worry too much about Germany once the Germany lost the naval race.

            The Germans weren’t afraid only of Russia, for some reason they believe

            Reply
            1. vlade

              doh.

              [Germans] believed they were being overtaken by all when in fact they were doing much much better than anyone. As can be seen in the second half of the 20th century, when Germans finally figured out that to take the Europe, they should not fight, but produce.

              Reply
              1. The Rev Kev

                ‘when Germans finally figured out that to take the Europe, they should not fight, but produce’ with quality goods.

                I think the last bit important myself.

                Reply
                1. vlade

                  I know it’s ugly stereotyping, but Germans not producing quality is like against their psyche or something ;)

                  (at least when it’s truly made-in-Germany, not for a German company in China).

                  They are very bad at services though.

                  Reply
      3. Kouros

        Are France and Germany natural friends, or France and the UK? If Yes why, given the very long history of animus between these polities…?

        Siberia was never Chinese. Mongolia, Inner Mongolia as well as Manchu territories were inherited from Mongols and Manchu, nothing that Chinese about those spaces.

        And as Germany has proven, it is easier to buy products than to go and conquer land…

        Reply
        1. Jessica

          You are correct that far eastern Siberia (Primoria) was never Chinese, but rather Manchu. However, if the Chinese think of it as theirs, that will create the same potential conflict.
          After all, the Chinese claim and hold both Tibet and Xinjiang based on the Manchu Qing dynasty having conquered them.

          Reply
          1. Kouros

            What do you think would be the probability of China going after those far east lands of Russia in the next 50 years?

            As opposed to the issue of Taiwan for instance, or the safety of its shipping in South East China Sea?

            Reply
            1. vlade

              Chinese are already on those lands.

              Chinese companies conduct massive illegal logging operation in Siberia, which even (some) Russians strongly object to, but can’t do much about. The Chinese pay off the Russian officials to close their eyes.

              That said, the amounts of illegal logging in Siberia are massive, not just by Chinese. I know people who spent time there, driving some of the heavy equipment. The pay is excelllent – and, because it’s all illegal, tax free. Mind you, if you get run over by a truck (because you or your mate driving it were drunk), it’s your problem..

              Reply
    3. Kurt Sperry

      European economic dependence on Russian energy inputs is perhaps analogous to US dependence on Chinese manufactured inputs. The guy who drives the truck to deliver gaz for heating in Italy told me it was all Russian sourced. German industry needs it as well, the alternatives, such as they may even exist, are all ruinously more expensive.

      Reply
  7. Pat

    Unexpected weather takes out the power grid in Texas, and now problems are appearing elsewhere.

    And I go back to the discussion about electric vehicles, a discussion where some of us were talking at cross purposes. It isn’t just capacity that should concern advocates, delivery should too. Our grid is vulnerable to weather, sabotage, and yes increased demand. It is also interconnected. Strain on one section will undermine other parts and take them out fairly quickly. And here we are, blackouts that endanger people even before dependence on electric vehicles.

    Like so many other aspects of modern life, our betters have done the least possible while grifting the most possible. As a result we the people face multiple infrastructure failures. Fixing them costs a lot even before we add in “the cost of doing business”.

    Yes Biden and all of Congress should be working on sending out checks, not check, to people. But they should also be reinforcing the Post Office While expanding their mission to banking and broadband, and providing the means to shore up our water and sewage systems, our rail system, our road system, AND our electrical system. Unfortunately all of those things step on the toes of large donors who believe nothing should be done that doesn’t only benefit them. So we get words of support along with show impeachments, ridiculous recesses, and a geriatric President playing Mario Kart instead of golf rather than action.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I’ve convinced quite a few people in LA to invest a whole $20 in 20 gallons of water in 8x 2 1/2 gallon rectangles nicely fitted in 2 cardboard boxes, by telling them the saga of the 1976 Guatemala earthquake, as related by my mom’s twice a month maid about a decade ago, who lived through it.

      Over lunch with my mom & I, she explained that it was a shallow 7.5 temblor that pretty much broke all the pipes that supplied water, and if you survived (23,000 didn’t) there was no water whatsoever for those that made it through the horror. She went 2 days without a drop.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1976_Guatemala_earthquake

      I wouldn’t have thought to give the same advice to Texans, but they’re in the same boat with froze up pipes and no H20.

      As far as the other end goes, no water means no flushing the toilet.

      I like the Cleanwaste Go Anywhere portable toilet that uses WAG bags. It folds up into what approximates a briefcase of sorts, and is wickedly sturdy and can support somebody 500 pounds sitting on the throne.

      https://www.cleanwaste.com/go-anywhere-portable-toilet

      Reply
      1. cocomaan

        Can you recommend a good container for storing water? In PA, we have no shortage of water (the snowpack this year is off the chain), but I’d like to have some container to store water that isn’t random gallon jugs and ball jars. Ball jars especially, because they are getting hard to find.

        Reply
        1. foghorn longhorn

          Those 5 gallon water dispenser bottles are handy
          A 5 gallon jug with lid is also handy
          Bath tubs make great emergency holding tanks
          Much more than 5 gallons can be a bear to slog through the snow with

          Reply
          1. Wukchumni

            I’d get Reliance Products 7 gallon blue plastic aqua-tainer with built in spigot for easy pouring.

            They’ll set you back about $15…

            Reply
        2. petal

          Maybe one of those big gatorade water coolers like teams have on the sidelines? They hold 10 gallons and take a beating so it’ll last a long time. Looks like Rubbermaid and Igloo have them, too, for cheaper.

          Reply
        3. Amfortas the hippie

          for the lower end of “Bulk”, i use 50 gallon drums that i get at the feedstore. Used to have some kind of industrial lye dish soap in them, so it takes a good bit of rinsing out.
          they also have steel drums, 50 gallon, that are lined, and used to have things like tomato sauce in them.
          you can find them brand new sometimes online, but they’re bulky(not heavy), so shipping can be weird.
          with either, one can build a steel frame from scrap iron, plumb them all together using bulkhead fittings, and have yourself a waterwall…when i get around to recovering the big ass greenhouse(3000 sq ft) that’s what’s going on the south end and in the middle. paint them all black and they’ll hold in the sun’s heat, as well as serve as a reservoir for your misters.
          main thing with water storage containers, of any size, is what was in them previously.
          you can’t clean a crude oil drum sufficiently to store potable water.
          for those with a bit of ready cash, tractor supply has a pretty good selection of new water tanks of various sizes and configurations…small to 1500 gallons.
          rule of thumb for pricing…that’s held rather steady for 20 years out here…is about $1 per gallon.

          Reply
          1. cocomaan

            Nice. Great ideas from all.

            I also could see food safe 5 gallon buckets being good for someone with limited space. Having a pour spout would be great, the way 5 gallon paint buckets do.

            However I have a hell of a time finding them in person, as opposed to shipped. The shipping cost is of course wacky.

            Reply
            1. Synoia

              I have 12 of the 5 Gallon water bottles which were designed for water. And I try to keep 7 or 8 full while rotating their use.

