Links 2/3/2021

Roadsides too noisy for birds to think, crickets to mate Agence France Presse

Amazon’s Jeff Bezos to step aside as chief executive this year FT (letter to employeers). Over-under on when Bezos seeks treatment for his memory problems? (Presenting symptoms: Inability to remember which of his 23 bathrooms he is currently using, persistent repetition of the phrase “I dan’t recall.”)

How new Amazon CEO Andy Jassy built an enterprise tech juggernaut Protocol

Big Tech is so big it doesn’t need its founders anymore Recode

Elon Musk’s banter with Robinhood CEO triggers stampede for Clubhouse app Channel News Asia. Certainly a healthy sign….

‘Let them trade’: Washington struggles with Robinhood politics FT

Google co-founder Sergey Brin’s family office to open in Singapore Straits Times

Microsoft backs Australia’s pay-for-news plan, risks massive blowback over a lousy $3bn and change The Register

Kia Motors Shares Jump After Report Apple to Invest $3.6 Billion Bloomberg. EV stans rejoice!


An ultrapotent synthetic nanobody neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by stabilizing inactive Spike Science (house organ write-up). From the Abstract: “By screening a yeast surface-displayed library of synthetic nanobody sequences, we developed nanobodies that disrupt the interaction between Spike and ACE2. Cryo–electron microscopy (cryo-EM) revealed that one nanobody, Nb6, binds Spike in a fully inactive conformation with its receptor binding domains locked into their inaccessible down state, incapable of binding ACE2. Affinity maturation and structure-guided design of multivalency yielded a trivalent nanobody, mNb6-tri, with femtomolar affinity for Spike and picomolar neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 infection. mNb6-tri retains function after aerosolization, lyophilization, and heat treatment, which enables aerosol-mediated delivery of this potent neutralizer directly to the airway epithelia.” IOW, sprays. From December 2020, still germane even if in vitro. As readers know, I am long sprays (not really, because I don’t play the ponies). Quite an impressive number of co-authors in Science.

* * *

Comparing the Covid-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson STAT

What went wrong with America’s $44 million vaccine data system? MIT Technology Review. Yet another CDC debacle.

Last-Mile Logistics of Covid Vaccination — The Role of Health Care Organizations NEJM

If You’ve Been Working from Home, Please Wait for Your Vaccine Scientific American

The Sputnik V Vaccine and Russia’s Race to Immunity The New Yorker

Russia’s COVID-19 Vaccine 91.6% Effective, Studies Show MedScape

Just 5 percent of vaccinations have gone to Black Americans, despite equity efforts Politico

Companies and foreign countries vying for your DNA CBS


How Cartier Won China’s Social Media Jing Daily

Anti-coup protests ring out in Myanmar’s main city Reuters. As here:

I would guess these apartment blocks are in a relatively affluent part of Yangon, however. Adding to the surreal air:

(See the whole thread for authenticity issues, resolved.)

What the Myanmar Coup Means for China The Diplomat

Burma’s Coup and Biden’s Choice WSJ

A hard task made harder: UN rights expert Tom Andrews on Myanmar coup Southeast Asia Globe_

The Koreas

South Korea Leads World in Innovation; U.S. Drops Out of Top 10 Bloomberg. They must not be taking financial innovation into account.

Water crisis: Estate owned by Auckland rich-listers controls more water from Waikato River than city itself New Zealand Herald


India farmer protests: ‘War-like fortification’ to protect Delhi BBC

Farmers’ protest live updates: Govt issues notice to Twitter to remove content Times of India

Why Indian farmers are so angry about the Modi government’s agricultural reforms The Conversation

The dead professor and the vast pro-India disinformation campaign BBC

India rivals China in Covid-19 vaccine diplomacy with million doses for South Africa South China Morning Post


Angela Merkel says ‘every vaccine is welcome’ after Sputnik V results Deutsche Welle

The vaccines, the Commission and the NI Protocol: What went wrong? RTE

Italy calls on ‘Super Mario’ as political crisis deepens FT

Euro zone fourth-quarter GDP falls less than expected, another fall seen in first-quarter Reuters

State Capture Commission to lay criminal complaint against Jacob Zuma Daily Maverick. “State Capture Commission”?


Is an Israeli air strike on Iran imminent? – TTG Sic Semper Tyrannis

Clouds gather over Google’s Saudi deal Coda

All Eyes on Ecuador: Presidential Elections Could Bring Back the Citizens’ Revolution Council on Hemispheric Affairs. Quelle horreur!

The Pendulum of Venezuela’s Opposition: Submission or Political Participation? Venezuelanalysis

New Cold War

What Putin nemesis Alexei Navalny is, and what he is not Responsible Statecraft

Russia extends key New START nuclear treaty Deutsche Welle

Capitol Seizure

Bidens pay their respects to Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick as officer lies in honor at Capitol CNN

Intelligence Community

The CIA Fine-Tunes Its Hiring Pitch to Millennials and Gen Z WSJ. With dog-training tips…..

Biden Transition

Democrats plow ahead with a party-line Covid relief package Politico

Dems Threaten To Exclude Families Crushed By Pandemic Andrew Perez, Daily Poster. I just wish somebody would love me like liberal Democrats love means-testing…..

Plus ça change….