              Reply
            2. AndrewJ

              5 gallon buckets formerly containing soy sauce or pickles are jewels – I have a habit of picking them up when I see them, mostly out back of Asian kitchens or sandwich shops.

              Reply
          2. polecat

            One of our hardware stores sell 35 – 55 gal. ‘rain barrels’ .. formerly food shipping containers ( the ones I bought smelled of olives and vinegar!) that have hosebibs threaded a few inches above bottom. They are heavy-duty plastic containers, usually sporting a lid held in place with a corresponding plastic treaded collar. Only downside is that they need to be raised up a bit, nestled and secured on a stable base that will take the weight of any water contained therein.

            Reply
          3. Kurt Sperry

            In Tuscany, a normal, even modest, farm house has a “cisterna” or cistern of I’m guessing from one to several hundred gallons fed by downspouts off the terra cotta tiled roof. I was told by a farmer it was once common to keep freshwater eels in the cistern, both because they kept the water potable and could be eaten on special occasions.

            Reply
            1. Wukchumni

              Big Berkeys are good, but can only filter 6,000 gallons of water versus a Swiss made Katadyn Gravidyn filter which can process 40,000 for about the same price.

              Its a no-brainer which one i’d prefer…

              Reply
        4. BlakeFelix

          I’m in PA and I buy 5 gallon pails from Tractor supply for $5, or used 55 gallon food safe drums for 20, or 250(ish) gallon skidster totes from a guy near Tunkhannock, but I expect that there are such guys all over.

          Reply
  8. russell1200

    “The poverty of the middle-class: lack of savoir-faire”

    There is some truth to our middle class not really understanding the ways of the world.

    But in what planet does one go to an ivy league school because you know that it would be fully paid for. Really? And the author says this right after she sites the case of a girl who couldn’t get into the University of Texas. And the author sites one of the professions where which school you go to is important to your career advancement.

    I would argue that greater middle class savoir-faire would lead to an understanding that the upper tier portion of the system has been rigged against them.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      Yeah, it takes a while for the author to state her real point clearly. You see,

      “This is not about having money… This is about knowing how things work. In the age of the internet, such ignorance and lack of savoir-faire is inexcusable, and it is only right for it to be treated as a flaw. Back in 1905, my great-grandfather who had grown up in unfathomable, though genteel, poverty managed to figure out that Harvard doctorates were fully funded. He pursued one to the benefit of himself and his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. If he could gather information and take action in 1905, in a part of the country without telephone, running water, electricity, or proper roads, what excuse is there for people today?”

      “Gathering information and then taking action has another name: meritocracy.”

      See, this is about merit. And there is *no excuse* for you if you don’t get yourself admitted to Harvard!

      It seems Notes on Liberty is a libertarian blog. From the “About” page:

      “Founded in 2012, NOL initially set out to be a project composed of scholars and activists in the San Francisco-Monterey Bay-Silicon Valley region of California, but quickly grew into something much more cosmopolitan than even that part of the world.”

      “The tagline ‘Spontaneous thoughts on a humble creed’ comes from the insights of FA Hayek, who recognized that order comes from spontaneity below, not scripture from on high..”

      Etc.

      Regarding the way “savoir-faire” really works, I’d recommend Pierre Bourdieu.

      Reply
      1. freebird

        The author displays an ugly mean streak in thinking teenagers and their all-walks parents should and can know how each industry and academic grove works.

        From your comment now I see, it’s veiled bragging about her family’s success. Another tale from the top about how they got that well-earned home run from a perch on third base.

        Reply
        1. pjay

          It’s actually more stunning than that. Though I’ve been reading stuff like this my whole life, for some reason this one really bugged me. So I googled the author. She does indeed seem like an accomplished woman. But let’s forget for a moment about the thousands of completely informed and determined applicants with perfect GPAs and hundreds of activities who *don’t* get admitted to Harvard. In reading the bio on her own website this one line appeared amongst all the accomplishments:

          “Born in Hanoi, Vietnam, Mary Lucia was adopted and raised in Kentucky alongside her older brother and younger sister (Korean and Chinese adoptees respectively).”

          So I guess *luck* has nothing to do with it either.

          https://www.maryluciadarst.com/bio

          Reply
        2. JBird4049

          Being a Supreme Court Justice unofficially requires an Ivy League degree. Preferably from Harvard Law. I think that many of the still well paying, high status occupations requires (also unofficially) a degree from one of those eight New England universities. There are around nineteen million American college students and we would probably have more if debt peonage was not the fate of many.

          Just how many people can realistically go to those few universities in such a very small part of the country; how many people are denied a chance to contribute; just how limited are the elites’ experiences, ideas, dreams, and certainly wisdom?

          So. To be at the top of a profession you must have a talent or skill in certain specific informational manipulation while dressing, talking, acting, and professing the same things as your fellow students/graduates acquired from an educational flyspeck.

          It wasn’t always this way, but as the country has become more unequal, dysfunctional and dystopian during the past forty years the ways to success, however Americans might define it, have narrowed or disappeared.

          Reply
        3. Procopius

          I dont think post-graduate degrees are “fully funded” any more, else why would graduate students be trying to form unions (which are viciously opposed by “liberal” faculty and administrations alike)?

          Reply
      2. Fraibert

        If this information were so obvious, why do elite private schools have counselors for college admissions? Why would anyone hire admissions consultants to help with applications? An entire subset of PMC professionals lives on this kind of knowledge.

        Reply
    2. CloverBee

      The author points out that graduate degrees can be completely paid for at Ivy League schools, and with the internet anyone should know that and be able to access it. They also equate an Ivy League degree with better knowledge of the law. This used to condemn the less successful, and justify the current order.

      First of all, getting into an Ivy League graduate school is open first to Ivy League undergraduates, and next to the extremely successful from other schools, tiered of course. I have a relative accepted to an Ivy League undergraduate schol only after agreeing to full tuition, no financial aid. I have a friend who got all A’s in a Pre-Med Ivy League School, but had one semester where they worked during college… that Semester they got A’s and B’s, and ended up at a state school med school instead.

      The relative with an Ivy League undergraduate degree has gotten multiple jobs based primarily on their Ivy League undergraduate degree, with State School a graduate degree, scholarships for the graduate degree also awarded based on undergraduate Ivy League credentials.

      The friend with a State School medical degree married a doctor with an Ivy League medical degree. Same specialty, the doctor with the Ivy League degree got a top residency and then posting at a top hospital. The doctor with the State School medical degree got a less prestigious residency and a job at public hospital in the same city. All because they worked a job part-time 1 semester in college.

      Access to college without financial aid or working a job is a huge advantage in life, and increases ones savoir-faire exponentially. This is not meant to detract from another’s work, but to highlight how advantages and disadvantages compound quickly.

      Reply
      1. km

        Tuition at Ivy League law schools is not typically covered by merit-based aid or by scholarships, unless you count student loans as a type of aid.

        The assumption is that the salary an Ivy League law grad makes should be more than enough to pay back those loans.

        Reply
        1. CloverBee

          The author implies that they are … ” A lawyer I know has made it well into adulthood without knowing that advanced degrees from Ivy League schools are fully funded, i.e. free.” and “When she decided on law school, she pursued only Ivy Plus schools exactly because they were the ones with the best funding and scholarships; name recognition was an aside. ”

          I personally do not have the knowledge to know one way or another, and so based my reply on the author’s statements. You are saying is that the premise of that example is wrong as well.

          Reply
          1. km

            Yes, unless Ivy League law schools have suddenly gotten a lot more generous with aid and/or scholarships in recent years.

            Reply
            1. Fraibert

              I don’t believe Ivy League professional schools are particularly generous in most cases and certainly are willing to charge full freight to normal middle class people. My understanding is Ivy undergraduate education is “free” for those of up to the middle class, defined based around parental income. Terminal graduate education outside of the professional arenas (Ph. D’s) are usually funded at the Ivies, though Masters degrees are likely another cash cow.

              Reply
    3. Dirk77

      The author confuses success by merit, by actually getting results, with success by credentials. The latter is a substitute for merit by people who are not competent enough to judge, are too lazy, are themselves members of the credentialed class and self-serving solidarity with their bro’s causes them to rely on it, or all of the above. The article reads as the grasping of an elite who realizes that the rest of us are on to their con and they can’t anymore claim to be more competent and be believed, so falls back into how being more savvy in her backroom backstabbing entitles her to rule. Perhaps when it becomes real backstabbing it does. In the meantime, it takes real nerve to publish such an article in your own name when you haven’t even completed your doctorate.

      Reply
  9. The Rev Kev

    “391-Year-Old Bonsai Tree Survived Hiroshima Bombings and Keeps Growing”

    It goes back to 1625? Seriously? In terms of history, that is a serious long time to live. How long? When that beautiful tree first stared growing, here are some of the events that were happening in other parts of the world-

    -Charles Stuart (Charles I) succeeded to the throne of England and marries before the end of the year.
    -Barbary pirates first attack south-western England. In August they enslave about 60 people from Mount’s Bay in Cornwall.
    -The Dutch settle Manhattan, founding the town of New Amsterdam. The town will transform into a piece of New York City.
    -The first members of the Society of Jesus move to Quebec, Canada.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1625

    Can’t resist it. ‘What does one 400 year-old Bonsai Tree say to the other?’

    ‘What do you think the next four hundred years will be like?’

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      I hate to be the one that mentions that the Bonsai tree looks like a mushroom cloud, but there you have it.

      Must be one of the oldest cared for from the get go trees, i’d guess.

      My favorite Giant Sequoia is at least 3,000 old and possibly the oldest one of all, and it languishes on a steep slope that requires about 3 hours walking off-trail to be in it’s presence.

      http://sequoiaquest.com/atwell-mill-arm-tree-tour-6212019.html

      Reply
      1. Amfortas the hippie

        dern, Wuk…one o these days, ima pitch a tent in yer yard.
        hanging out with those things is one of the last items on my bucket list.
        (i’d like to chill with Pando, too)

        Reply
        1. Wukchumni

          You can put it off as long as you’d like, as they aren’t going anywhere, but do make it happen.

          I’ve got photos of me when I was a tyke on top of fallen giants, they have been quite an influence and although they’ve grown somewhat in almost 60 years, not that you could really tell all that much.

          Most everything else in the human world has changed so dramatically, in comparison.

          Reply
      2. polecat

        Oh C’mon .. bonsai are grown/trained into All sorts of shapes and styles! Get your head outta the mushroom clouds will ya!

        Reply
    2. JacobiteInTraining

      ‘…Charles Stuart (Charles I) succeeded to the throne of England and marries before the end of the year…’

      GOD SAVE THE KING!

      Reply
    3. John Hacker

      “The white pine’s connection to Hiroshima was only revealed in 2001,…” A very telling commentary on a person’s or a people’s character. i was reading a book published in 1939. the talk and importance of character building was emphasised. Seeing the note about the tree gave me pause to consider where i place character, and character building. i am still very sad President Obama rationalized approval of assassination by drone.

      Reply
      1. John

        In my mind, the most remarkable thing about that bonsai is that for the whole time of its life, a human had to tend it on a weekly basis at minimum….Hiroshima bombing and all.
        That is a level of abiding focus and attention completely outside American culture.

        Reply
        1. polecat

          Root pruning is an essential practice in maintaining a bonsai’s vigor, as much as shaping the crown is. I have 9, some grown started as seedlings (mostly Acer japonicum, with a few Larix and Ginko in the mix) in training that I eally need to make pots for.

          Reply
            1. polecat

              Might STILL be in plastic (SHUDDER!) by the time they leaf out .. in which case, I’ll have to pot them proper NEXT spring! I’ll see what I can do, Lambert.

              Reply
  10. Louis Fyne

    this comment is going to get slack….

    using electricity (eg, heat pumps) as a heating source (as is common in the South) is suboptimal without more fission plants.

    As natural gas is a much more practical heating fuel in sub-freezing temps, and should be used more in the South

    I want green power, but the practical hurdles of wind turbines (essentially a giat spinning helicopter blade) in ice/snow make fission a non-CO2 necessity.

    ready to be flamed, but the thermodynamics are on my side until we see some Star Trek like breakthrough

    Reply
      1. John Hacker

        Who can guess the deaths by carbon monide by fires in the caves. The first commercialized natural gas occurred in Britain. Around 1785, the British used natural gas produced from coal to light houses and streets. In 1816, Baltimore, Maryland used this type of manufactured natural gas to become the first city in the United States to light its streets with gas. Please check the record before you shot your finger off.

        Reply
      2. A Nonny Mouse

        you’re off by about 3 orders of magnitude for Homo Sapiens’ existence – it’s in the few hundreds of thousands. Not even primitive Hominids were around 102m years ago. Still, NatGas history is something like at or below rounding error levels. Wood burning, otoh … unfortunately the ratio of trees to humans is not what it used to be.

        Reply
      3. Arizona Slim

        Back in the day, my mother was assistant safety director for the gas company mentioned in the first story.

        Believe me, she and her coworkers took safety VERY seriously. I’m no fan of corporations, but, in this case, I’m going to guess that the cause of the explosion was inside the house, not within the infrastructure.

        Chris, if I’m wrong, please correct me.

        Reply
        1. Amfortas the hippie

          i have the same impression of our local propane people.
          they take it real serious like.
          remind the new boss(who bought the 60 year old family company last year) that they need their certification upgraded, etc.
          I know these folks well…they double as the irrigation/plumber’s store, too.
          that said, i remember some town in the north east that had the gas company slacking off, and ended up with random explosions all around.
          don’t remember where.
          private equity was liklely involved.

          Reply
          1. petal

            It was in MA a few years ago:
            “One person was killed and least 25 were injured Thursday after suspected gas line explosions rocked three communities north of Boston, causing dozens of homes to ignite.