The nuclear triad is not sacred Defense News

How the Biden Administration Can Help Solve Our Reality Crisis NYT. “Several experts I spoke with recommended that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a ‘reality czar.'” I nominate James Clapper! This could be his first case:

Pseudoscientific beliefs and psychopathological risks increase after COVID-19 social quarantine Global Health (pq). From July 2020, still germane.


How to stop Russia from recruiting the next Trump MSNBC. “Imagine if we imposed some type of barrier to the Oval Office in the form of an FBI background investigation. At that point, a bunch of bureaucrats, not the American voters, would decide who could or could not become a senator or a president. No one wants that.” Oh?

Black Injustice Tipping Point

The Lesson Of The BLM Protests: Notes From The Edge Of The Narrative Matrix Caitlin Johnstone

Activists wary of broader law enforcement after Capitol riot Associated Press

Class Warfare

Association Between County-Level Change in Economic Prosperity and Change in Cardiovascular Mortality Among Middle-aged US Adults JAMA (IM). From the Abstract: “In this retrospective analysis of county-level mortality data from 3123 US counties from 2010 to 2017, every 10-point greater change in economic prosperity from baseline to follow-up (range, 5 to 92) was significantly associated with a 0.4% lower cardiovascular mortality rate per year among middle-aged adults.”

How Poverty Makes Workers Less Productive NPR

“We have been disrespected at the table and the Board of Education won’t bargain.” Interview with Kenzo Shibata of CTU. Strike Wave

Our Oligarchs’ Crisis Of Confidence The American Conservative

Internet blackouts skyrocket amid global political unrest Axios

The Science of Reasoning With Unreasonable People NYT. How many psychiatrists does it take to change a light bulb?. One. But the lightbulb has to want to be changed.d

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


  1. vlade

    I really like the Navalny post from Responsible Statecraft. It’s a first even-handed one.

    Navalny is, first and foremost, a Russian. Yes, he’d be different from Putin, but he’d look after Russia’s interests first too, as he saw them.

    Wasn’t Putin feted by the West at some stage as “finally someone who brings stability to Russia”?

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        Putin would do well to groom some successor. Even someone who had some contrary views to his own. He’s (probably) smart enought to realize this. Playing the game that the Anglo-Americans are playing, a fake out like allowing an opponent to win against him in an election is probably a good move. It causes a snarl in western propaganda. Really what the folks at Chatham House/Atlantic Council want is another Yeltsin.

        1. Grateful Dude

          In a Mikhail Khodorkovsky interview a couple of years ago that I can’t find right now, MK claimed that Putin is controlled by Russian Oligarchs and gangsters – some are both – who won’t let him retire until they have someone to replace him who’s as loyal (read criminal..) and good at wielding power.

          1. Anonymous 2

            Catherine Belton (essential reading where Russia is concerned IMO) argues that Putin is at the head of a group of former KGB, mob and others. Like all capo di tutti capi, it is probably difficult for him to stand down and as you say the group (which must refresh itself over time) will not want that to happen until they have a suitable successor.

            The group is said to have $800 bn. at their disposal – quite a slush fund. No wonder they can frighten and influence people.

            1. pjay

              I would strongly recommend that you expand your essential reading list on Russia. While I have not read Belton’s book, I have read a lot about it — enough to know that it is about as biased an interpretation of Putin and post-Soviet history as could be. That’s probably why it is getting such great press (Luke Harding loves it).

              To Grateful Dude: though Khodorkovsky would know about Russian oligarchs and gangsters, I don’t think he is exactly an objective source. He is one of the corrupt oligarchs who fell out with Putin, now safely (and lucratively) situated in the capitalist West where is is a celebrated Putin/Russia basher — I mean “expert.” He is also the type of source from which Belton develops her account of the KGB plot to take over the world.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, this is a good lesson. But the article did skate over some of the less pleasant aspects of Navalny’s views, such as his video on shooting muslim ‘cockroaches’.

      Incidentally, the article also mentions Aung Sang Suu Kyi as an example, but it overlooks that plenty of people were aware of her less pleasant side (even a cursory search on her family history would show that her father was an open admirer of European and Japanese fascism), but there was a logic to overlooking this – she was clearly the figurehead of opposition to the military and there was no question but that the ordinary people supported her. But Navalny seems a fringe figure who just shouts louder than the other, there is far less justification for considering him a viable alternative to Putin.

      1. Wukchumni

        I don’t know much about Navalny other than he’s photogenic-one of those people whose Kodak moments always come out good, and looks loom large in the west and punch way above substance. I feel certain he won’t lack for penpals in the calaboose.

      2. vlade

        Well, Putin worked hard and well on making sure just about anyone is a fringe figure (it’s not even clear who is the sucessor, and I suspect he likes to keep it that way).

        But yes, Navalny’s very likely not to be important in Russia’s politics – unless Putin decides for some reason to make him so

    2. The Rev Kev

      Alexei Navalny wants you to know that his movement is purely a Russian-based one that only expresses the wishes of the Russian people to have a corruption-free government. Run by him.

      Alexei Navalny also wants you to ignore the foreign diplomats that were sitting in the courtroom during his conviction as this was in no way evidence of foreign meddling, no matter what Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova was saying.