            Fire departments responded Thursday to about 150 emergency calls that included 60 to 80 structure fires in Lawrence, Andover and North Andover, where thousands of residents were forced to evacuate. And at least one Lawrence resident, 18-year-old Leonel Rondon, was killed because of a home explosion.”

            Reply
          2. Old Sarum

            You reminded me of “King of the Hill” with mention of propane. A wonderful cultural product with a great theme tune by “The Refreshments”.

            Pip Pip!

            Reply
    1. Frankie

      Finances are on the side of taxpayers sick of financing the nuclear chain-reaction of subsidies for private profit. So is EROI, Energy Returned on Energy Investment. Add up all the the energy inputs required to build a fission or fusion plant, versus what is returned, versus a solar panel on every roof.

      Too bad somebody didn’t get a degree in computer engineering instead of nuclear…Talk about a stranded investment.

      Reply
    2. Zamfir

      Ice and snow are not fundamental problems for wind turbines, if they are designed for those conditions. There are wind farms in the north of Sweden or the middle of Canada, in areas where it keeps freezing for months on end. They isolate and heat the hub, and even the blades can get a de-icing system.

      Problems occur when wind turbines encounter unanticipated cold, that they were not designed for. That’s the same for nuclear plants, those can be rather sensitive to ice around their tertiary cooling loops if it was not expected.

      Reply
      1. Glen

        Indeed, I look at these types of failures, and smell the work of the PMC. Countless times where I work, I have seen the PMC make a decision to save a thousand that ends up costing millions, and on several occasions, make a decision to save millions that end up costing billions.

        Reply
  11. jr

    Re: Virtual Rationality

    I’m stunned that WIRED would run an article this critical of an arm of the tech industry. It’s chilling. Carmack is completely out of his mother lovin’ mind:

    ” The promise of VR is to make the world you wanted. It is not possible, on Earth, to give everyone all that they would want. Not everyone can have Richard Branson’s private island,”

    Where does one begin to unpack the lunacies embedded in this paragraph? The promise of VR is to return value to stock holders as well as advance the ideological goals of the technocrats, it seems. Any “world”(and I’ve lived in a virtual world for years, 5 year EVE vet here) is obviously going to be shaped, controlled, delineated by it’s creators. It’s the world of someone else’s dreams, for rent by the month. I suppose Carmack wills start calling VR coders creator-gods or something next. And why is it he assumes that everyone wants Branson’s island? I just want a decent standard of living. Branson’s island should be a protected wildlife site, not a playboy’s hide-a-way. Carmack’s already living in VR.

    ““People react negatively to any talk of economics, but it is resource allocation. You have to make decisions about where things go. Economically, you can deliver a lot more value to a lot of people in the virtual sense.”

    Equating virtual “value” with actual, material value is deranged. It really is. And this hard talk of “making decisions” is simply neo-liberal “common sense” sociopathy. It’s all just natural, man, just resources allocating themselves…yours will disappear in a power outage however.

    “Now, the simulation is not as good as the real thing.”

    The fact that he felt compelled to explain this point simultaneously speaks volumes and leaves one speechless. I can almost see the, I assume, serious look on his face as he shares this nugget of wisdom with Rogan. Carmack must hear angels singing when he sits on the throne in the morning.

    “If you are rich and you have your own home theater or mansion and private island, good for you … you’re probably not the people that are going to benefit the most,”

    This line is literally sickening. The notion that this technology is somehow a benefit, almost as if it’s some sort of an advantage that alert poor people can seize, displays a “peasant-master” mentality on the part of Carmack that is frankly a huge red flag. If this is what the techno-paths are thinking, we have problems.

    Then, the ravings of Gabe Newell:

    “He even called the body a “meat peripheral” and further dehumanized the physical form.”

    Yep, the same old dull materialist reductionism of Life shackled to the corpse-wagon of neoliberalism. Techno-serfdom for you while Newell grows into a human tumor with a T1 connection in a vat of synthetic amniotic fluid somewhere.

    ” “The real world will seem flat, colorless, blurry compared to the experiences you’ll be able to create in people’s brains.”

    Great, like those hi-def TV’s that are so crisp and clear it hurts to look at them for too long. No notions of people creating their own experiences, oh right, there will probably be a map editor…

    Then, back to Carmack’s holding cell:

    ” “Is his life really better if he takes them off and he’s in this horrible place?”…That is what human beings do, we bend the world to our will.”

    Is the opposite true? Is his life really better with creeping doom all about him but a virtual wooby-blanket at hand? I’d appeal to Carmack to consider the possibility of doing things differently but hey, this is what people do right? We bend the world to our will. It’s just the way it is. And when the world bends back around and pile-drives us, we create fake worlds to hide in. And dullard ideologies to make it sound okay. What could possibly go wrong?

    “That’s how the world gets better, by building technologies and distributing them to people so that they have something better than they would have had if that didn’t exist,” he said.”

    So instead of distributing say, food, or medicine, or justice, or peace, we need to hand out VR goggles. How is this man allowed to walk about freely? If he wasn’t a millionaire with a platform he would be receiving Thorazine treatment.

    Reply
      1. skippy

        That flows right with the creator myths E.g. it made us and now watches and judges its simulation.

        @jr …

        Can’t you see the path too unlimited freedom and liberty … where – one – can achieve their ***own individual*** potential and with it happiness[tm] …. chortle …

        Reply
  12. a different chris

    >Heart failure cases soar globally

    Ok I am the last one to downplay this, but gawd our Medical Industrial Complex…

    “Failure” to us engineers means “stops working catastrophically.” Verranzo Narrows Bridge. But nowadays your heart can be “in failure” even if it seems to be working fine to you. That’s not saying it’s OK, it’s like saying that car that gets your 5 mile commute done does not give you a good feeling if you need to hit the interstate, but to us normals the car is not “failed”.

    What heart “failure” means to the MIC is that you get to go to the doctor an extra time a year (cha ching) you get a backpack full of medications (cah ching) and otherwise you go on about your life forever shamed because you didn’t eat or exercise right, even when you have the receipts that show you so very much did.

    Now you might die from a heart “attack”, but how something that is “failed” manages an “attack” is again a mystery and not explained to us unwashed.

    Ah well. I’m not actually complaining, well I am but nowadays my complaint is that I was too honest (stupid) to get on the right side of so many $$$ cons that nowadays exist in this twilighting society.

    Reply
    1. Synoia

      Every profession has its own jargon.

      In electrical work, “dead” means “Disconnected or Turned Off.”

      In human actions “Turned Off” means something very different.

      Reply
    2. You're soaking in it

      Unless I (and NC) missed a story, the Verrazzano Narrows bridge is still fine – goes from Brooklyn to Staten Island. Maybe the short lived Tacoma Narrows is the one. It’s what I think of as catastrophic!

      Now the traffic across the Verrazzano, that can be something else again . . .