        1. pjay

          Thank you for posting this. Helmer’s depiction of Navalny, and Putin’s relationship to the oligarchy, strikes me as much more accurate than the Quincy Institute version, which to me overstates Putin’s power and understates the degree to which Navalny is *obviously* a Western asset. From Helmer:

          [Back in 2008] “It was plain Navalny was fronting for others. But his campaign for transparency and accountability in Russia’s most important line of business was running in parallel with my reporting. The veracity of the message was what counted, not the character of the messenger, or the calculation of the messenger’s paymaster. It was therefore Navalny’s message I quoted directly…”

          “A decade later in 2018, when Navalny published his evidence of the link between the aluminium oligarch Oleg Deripaska and the Kremlin official Sergei Prikhodko, our effort at investigating the truth was still running in parallel, and I reported accordingly…”

          “A year ago in March 2020, when Navalny published his investigation of the abuse of state money in the operation of the RT media organisation, he was late by more than a decade…” [i.e. he corroborated Helmer’s own expose of a decade ago]

          Then Helmer’s punchline:

          “Since last August Navalny’s Novichok story is evidence that the truth of his anti-corruption research has been replaced by lies in the service of an attempt to seize presidential power. He is still fronting for his paymasters, but now his lies are aimed with an entirely different purpose.”

          The Lieven article, like the Quincy Institute itself, purports to provide a realist analysis, and indeed they are much better than the usual Establishment and media cartoon propaganda. But they can only go so far, given their own ideological orientation. For a much *more* realist assessment, I recommend Helmer’s piece.

        2. Maxwell Johnston

          That post by Helmer is excellent. He notes correctly that the relationship between VVP and the oligarchs is complex. VVP can take out one oligarch at a time, but he cannot take them all out collectively; life ain’t so simple. The notion of VVP as an all-powerful tsar (whether evil or good) is appealing but unrealistic. Russia is a complicated place with a long history. As for Navalny; well, his attorneys have filed an appeal (obviously) so let’s see what happens. Lots of moving parts here; just to give two examples from December, Russia’s Duma hastily passed a law giving total lifetime immunity to ex-presidents and family members (umm…..why was this done with such urgency?….), and Anatoly Chubais (the Western privatizeer par excellence) was removed from his long-standing perch at Rosnano. Again, why now? And I still don’t understand why the Russian authorities came down like a ton of bricks on Navalny this time, given that this palace has been public knowledge for many years. I suspect that something is going on beneath the surface, and we won’t find out for a while.

      1. km

        Also, the fact that the US embassy was publishing protest maps on its website was no doubt pure coincidence and should not be taken as an admission that the United States believes that Navalny would be a suitably pliant puppet.

    3. km

      “Wasn’t Putin feted by the West at some stage as “finally someone who brings stability to Russia”?”

      Sort of. When V.V. Putin first was appointed to office in 1998, Russia was in a state of collapse, with entire regions ignoring laws passed by the central government and refusing to turn over tax revenues.

      Putin was thought of at the time as a dull, colorless non-entity, appointed mainly because his predecessor, S.V. Stepashin, was seen as more competent and energetic than B.N. Yeltsin. The desired outcome from the western perspective was that Russia would not in fact disintegrate, but remain feeble, disorganized and supine.

      Putin turned out to be much better at his job than anyone would have predicted. Yeltsin soon resigned to make way for Putin, who became wildly and genuinely popular.

      1. Jon Cloke

        Exactly so – anyone who saw the wild drops in life expectancy for Russian men and women in the 1990s as all that EU/IMF ‘aid’ disappeared oversees into the offshore accounts of oligarchs would have to be frigging bonkers to think Russia would welcome that kind of ‘aid’ again…

    4. kgw

      Navany is the “Guaido” of Russia….”as he saw them,” says it all: he wants to start where Yeltsin left off.

    5. km

      Keep in mind how the United States and western media held up an obvious grifter and fraud like Ahmed Chalabi as The Choice Of The Iraqi People And Savior Of Democracy In Iraq.

      Of course, once the Baathist government was toppled, the people of Iraq looked at Chalabi as if they were being asked to vote for a wet turd. At the same time, Chalabi turned out all the while to be working for the principal beneficiary of the War on Iraq, that is, Iran.

        1. pjay

          Your link didn’t work for me, so I’m not sure whether you are referring to this guy:

          But there are certainly plenty of Makiya wannabes around with regard to Russia. They may never achieve power in Russia itself, but there are lots of book deals, TV interviews, academic positions, and State Department jobs to be had.

  2. zagonostra

    >How Poverty Makes Workers Less Productive – NPR

    Princeton psychologist Eldar Shafir. Poverty, they find, is like a parasite, consuming mental energy that could be put to more beneficial use…The authors conclude that giving workers cash upfront helped alleviate the mental burden of their financial problems and freed them to be more productive

    Planet Money -THE ECONOMY EXPLAINED. My, my, I haven’t visited this sector of the alternative universe in years, since I stopped listening to NPR news. I can still hear echoes of the irritating, puerile sounding narrator’s voice. I even remember them interviewing a “sociologist” with a heavy accent on the relationship between social psychological observations and economics. And of course, I can’t forget the simplified, dumbed down allegories/analogies the show used in order to make economics entertaining and “fun.”

    This is just the kind of headlines that makes my head spin. The rational for providing an economic environment where people displaced by economic shifts leading to precarity would best be given some financial help to make them be more productive. Not that it’s a moral imperative that any country with the means would do to alleviate her citizenry and create civilization that values truth, beauty, and seeks virtue over vice, no that wouldn’t do.

    The “parasite” that comes to mind is the economic system that Michael Hudson writes about in Killing The Host but Planet Money and NPR is not interested in that kind of economics, the planet they inhabit and find comforting is Planet Hollywood.

    1. John A

      Not to mention that people in poverty tend to not eat enough, or eat less nutritious food because of what is available to them, and therefore will be in less good health and less able to concentrate and therefore they are bound to be less productive.

    2. Charger01

      Good comment. I recall when Adam Davidson (former Planet Money host and punching bag) ambushed Elizabeth Warren back in 2009, attempting a bizarre line of questioning to pin Warren on an obscure detail of the financial crisis. I can only imagine that Davidson imbibed the TBTF absinthe prior and started to imitate Jim Cramer during a very sedate interview.
      Glad to see that NPR has improved slightly.

  3. John A

    Re: How to stop Russia from recruiting the next Trump
    “But there are measures we can and should demand, now that we’ve experienced our first president who personified a national security threat. The Fordham University School of Law issued a proposal in January 2020 that represents an excellent start. At minimum, we should see mandatory public disclosures of tax records, debt, property ownership, business holdings, international travel history, serious health issues [my bolding], and any foreign interests of the candidate and immediate family to be collected and disseminated by the Federal Election Commission.”

    I imagine that would have ruled FDR out then? But then again, the establishment was against him, I understand.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Excellent point about FDR. Yes, of course he would have been disqualified under such a regime. But I imagine that Biden with his encroaching senility would have been given a clear pass because of course he would. I suppose that they would be thinking of having the FBI “vetting” any Presidential candidates. And if you can’t trust the security establishment, who can you trust?

      Seriously can’t believe that people think that Trump was a Manchurian President. When he announced his candidacy, people thought of him as a joke candidate. Comedians had a field day and even Hillary wanted him to be her opponent. He mopped the floor with the other Republican candidates as they were as bad if not worse than him and he won the Presidency as too many despised Hillary more than him. If the Russkies foresaw all this decades ago then it is game over man. They already won.

            1. jsn

              Come on man, you don’t want leaders who will lead, you want leaders who will take your orders!

              Young, healthy, dynamic, diverse, Harris, Butigieg!

              The oligarchy want’s a stylish figurehead.

    2. timbers

      “How to stop Russia from recruiting the next Trump”

      They must have meant Israel. Only way the article makes any sense at all.

      1. Alex

        “How to stop Russia from recruiting the next Trump”

        How about “continue to live in the universe that actually exists”?

    3. GramSci

      Figliuzzi writes that in his book,

      “Similarly, I describe sitting down with a second-tier presidential candidate and discussing the FBI’s awareness of their clandestine meetings with foreign intelligence officers.”

      Does anybody know who that, presumably third party, candidate was? And how is a “second-tier candidate” to protect herself against the threat of the FBI releasing top-secret insinuations against her?

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        I remember figliuzzi from back in the day when I actually watched msnbs. It was so sad to watch his descent into chronic, degenerative TDS wasting disease in real time.

        Still, it’s a ballsy move to base an “opinion” on Trump’s 1977 wedding to a Czech model, and the 40-year-old “recollections” of a Russian “Curveball” called Shvets, while ignoring the hunter biden laptop that’s right in front of his frickin’ face.

        1. Procopius

          The thing that seems to be overlooked with the Bidens and Burisma, they didn’t have to do anything illegal; or even obviously corrupt (other than taking the money for nothing). The whole point of hiring Hunter was to demonstrate to other players in Ukraine that Burisma was connected to powerful people. Biden proved to the Ukrainians that he had power over them with the full backing of The Oligarchy (our oligarchs, that is). After that, Burisma (I keep forgetting the name of that particular oligarch) could just say, “Look, his son is on our board. Do you think we could get him to take a hard look at you?” No actual action required — the power is in the threat. “Well, we’ve done nothing wrong. What can he do to us?” “You idiot! They make their own reality.”

    4. km

      If there were any truth to the russiagate conspiracy theory, you would think that a sly superintellect like Putin would have enough sense to groom a patsy who looks and sounds too good to be true, a handsome successful self-made businessman who says all the right things on the campaign trail, adoring wife and pack of well-scrubbed kidlets in tow, but a patsy who reserves his true passions for ten-year old Polynesians of either sex.

      There’s no point in a patsy who has more publicly visible baggage than a camel caravan, an obese doofus with a bad combover who can’t even be embarrassed by pu$$ygate or by being caught raw dogging Stormy Daniels, because everyone already knows, that’s just how Trump rolls.

      The real point of the article isn’t to “stop Russia”, as if “Russia” can’t read the law. That’s a ruse.

      The real point is to make sure that nobody in the mold of Trump is never elected again, even if the public votes for him. The author can’t come out and say that “democracy is good, but only sometimes, and then only if the people pick candidates that we PMC experts approve of”, so the author has to recite dog-ate-my-homework stories about Russia.

    5. lyman alpha blob

      Does the article list ‘Fomenting a coup and installing the US puppet Navalny as leader of Russia’ as an option?