      Reply
  13. The Rev Kev

    “China targets rare earth export curbs to hobble US defence industry”

    Been expecting this. The US has been trying to choke off the supply of computer chips to China as that is a Chinese vulnerability so it was only a matter of time before China hit back by attacking an American vulnerability – rare earths. It is remarkable that each F-35 required 417kgs of rare-earth materials as the whole thing weighs about 13,290 kgs. It will take the Chinese years to learn how to manufacture all the chips that they need but it will also be years until those rare earth mines in the US and Australia come online and produce sufficient rare earths themselves so I guess that it will all balance out in the end. Kinda.

    Reply
    1. a fax machine

      All depends on the capability of the US government. If Biden tasks his Dept of Energy and USGS with mineral exploitation and the DOT with mineral recovery (from salvage lots) this problem is solvable within a much shorter period. The AEC’s predecessors used similar methodology to quickly source another rare-earth mineral, Uranium, in the 1940s under the duress of war and California used such salvage rules to deal with battery disposal.

      However, Biden doesn’t seem to be taking the issue with the gravity it demands. Another year of this and all US industry will be shortchanged, and only after a huge crisis happens will he act. Or not, and suddenly the US economy won’t work anymore.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        fax

        suddenly the US economy won’t work anymore.

        I’ve been wondering about that, recently. It’s just a year ago that a record number of millions of people applied for unemployment insurance. For six months in a row. Barely mentioned at the time was that there are also a lot of people who didn’t even bother to apply, either because they aren’t eligible or because the process is just too damned hard. Then there were (a few) stories about food banks experiencing miles long lines of cars coming to beg for food aid. I haven’t seen one of those stories for at least six months. Then there were stories about unemployed people facing eviction because they can’t make their mortgage/rent payment. Yet it seems the economy is chugging along merrily, with people on the internet discussing which store has (organic) arugula the freshest. This does not compute. I was somewhat aware of media disinformation and suppression of news before 1980, but since 2016 it seemed to have moved two or three levels higher. I have not done the work to make even back of the envelope calculations, but my internal calculator feels like there’s dissonance here.

        Reply
    2. PS

      Haven’t we been hearing that China is going to do this for 10+ years? (thinking back to 2010ish rare earth miner bubble that was based on this storyline).

      Reply
  14. arkansasangie

    Re — Maryland Becomes First State to Tax Big Tech’s Ad Revenue

    You betcha. Come on. These ginormous monopolistic tech non-human corporate entities coming in and raiding our local communities because they have no costs … no skin in said communities.

    It’s because of them that our local news organizations don’t exist. Their life blood got siphoned off by these yahoos

    Reply
  15. The Rev Kev

    “Germany aims for new deal with Washington on Nord Stream 2”

    ‘One idea being floated is the concept of “snapbacks” — a mechanism that would allow Germany to shut off Nord Stream 2 if Russia puts pressure on Ukraine, say, by arbitrarily cutting supplies through its gas transit system.’

    Won’t work. The Ukraine has a dodgy record of not paying for gas shipments or siphoning off supplies meant for Europe. Will there be a snapback if the Ukraine refuses to pay for delivered gas and the Russians cut off their gas? And who gets to really decide on this snapback. The US or the EU? But there is another factor. Those pipelines going through the Ukraine are getting on in age. They are going to need replacing sooner or later. So who pays to replace them? Now that would be an interesting question. Russia? (Nyet!) The EU? The Ukraine?

    Reply
    1. weimer

      Sounds like a ruse to placate the (very) unhappy uncle Sam. Why would Germans ever cut off their gas supply? For what? To freeze in winter? Or not to have energy to power their industry? Cut your nose off to spite your face? They are just making this little offering to the big, bad wolf at the door, hoping that when the time comes, they’d just find another excuse to delay.

      Reply
  16. Donald

    What were we supposed to find important about the savoir-faire article? It was a defense of the meritocracy against people who want to succeed in the system but don’t know the rules. They should know the rules, which apparently means that people smart enough to know they can get merit based scholarships to the Ivies deserve their success. Okay.

    Reply
    1. skippy

      It its curious that when the term – meritocracy – was coined, in its authors use, was dripping with sarcasm and irony in a foreboding manner.

      Contra to that framework the usual ideological suspects have flipped it upside down to have the opposite meaning and then claim it as their “”own””. Could not bother to *invent* their own term or more than likely, in my experience, take something that has a negative connotation wrt atomistic or asocial frameworks and repurpose it, as too remove the original meaning from the term in the broader social debate E.g. steal in broad daylight or render anything that might threaten its dominance in its authority to administrate social perceptions aka reality of ***ourselves***.

      I’m reminded pre GFC of the Austrians doing the rounds internationally in ringing in the good news [preaching and pandering = proselytizing] to elitists by holding seminars. In an old NC Philip post I linked to a European example where meritocratic people from public or private spheres were invited, military, public officials, executives, wealthy, et al, were all in attendance.

      The entire project was centered on informing these people that they had all ***earned*** the right to administrate, too their lessors, and reap the rewards that came with it, more so, that they should abandon any doubt or nagging ill feelings about being above their lessors because … was it not self evident.

      As such, not unlike orthodox economics, failure is always attributed to those being administrated too and not on those administrating.

      Whats not too like about that gig … eh …

      Reply
  17. Wukchumni

    Watched the PBS News Hour for the first time in a world of Sundays, and noticed something…

    Last time I had it on a few years back, it was sponsored by BNSF Railroad & the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (and viewers like you), but yesterday there were no less than about 60 sponsors in increasingly smaller type as the credits rolled.

    Reply
    1. cocomaan

      Yep, I noticed this too, listening to NPR a few weeks ago. The sponsor roll is looooong. And much more corporate.

      As a non-profit fundraiser, I get it though. Foundations just aren’t handing out the big bucks anymore, and definitely not to help you make payroll. Foundations now almost exclusively fund new programs. So you have to pitch a new program to them or they won’t even let you in the room.

      Reply
      1. weimer

        Not that long ago, NPR got a uuuge donation from the McDonald’s heiress. They should be set for a very long time, with no need continuously to beg for $. Unless, of course, salaries are through the roof.
        Or maybe the old, steady listeners have turned away because the “reporting” is so yuck, national propaganda radio.

        Reply
        1. cocomaan

          Probably both! I am sure their individual donations are dropping (all individual donations are dropping across the non-profit world) and they are probably overpaying staff to research Russiagate on Twitter all day.

          Reply
    2. Still Above Water

      We used to call it ”National Petroleum Radio” for the shows sponsored by Exxon & BP. Now we call it “National Propaganda Radio”, because RussiaRussiaRussia.

      Reply
      1. km

        Tom Wolfe lampooned PBS as “Petroleum’s British Subsidiary” since they ran so many British TV shows (fawning anglophilia being a hallmark of the upper and managerial classes), sponsored by Exxon or some other megapolluter.

        Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    “How The Iowa Caucus Results Fell Apart”

    Poor Troy Price. He doesn’t see it. With a population of a little over three million people, you would think that it would be easy to sort out the Iowa caucus. And normally it would. Iowa, after all, had a lot riding on it reputation wise. But I will say here that it is my opinion that the reason that it was fouled up because that was what was wanted by the DNC. They wanted Bernie Sanders’s momentum killed and Pete Buttigieg to get ahead of him (for the moment). And it worked. Remember when Pete Buttigieg declared himself winner before the votes were even counted? I bet that he was told to do so. And when the article say that ‘Pete Buttigieg’s campaign accidentally published the call center phone number and private code, causing a flood of prank calls, false reports, and people calling to curse.’ I am sure that that was by design as well. So Iowa was sacrificed to try to cripple Bernie’s campaign and so all that chaos that you saw was by design. You would need a lot of doubt and uncertainty sewn in order to get the result that the DNC wanted. I wonder if Troy price knows that yet? Or is he being a loyal soldier by not admitting it?

    Reply
    1. Lunker Walleye

      >But I will say here that it is my opinion that the reason that it was fouled up because that was what was wanted by the DNC. They wanted Bernie Sanders’s momentum killed and Pete Buttigieg to get ahead of him (for the moment). And it worked.

      “The news Iowa depends upon” newspaper lead in this debacle when they did not project a winner in their poll that always precedes the caucus. I wish someone would investigate that story, too. Troy Price had to take the fall for the DNC. I think Bernie was winning and DNC could not abide by those results. After seeing the photo above showing the turnout against invasion of Iraq and reading this story, I am beyond sad.

      Reply
      1. WJ

        This is a great point I had forgotten about. There *absolutely* must have been pressure on the paper, direct or indirect, to avoid the creation of a narrative supporting Sanders in advance of the fact.

        Reply
    2. jhallc

      I was thinking the same thing as I read the article. The DNC was responsible for pushing the use of the Shadow App when they shut down Price’s hopes for virtual caucuses in August 2019. My tin foil hat may be a little tight but, I’m thinking they knew Biden was not going to do well in Iowa and they wanted to keep Sanders from getting any momentum prior to the SC and other southern primaries where they could arrange for Biden to turn the tide. No mention of Sanders in the article until the very end and it just refers negatively to him with the mention of conspiracy theories. Also no mention of Sander’s campaign efforts to hold small accesable caucuses and transparent vote collection.

      Reply
  19. LaRuse

    Re: Electricity issues
    Hello from South of Richmond, VA where we got power back at 5pm last night after 50 hours out. I grew up on the coast of VA so hurricanes and nor’easters were a common occurrence for me, but this was my first ever ice storm. I would very much not like a repeat. Except we are lining up for a second event on Thursday.
    We were lucky. We have a camp stove, propane canisters, gas grill, percolator, and lots of woolen hand knits on hand. I prepped exactly as I would have for a hurricane with pre-cooked food and a couple of camp-stove appropriate planned meals to follow the first day out, and we did okay if not super comfortable and warm. The house was 49 when the power came back.
    Richmond VA last had an ice storm in the mid-90s, but I hear it wasn’t this severe (I was a coastal critter still back then). No one I know recalls one this nasty any time in the past generation. Anyone else notice how many 500 or 1000 year super-rare weather events have happened just in the past decade or so? Much less two in the same week like we are expecting now?

    Reply
    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Richmond VA last had an ice storm in the mid-90s

      I don’t know about Richmond, but that ’95 storm was a bad ice storm in Virginia. It came with wind. There were powerlines down everywhere on top of the ice. The cold didn’t set in as much.

      Reply
  20. a fax machine

    In less-than-optimistic and completely subjective news:

    With local colleges around me closed I suddenly had no place to tutor people anymore, which I would occasionally do on weekends since I got nothing better to do. But then I get a phone call – the place where I got my ASE is open and they need instructors. As it turns out, Wyotech&friends are doing very well due to the pandemic, they are allowed to stay open and thus have a gov’t-backed college monopoly in my area. Students who actually need to make money from their degrees have to use them or similar technical schools. Thus, they are completely booked up and waitlisted unless people want to drive to Modesto for class (no offense to Modesto residents, of course).

    The winners of Covid are being decided now, as far as I can tell it’s car mechanics, truckers, and and consummate support staff (eg machinists, electrical engineers, welders, other people needed to rebuild a car). Interestingly, despite many of these people being blue collar, immigrant, Unionized or what have you all of them agree that Democrats are awful for shutting everything down and that doctors need to “nut up” (their words) as they did. I’m not arguing for that -these people have never seen a $30k ICU bill- but the lack of social support becomes rawer and harder every day.

    Something new is coming of this. I don’t know what, but I see the old system dying. “Recovery” is increasingly not an option unless Biden is willing to continue Roosevelt’s great experiment.

    Reply
  21. A Nonny Mouse

    Cancel Culture, Where Liberalism Goes to Die Chris Hedges (RR)

    Cancel Culture is a feature (not a bug) of Democratic Party LLC. Any actual Liberalism pulled along in it is either caught in the crossfire or scheduled to be. It is rather horrifying to witness live one of those “first they came for …” stories.

    Reply
  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Can’t Get You Out of My Head review

    I watched the whole thing over the weekend and was pretty impressed. If you’re looking for a typical documentary that does some investigation and comes to a conclusion, this is it, but it is a really great overview of the last 100 years or so of history explaining how we came to the current zeitgeist with its widespread unrest and distrust of elites.

    Curtis goes off on a lot of tangents with can be a fun ride and also frustrating at times. For an example of the latter, he discusses the US crack epidemic and the conspiracy surrounding it but never mentions Gary Webb’s reporting and then drops the subject completely. But he is not trying to give a detailed account of history and paints with a very broad brush – much more van Gogh than van Eyck.

    Two aspects I particularly enjoyed were his treatment of the Chinese history and Russiagate. He spends a lot of time on the last 80 years or so of Chinese history which the Western media doesn’t cover much, and his treatment of Mao’s wife Jiang Qing was really fascinating. She comes off a a communist version of Ayn Rand. He spends far less time on Russiagate and only mentions it in the last 20 minutes or so of the series, but makes it pretty clear that it’s BS. I also liked the way he discussed ‘conspiracy theories’ in general, tries to sort the real from the fabricated, and points out how they can become intertwined.

    Overall, I’d very much recommend it.

    Reply
    1. Michaelmas

      Halcyon: I enjoy Adam Curtis for the entertainment value

      Yup. I scanned quickly through all six Adam Curtis’s ‘Can’t Get You Out of My Head’ last night and have mixed feelings about it. I guess my conclusion is, just watch episode 6 if you know any history at all.

      Overall, what Curtis is doing is worthwhile. But what he’s doing is impressionistic, television-sized History-Lite for the masses of folks who are clueless — but believe themselves informed, having been indoctrinated by the official version — about real history and how we got where we are now.

      If you actually know much about the specifics of the lives and thought of the figures around whom Curtis riffs to construct his impressionistic histories, he’s often reductionist and simplistic to the point of being outright wrong.