  4. Wukchumni

    The pot banging video could’ve been in Buenos Aries 20 years ago when they began another ascent into financial Hades, as the Peso went from par with the almighty buck to present day. (now worth 1/100th of a $)

    I suspect we’d smoke a bong of pot as our response if a similar scenario played out here…

    I have a friend who was a travel agent (I know, how quaint~) in the 60’s and 70’s with a penchant for going to places most Americans feared to trod, and he went to Burma in the early 70’s and had been tipped off what to do, in that he was to have a carton of 555 cigarettes and a bottle of Johnny Walker Red (not black!) when he arrived in Rangoon and caught a taxi into town, and do a deal in the confines of the cab with the driver for Burmese currency, as it was a ‘safe house’ of sorts. He made sure the driver saw his goods and although the language barrier was insurmountable, the right consumer items made up for the lack of lingua franca, and a deal was duly struck and he spent a week there for about $20.

    He was one of the last Americans to ever do an overland trip from India to Turkey in 1978, passing through Afghanistan & Iran along the way, and some years ago did a slideshow for friends of his trip.

    I’m nearly 20 years younger, and he was quite the inspiration for me, and I was lucky enough to do a number of trips with him over the years. It made me somewhat less of an innocent abroad.

  5. Wukchumni

    As imposing and impressive as the landscape at Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is, more than a few visitors relish their stops in the park because of the fruit orchards there, which long have sustained varieties lost to the marketplace. But even those orchards can be lost, which is why the park staff is proposing a replanting project for some of the orchards.

    Back in the 1880s when they moved into this part of Utah, Mormon families quickly nurtured orchards that provided produce they earned a living from by selling it to neighboring communities.

    Ahh, but not all varieties vanished, at least not from Capitol Reef. More than two dozen varieties grow today in this red-rock landscape that’s watered by the Fremont River and its tributaries. Some, such as the Jonathans, McIntoshes, Winesaps, Red Delicious, and Granny Smiths, still can be found in a well-stocked grocery. But where else might you find a display of Ben Davis, aka “Mortgage Lifter,” a variety that can be traced to Virginia in 1799; or Grimes Golden, which dates back to 1804 in West Virginia; or the Red Astrachan, which is thought to have roots extending back “several centuries” to the banks of the Volga River in Russia?

    The orchards of the Fruita Rural Historic District are one of the largest in the U.S. National Park System and are significant to the park’s history and cultural heritage. They provide valuable fruit harvest and educational opportunities that can be enjoyed by all visitors. Several orchards have lost most of their original trees and with continued losses expected, replanting is needed to maintain their historic integrity.

    “Many orchards are in decline due to old age, disease, and other factors. It is essential to begin sustained replanting of park orchards to maintain the integrity of the Fruita historic landscape” says park Horticulturist Fritz Maslan.
    Capitol Reef NP is the pretty girl next door compared to Zion, Bryce, Arches & Canyonlands NP’s being ravishing supermodels, and I was pleasantly surprised by it the first time driving through, having no expectations. It seemed to me like an upraised Death Valley on steroids and had obviously been working out a lot, as it was fairly ripped. The orchards there made me smile, as the terra firma doesn’t really seem suited for the production of fruit, but there you have it.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that apple report, Wuk. I always find them of interest and I think that I know why. Those trees are the living legacy of the families that lived there. They were part of their lives and though their descendants may live in L.A. or San Francisco, there are living reminders of where their families lived. Actually more so when you talked about the origins of some of those trees. You wonder if they came as seeds in the wagons or came aboard the transcontinental railroad in the packs of the emigrants that left the east coast and moved out west.

      1. Wukchumni

        We have a 5 year old Red Astrachan and it’s an early apple ripening in July that so far tastes like you are biting into applesauce. This might be on account of the 100 days of 100 degrees here, an absence of malus notwithstanding.

        1. Wukchumni


          Those trees in Capitol Reef are all grafted trees, but seeing as the main use for apples before prohibition was hooch (not so much in Utah) a good many apple trees came from seed, which makes them not so edible-but drinkable.

          They call them ‘spitters’ as you take one bite, and it made for great expectorations

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          out here, in the northwest texas hill country, it’s Kiefer Pears.
          ancient trees in odd places…and many still produce.
          there’s one in the pasture to my south(absentee owner is mean, and harbors a flock of coyotes—won’t allow anyone on his place to tackle it)
          I can see it from my kitchen…blooms gloriously in spring, but only produces 1 out of every ten years or so.
          been meaning to do a stealth raid for cuttings for years, but never get around to it.
          the pear tree at wife’s family place in town, oth, produces every year(whole barrio used to be a pig farm). I have 5 out of 20 cuttings that made it through the rooting and are about as tall as i am, now(apparently slow growing,lol)
          there’s also various medicinal herbs that obviously escaped from some pioneer wife’s kitchen garden…horehound, especially, has taken to this area.
          and roaming these ranches, you can always tell where a house used to be(aside from the scattering of squarish stones) by the random trailing rose.

    2. James O'Keefe

      Thanks for the info Wukchumni. Capitol Reef National Park is on my list. Hopefully I’ll get a change to visit there sometime.

      I remember all the different apple varieties we were able to try at a farm stand the last time I visited Vernal, Utah. Quite delicious.

  6. vlade

    Indeed – although it’s interesting the regime decided to clamp down on the protests so hard this time (the previous were mostly quietly ignored).

    That may yet backfire, although it’s still highly unlikely.