      On the other hand, he’s doing television, and television makes everything television-sized. If I get annoyed because Curtis is egregiously simplistic about, say, Afeni Shakur or John von Neumann or Bo Xilai , I also have to ask myself how many regular people know anything at all — or would have had regular people-type reasons to learn about — Shakur or von Neumann or Bo.

      And overall I like where Curtis is going. If in the details he’s more often than not simplistic to the point of being wrong, in his big-picture conclusions he’s essentially right on..

      Reply
  23. ProNewerDeal

    Has there been empirical studies noting if having ACA insurance relative to being uninsured does to risk of medical bankruptcy, life expectancy, & severe medical illness or disability?

    Reply
  24. PS

    Florida may be a covid nightmare for some, but it’s probably less so for Florida parents whose children have been in school and tourism and hospitality workers who have not been unemployed for a year.

    Reply
    1. Zagonostra

      >There is a park near my house in Ft. Lauderdale, Mills Pond Park, that set up tents for CV19 testing on weekends. Every single time I went by I never saw anyone there. Maybe it was due to the open air environment or the heat (although it’s the best clime in the year to be here), or the time of the day I went. It was like a Potemkin village, very strange that you had what appeared to be a dozen tents and no humans around.

      My impression from being here for the winter is that people wear masks to conform, not because they’re fearful of the virus. I see many people eating in cafes, beaches and walking in the park mask-less.

      Reply
  25. Fedurperico

    ..Florida Is a COVID Nightmare…
    Florida has the fourth highest caseload in the nation! 1

    It’s the place that sick New Yorkers go to…Cuomo’s caseloads.

    1. Florida is also the nation’s fourth largest population.

    Reply
  26. Wukchumni

    Inventing the Non-Smoker London Review of Books
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    My longtime backpacking partner is a half a pack a day cigarette smoker and it has been interesting to watch the demonization of something that was once a most common thing (try and find a WW2 photo of a group of soldiers w/o somebody holding one) and frankly i’m glad as its a filthy habit, although his smoking doesn’t bother me all that much, he’s very good about not lighting up not so near me or others.

    Why haven’t we done similar measures in making fast food the enemy of the people’s best interests, it worked so well with tobacco?

    Reply
    1. RMO

      Well, I have yet to have had someone eating a BigMac take a handful of the chewed but not swallowed burger out of their mouths and cram it into my stomach via a funnel and tube, which is essentially what the smokers I knew were doing to my lungs back in the days when smoking indoors was common. So there’s that.

      I take this a bit personally because when my dad quit smoking in my late teens I stopped having migraines, my asthma almost completely disappeared and my seasonal allergies decreased immensely to the point that I only had to take antihistamines a couple of times a year as opposed to before when I endured days of being red, my eyes burning and being unable to breathe through my nose.

      Reply
  27. Jim

    Re: Harris poll about inability to get tested, we must push for mass, cheap, at-home rapid tests must be a part of the plan to get R below 1 and keep it there…i.e. to end the pandemic.

    You may wonder, why hasn’t this mass testing happened yet? The top FDA official overseeing testing, Jeffrey Shuren, is deeply conflicted: he is married to a lawyer, Allison Shuren, who “co-chairs the Life Sciences and Healthcare Regulatory practice” at her firm, and whose clients include “diagnostic testing facilities, clinical laboratories”.

    These clients are making a lot of money right now from COVID testing, and very publicly say these good times will continue for them even with the vaccine rollout:
    https://www.medtechdive.com/news/abbott-quidel-ramp-up-for-big-covid-19-testing-year-despite-rollout-of-vaccines/593366/

    A government-funded program for mass, cheap, at-home rapid tests would cost Allison Shuren’s clients a lot of money! It is her job, her professional responsibility, to protect those clients’ interests.

    Jeffrey Shuren oversees the approval of mass, cheap, at-home rapid tests: https://thehill.com/policy/healthcare/538349-biden-raises-hopes-for-new-course-to-jumpstart-rapid-covid-19-tests

    Allison Shuren, Jeffrey Shuren’s wife: https://www.arnoldporter.com/en/people/s/shuren-allison-w

    And now there are kids everywhere with MIS-C, multi-system inflammatory syndrome. The child profiled in this NY Times piece died while “bleeding from his mouth, eyes and nose”. Picture that.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/16/health/covid-children-inflammatory-syndrome.html

    Shuren has a conflict of interest, and kids are dying from bleeding through their mouths, eyes, and noses. Approve these tests and this can all end now. Vaccine rollout will be too slow and many people do not want to get vaccinated. Mass, cheap, at-home rapid tests must be a part of the plan to get R below 1 and keep it there.

    Talk about this conflict of interest. It’s an open fact. Share/publicize it widely. Jeffrey Shuren is conflicted, he should be removed and someone competent should approve these tests. This can all end within weeks.

    Reply
  28. Wukchumni

    Asked my buddy in Auckland how things are in light of their 3 Covid cases, and here’s his response:

    “Nothing much has changed here for most people except most shops aren’t open and we have to wear masks here and there (Government things like Post Offices). Most people in supermarkets do wear them but it’s optional (the staff don’t usually). We’re picking another week or two at level 3 – they’re announcing it tomorrow but they don’t seem to have got to the bottom of the latest so it’s hard to see how it could be lifted tomorrow night. I think people are resigned to not going overseas (although a customer told me she was going to Perth to live, flying out yesterday!). Apart from the weary inconvenience we’ve got off very lightly indeed.”

    Reply
  29. Pat

    Possible Covid Shenanigans anecdote.

    Friend had to get some dental work done. The dental office demanded a Covid test. They directed him to a nearby neighborhood commercial urgent care practice. To set up appointment for test they filled in about six pages of information (their estimate) and gave them their Medicare information. Got their negative test to have their dental work done, but then about a week later he got a bill for the test.

    He called and got it taken care of, but why the heck are they sending a bill to someone in their mid seventies. Well call me suspicious, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it was sent to him because he was in his seventies. All with the idea that some senior citizens might actually pay it, and Medicare, too. Maybe not, but far too possible.

    Yeah the commercialization of medicine has been a boon to the grifter class. And all too often it makes sense to look on it as a possible scam.

    Reply
    1. PS

      I think to a large degree the talk of X, Y, or Z never returning to pre-pandemic “normal” is because too money is being made on covid shenanigans and theater and make sure things they don’t go back to normal. The latest example I point to is pre-college summer courses that I’m looking at for my high school-age son. All of them in my area have gone virtual for the summer despite schools already re-opening. But guess what? They are all charging the SAME amount as previous years when they were in person, despite not having any of the physical logistics (room rentals, on-premise staff, etc.). I fear that this type of covid-induced laziness is going to pervade all sorts of corners of our lives.

      Reply
      1. lordkoos

        Just as the USA has never returned to pre 9/11 “normal” or pre 2008 “normal” — too many new opportunities for profit were opened up and there is no going back.

        Reply
  30. zagonostra

    >What McDonald’s Shows About The Minimum Wage – NPR

    The one big disappointment from Ashenfelter and Jurajda’s study is they’re unable to tell us much about the effects of minimum wages on employment, which is at the center of the debate about the policy.