  7. Alex Morfesis

    Kremlin reports Sputnik vaccine is absolutely 140% affective…in other news, over the weekend Bagdad Bob was seen leavening the skotchi residence of generelisimo Phrancisco pootyn…and a video of Ultisimo Caballo, Fidel, appeared on Havana 1 television this morning, imploring his people to ignore the body bags and assuring everyone there is no Covid and it is simply a kapitalist propaganda game…

    1. SKM

      The Lancet has seen the Sputnik data and confirms great results. I for one am thrilled at the news after all the snide reporting – cos it`s Russian it can`t be trusted etc etc. I`ve been sick of the Astrazeneca mucked up trials and confusing communication. The French have joined the Germans in approving it only for under 65s because of lack of data for gthe older group. They are right to do this even if I imagine that once all the data is in AND they sort out the dosing (probaly half dose for first shot) that AZ will be fine for all.
      Re Cuba – they have excellent medical cover – very high patient to Dr ratios. They have under 500 deaths and there is no reason to doubt this figure. They look after people early in the disease (viral phase) when it matters for avoiding bad outcomes. This has had press coverage outside the US/EU/UK, anti- anyone not uber-neolib, also we here (in Italy) have a strong tie to Cuba and news from on the ground that confirms the above. They are working on several vaccines and I think have one in phase 3 trials (?Iran – o dear, another enemy!) Had there been mass graves etc in Cuba you could be sure there would have been massive coverage in the Western press.

      1. RMO

        Unfortunately no matter how good it is and no matter how far our vaccination plan here in Canada is delayed by supply problems I’m sure there’s no way the Sputnik vaccine will be an option because of where it came from.

        Further down ReKev asks “who cares who developed it as long as it works” Well, I’m not going to be surprised if in many places the choice comes down to saving people while giving Russia credit or letting them wait, and possible contracting Covid to keep up the perpetual Russia hate. I’m not confident the former will be the choice.

  8. Ahinsa

    Indian democracy is facing an existential crisis. Modi is governing by fiat. Opposition is not tolerated and is suppressed by brute force. If the force is not being exerted through the police and paramilitary forces, then it is by the increasingly violent army of “brown shirts” or should I say RSS “shorts”. The RSS is an ultranationalist organization whose adherents were responsible for Gandhi’s assassination and who are identified by the shorts they wear and the sticks they carry. People are afraid to voice dissent for fear of having to deal with these mob-led vigilantes. Several journalists and writers have been murdered. Media has been largely captured. Policies are increasingly neoliberal. State assets are being sold to finance large deficits. People no longer trust the electronic ballot. Viable political opposition no longer exists as many of the leaders have been purchased by Modi’s party. Laws that permit opaque contributions to political parties have been passed, and there is a flood of unaccounted money that has corrupted completely a system that was smothering with graft. Jobs are few. Religious priorities are dictating government policy. Every quarter I visit India, I see a failing state inching towards a precipice. The labor strike, the farmers agitation, these are just some of the symptoms of a society with deep malaise that is about to explode. I salute the farmers who are trying hard to correct an injustice – a law passed by a voice vote in the upper house of the legislature, where the government was in minority. They truly deserve better

    1. nothing but the truth

      the (mainly punjabi) farmers want to have their cake, eat it, get paid for it, get free electricity, free water, pay no taxes for anything either, get fixed support prices for insecticide laden produce, damage the land, draw down the water table, burn crops and destroy air.

      i have sympathy for the problems they face – most are subsistence farmers, but they have to understand they have been dead spoilt as the “saint farmer” since the days of MK Gandhi. These folks pay no tax, get a huge amount of subsidy and freebies. There’s only so much the rest can do for them.

      They have to move out of the wheat/rice/govt support price trap and produce crops that that society wants and needs. And cause less air, water pollution, use less water, cause less land damage.

      As to the rest of the violence – the left only sees violence when it is on the receiving end, Leftists have dominated indian academia, press and bureaucracy since independence. Now they are being edged out – although far too slowly, and complaints are natural. A lot of this is the whatsapp effect. Too much (fake) news.

      1. The Historian

        I’m a little confused reading your post, so perhaps you can explain?

        You say that most of these farmers are ‘subsistence’ farmers – even with all the freebies you claim they get? So how is paying more taxes, and not getting all the ‘freebies’ you claim they get going to help them not be subsistence farmers? Seems to me by the definition of being a subsistence farmer, subsistence farmers are already at the bottom edge of economic security – surviving only because they have a little land. Does paying more make someone who is already living an extremely precarious life richer?

        And subsistence farmers grow food mostly for their own needs and what little they can sell locally – how would forcing them to produce crops for market help them survive? So they grow crops for market – what do they live on? It isn’t like they have so much land that they can allocate a certain amount for commercial crops and a certain amount for their own use, is it?

        And are you saying subsistence farming is more ecologically damaging than large corporate farms? Do you think subsistence farmers use more fuel for their tractors, more electricity for irrigation, and spray their crops with more damaging chemicals than large corporate farms? I have never seen that to be the case, but perhaps you’ve seen something different.

        Doesn’t what you’ve described about subsistence farmers sound like someone is trying to force them off their land by making them pay more than they can afford and making them produce crops that they aren’t supposed to eat themselves? Who gets that land if they are forced to sell? And if they are forced off their land, where do they go?

        1. Procopius

          Every point you make is correct, and yet that, essentially, is what Thai farmers started doing in the early nineteenth century. I don’t know how they did it, but they converted from subsistence farming to market farming (mostly for export), and today the term “subsistence farmer” mostly means “poor farmer.” I don’t think any farmer in Thailand today, even those participating in the royally supported “Sufficiency Economy,” actually grows stuff only for their own consumption. I’ve never been to India, so I don’t know what the situation there is like.

        2. nothing but the truth

          a large number of farmers in india are subsistence – or close to it – farmers.

          the ones protesting are not – a poor farmer cannot afford to camp out hundreds of kilometers away for months. who will take care of his crops?

          the govt should have been less conspiratorial in passing the law and given time for them to absorb the new system – but regardless of that there is an ecological and economic reality – farmers in north west india need to move away from the wheat/rice plan guaranteed by the govt. India has far too much wheat/rice and not enough lentils and oilseeds (which it is importing) – the other staples that do less damage to the environment.

          the fear of the farmers is really fear of the future. As a wage slave myself i sympathize with them and they should negotiate with the govt while they can to ensure legal protections for illiterate farmers against corporate lawyers ( they should form cooperatives to market their produce – but that quickly becomes a political take over target in India).

    2. km

      I would say that Modi’s economic measures (demonetization) have proved disastrous and India hasn’t exactly proven a winner in flexing its military muscle against China so far. Then there’s the COVID.

      Hindutva is the only card left for the RSS to play, and it is sort of their reason for existence. Something like the Jim Crow era South.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > The RSS is an ultranationalist organization whose adherents were responsible for Gandhi’s assassination and who are identified by the shorts they wear and the sticks they carry.

      P.G. Wodehouse, The Code of the Woosters:

      “The trouble with you, Spode, is that just because you have succeeded in inducing a handful of half-wits to disfigure the London scene by going about in black shorts, you think you’re someone. You hear them shouting “Heil, Spode!” and you imagine it is the Voice of the People. That is where you make your bloomer. What the Voice of the People is saying is: “Look at that frightful ass Spode swanking about in footer bags! Did you ever in your puff see such a perfect perisher?”

      Sadly, no….

      1. JBird4049

        Wodenhouse is good humor. I think I have one or two books around here. I could used some humor.

        Anyone thinking that we might have the return of the Silver Shirts of the Silver Legion? Interesting fascist organization that was based out of Los Angeles until it was suppressed in 1941. Or the American Bund? It was effectively the American wing of the Nazi Party. IIRC also disbanded at the same time.

        I don’t mean the a resurrection, but the creation of organizations that have the same… flavor?

        The Ku Klux Klan, the No-Nothings (1850s), the American Nazis, the Silver Shirts, the German-American Bund, the Southern Democratic Party (Yes, really. From 1870 to perhaps the 1970s when Nixon’s Southern Strategy started to sent the racists to the Republicans). I guess I could add the John Birch Society. These are just right off the top of my head. I’m sure I could remember or find with a little work, any number of other groups.

        The United States has had political organizations with most or all of the following on their platform: pro-racist, often religion based (for and against certain ones), pro-business, pro-wealthy, anti-immigrant, and anti-poor for at least two centuries. Two centuries of the Republic supposedly being a democracy. The current Republican Party (and to some degree the current Democratic Party with their disposables and anti-union activities) or this RSS is not new idea.


  9. The Rev Kev

    “Russia’s COVID-19 Vaccine 91.6% Effective, Studies Show”

    At this stage of the game, who cares who developed it just so long as the damn thing works. Vaccine nationalism is a luxury that has well and truly passed its expiry date. The EU was trying to come down hard on countries like Hungary for accepting Sputnik V vaccines but as they had little to none to offer themselves, they were ignored. And now that vaccine supplies have fallen into chaos in Europe, even Germany’s Mama Merkel is realizing that it is better to accept Russian vaccines than to face political oblivion for refusing to accept vaccines in the middle of a shortage during an out of control pandemic. I had thought that as western countries had snapped up vaccine supplies for themselves that the third world could always go for Russian or Chinese vaccines but this option may be closing to them as well if western countries start grabbing those supplies too.

    1. Zamfir

      Does Russia have vaccines to spare? Last thing I read, they said they had produced 7 million vaccines (either 1 or sets of 2 dosess, that was unclear), most which would be distributed in februari. That suggest they still need a lot of scaling to do at home, before they are in a position that send to them to Germany or whatever. They send a 40.000 dose batch to Hungary, but that seems more trolling – the big bulk of Hungary’s purchase is still many months away.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Too late here to research here it but I believe that Russia is going to outsource some of its production to other countries and Hungary is one such country.

      2. jrkrideau

        Back as far as April or May 2020, Russia was talking of the need for external vaccine producers and reportedly was in negotiation with one of the major Indian vaccine producers.

        How well their plans have progressed I have no idea but they were addressing potential bottlenecks early on.

    2. John A

      A friend of mine who lives in Vyborg told me all you need to do is call and make an appointment if you want to have the vaccination and more vaccination centres are opening all the time.

    3. heresy101

      I can’t find the link now (RT, AP, Sputniknews?), but it was claimed that the Russians would provide the formula and how to set up lab to make it to anyone that asks. They aren’t in the vaccine to raise stock prices.

  10. EricT

    Why would the National Chamber of Commerce be against people getting extra money? I’m at a complete loss of words on this view by the chamber. How can they think that more money in the customer’s hands doesn’t mean more opportunity to make more sales.