    Which is the center of the reason I clicked on the headline…such disappointing journalism.

    https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2021/02/16/967333964/what-mcdonalds-shows-about-the-minimum-wage

    Reply
  31. Milton

    I like the Gorbachev kitty…
    As a life-long Californian, I find the urge to throw back to Texas a little schadenfreude during their deep-freeze power outage somewhat difficult to back away from. Memories of market-manipulated spikes in energy costs, while snot-nosed energy traders mockingly taunting “Burn baby burn” are forever burnished in my psyche. But I’ll try… Hopefully, a strong rescue package from the federal gov’t can help those in the state that are without power. I have little doubt that state leaders will do what needs to be done to help their own in the current crisis, provided they are given the add’l resources to do so.

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Apparently electricity that usually fetches $25 kwh went for $9k kwh yesterday in the Loan Star State (more pawn shops there than any other state i’ve been) so maybe Ken Lay is still alive?

      Reply
  32. Duck1

    RE: Heisenberg Report, “Trump isn’t a “former president.” He’s a democratically deposed pseudo-dictator. ”
    The column is pretty much in this vein. TDS is quickly morphing into “in search of the lost pseudo-authoritarian”. Lounging in his baronial digs with a commute to the golf course, the orange demon will continue to haunt the flawless mind of Jamie Raskin and company. “A disconcerting number of US lawmakers showed by their words and deeds over the past four years that they’re willing to acquiesce to soft autocratic rule. ” Make that the last forty years. Lest we forget our recent droner in chief whose Tuesday meetings proved he was a pretty good killer, even of our own citizens.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Jonathon Turley article about the impeachment Dems:

      In the 1946 movie “Gilda,” Rita Hayworth delivered perhaps the ultimate film noir line. Looking at her former lover, she declared, “I hate you so much that I would destroy myself to take you down with me.” Hayworth made self-destruction sound positively alluring. That line came to mind as I watched House impeachment managers and Democratic senators systematically discard basic values that once defined fair trials — and American values — under the Constitution.

      https://jonathanturley.org/2021/02/15/mutual-destruction-how-trumps-trial-became-a-tale-of-constitutional-noir/

      Reply
      1. Synoia

        Please do not overlook the possibility that the time wasting of Trump’s trial, with a guarantee of failure, was calculated and deliberate.

        To avoid other actions, such as $1,400 dispersed?

        Reply
        1. Alex

          Of course! And here’s a 9/11 style commission to drag it on even further. And I’m sure Heisenberg will have plenty of entertainingly shrill histrionics to share. Jeez, the guy reads like a Brian Williams monologue.
          I love how he jumps to the comforting conclusion that the Dems decided not to call witnesses because the outcome was known. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that the R’s would get to call witnesses too (Lady Nancy!).
          My favorite aspect of TDS is how it makes its victims take D politicians at their word. Endless fun with my parents…

          Reply
  33. Dr. John Carpenter

    RE: fake Amazon reviews, it seems like every few years a new panic pops up about fake on-line reviews for something. I remember it was films for a while, then videogames and before that eBay sellers. If a forum exists for user reviews, it’s going to be exploited. Yet big biz still puts so much stock in these things, even though they’ve long been shown to be vulnerable for pay-to-play.

    I’m with the cynical guy and I can’t believe anyone wouldn’t be. I read the reviews, but I would never accept them at face value. (And I suppose these articles are meant for me to feel some sort of sense of outrage or lack of fair play, but maybe because it’s Amazon we’re talking about, I just can’t get too worked up over it. It feels more like people figuring out a new side hustle in our side hustle economy and letting the system work for them.)

    Reply
  34. Basil Pesto

    was ‘Trumpism’ in practice substantially, materially different from the last 20 years of Fox News Republicanism?

    Trump is Trumpism. The man is sui generis. He is grimly abnormal, and implausibly capricious. He’s perhaps the most fascinating mediocrity that’s ever lived. He is a nonsense.

    My intuition remains that trying to make political ‘Trumpism’ a thing is a mug’s game, or more likely an exercise in classification that is in effect laying the foundation for future book deals. Look forward to years of lukewarm takes on Trumpism in the bargain bins at your local book store.

    Reply
  35. Wukchumni

    Like that Covid sniffing canine…

    When WW1 came around, dog owners in the UK couldn’t very well have a German Shepherd, so they renamed the breed ‘Alsatian’

    There’s a bunch of instances of that sort of renaming, Berlin, Ontario became Kitchener, Ontario, in the Gulag Hockeypelago.

    Reply
    1. pasha

      here in west michigan, the city of “berlin” became “marne” overnight!

      butthe state still has the city of “hell,” which froze over this weekend

      Reply
  36. WillyBgood

    Today was the start of my newest stint of unemployment, and the links seem almost made for me! NC is an addiction, or lets just say medicine. Thank you again for your tireless work in providing me with such succor and encouragement (OK, I realize a few other people enjoy it too)!

    Reply
    1. flora

      adding: I expect Bill Gates to talk his book. I didn’t expect CBS to make their financial conflict of interest so obvious. /heh

      Reply
  37. Susan the other

    Good link to a LeftEast (Hungary?) interview with Wolfgang Streeck on where socialism is headed in Europe. They discussed the rise of Merkel, how she is basically apolitical having come from the GDR, that her mentor was Helmut Kohl but she sent him off in disgrace over a small financial misbehavior with Schaeuble. She favored Schroeder for his modernism and his openness toward Russia. Interesting. She was always agile and not welded to any ideology. Which is good because the CDU is now a party without a cause and if Germany is no longer the EU hegemon then neoliberal rule will be up for grabs. The idea he left me with is that the socialists in the GDR were monolithic so there were no inter-party politics; only intra-party and I’m wondering how that differs with our politics as we are literally one monolithic party pretending to be two and we’ve got so much intra-politics going on it’s head-spinning, no? The most interesting thing Streeck said was that he prefers nationalism or national sovereignty to imperialism any day. So he’s OK with German nationalism as long as it does not become imperialistic. Which it almost is. Streeck prefers the Scandinavian Alliance model of cooperation because it is more grass roots via equality and democracy. I especially liked the way he plainly stated that neoliberalism and globalism are the enemy of sovereignty and therefore he is in favor of national sovereignty to fight it. And he seems to think that socialist international solidarity can co-exist with national sovereignty if labor rights and environmental rights are protected. So that’s a refreshing new twist. The EU is going to be a “transfer union” dispensing money as necessary to its members without a plan to pay it back. This demonstrates the intra-politics of the EU – they can’t ding each other too much or the union will fall apart – a disaster since for Germany the euro is so undervalued it benefits an exporter while it is expensive for Italy. (All the stuff we talked about several years ago is leading the EU closer to MMT.) Streeck said, “Solidarity and internationalism are important but if they are vested in international markets and imperial organizations it (internationalism) will be by neoliberal-imperial rule.” Which sounds a lot like YV’s latest thinking. Good link.

    Reply

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