    1. tegnost

      IMO it’s because the cheap labor will stay home. They want people to have to go to work. Furthermore, American style capitalism doesn’t rely on consumers (we don’t do “customers” anymore) it relies on power imbalances, financialisation, and looting the commons (stock buybacks, fed bond and securities purchases, QE to infinity). For example uber never has and possibly never will make a profit, but they’re buying companies as we speak with a seemingly endless supply of cash. I don’t know what it is , but it’s not capitalism

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Healthcare too.

        The myth of Henry Ford paying his workers for reasons other than wanting to keep a workforce on the Great Lakes and union activities is largely at fault for the idea of enlightened business owners.

      2. JWP

        Oligopoly is the closest it comes. A small number of firms that tend to collude with one another to set and raise prices. throw some gov socialism and legal enforcement at home and abroad behind them and you’ve got the framework for the economy. Pretty much every industry, including the controlling finance one fits this model.

      3. Mikel

        “Furthermore, American style capitalism doesn’t rely on consumers (we don’t do “customers” anymore) it relies on power imbalances, financialisation, and looting the commons (stock buybacks, fed bond and securities purchases, QE to infinity). ”

        This. Indeed.
        Yet, they continue to trot out the now misconception that the “economy” is two-thirds consumer spending.

    2. Dr. Roberts

      The Chamber of Commerce is mostly about keeping the Petite Bourgeoisie onside and ideologized for corporate America. This could just be the ideology getting the better of their actual interests.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        The Chamber has two kinds of members. One wants cash in hands of consumers and one knows people will walk off jobs if single payer Healthcare existed. The latter group simply doesn’t want government to work and works to convince the former this is good.

        It’s like Healthcare. With $2k a month, how many people would leave their jobs? Small businesses would be fine as they would have plenty of people who were bored or wanted less stress. Pits like Amazon would be another matter.

        1. The Historian

          I do wish that these people who think $2000 is going to cause people to leave their jobs would at least think for a moment. But sadly, I fear that they just aren’t capable of thinking.

          NO ONE is going to leave their jobs for $2000. That is only a month’s salary at best. What person would give up a steady employment, however badly they are paid, for a one time shot? What they will do with that money is get their kid to a dentist, or pay a bill, or spend it on something else they need.

          I truly fear for the future of this country that we have so many people who are that stupid about economics that they believe that $2000 is so much money that people will just quit working

          1. Wukchumni

            If you asked the 1/3rd of America that could only scare up $400, a couple grandidos might seem like hitting the lottery.

          2. NotTimothyGeithner

            It’s a first step. It’s an opening step to healthcare or unions. They want total demoralization and dependence on the company. These are parasites. Appeals of the good of the country are meaningless. It’s like the Russians who looted Russia in the 90’s and live in London.

          3. Enver "Bonkers for Bunkers" Hoxha

            No one’s going to leave their jobs, but it will lift the boot slightly off their necks. Or even worse, it might give people the silly idea that their government exists (or even has some responsibility!) to help them.

        2. Mikel

          If single payer healthcare existed, it could be the big corporate earners more likely to walk off the job.

          How many would think now is the time for me use my means and knowledge to start my own business now that I have healthcare administration off my back?
          Isn’t it safe to assume that would create competition for the big corps?

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Kia Motors Shares Jump After Report Apple to Invest $3.6 Billion Bloomberg.

    Its been reported before that Apple were teaming up with Kia (who in turn jointly develop EV’s with Hyundai. It makes sense for the Koreans to do this as an upmarket brand is an obvious gap in the portfolio of their carmakers. I assume this is a recognition by Apple that building cars is far harder than they thought at first. It also I think shows that they will not do anything revolutionary in car design – more an attempt to grab a chunk of the higher end of the automobile market, where all the profit is perceived to be.

    I’ve been idly reading some early reviews of the new Volkswagen ID series. VW have vast resources and have gone all in on EV’s, and unlike most other manufacturers have designed them from the wheel up as EV’s. If they live up to their promise, they are certainly Tesla killers – just as good cars (and probably better built), but at far lower prices. And with their volume advantage, VW could kill off most of the other main car companies too.

    VW have let slip that they think the big threat for car companies is that once the basic components because widely and cheaply available, cheap EV’s will be like cheap smart phones – easy to produce, with highly competitive prices that will make it very unprofitable for the big companies. So they have no option but to go for the ‘Apple’ market – to justify a higher price with some unquantifiable special quality. The problem of course is that it looks like everyone else is likely to try the same thing. I suspect Tesla will get well and truly trampled in the stampede, and maybe other big names such as Toyota, Nissan and GM so on will also lose out.

    1. Glen

      I tend to agree. There are problems with EVs, but where even the current EVs shine is operating and maintenance costs. These are very low compared to internal combustion engine vehicles.

      1. vlade

        Well, yes and no (re smaller costs). The shops I seen often charge more for EV maintenance – because they have fewer people able to do it, and the independent shops in general don’t even want to do it. That’s likely to change over time.
        But say I’m told you need to change the tires more often, as the vehicles are heavier for the same size.
        The insurance here also went up a lot, due to a few fires. An EV fire is not just a total write-off, but it’s also very expensive to deal with right now, because putting out the fire and making sure it doesnt’ start again can take literally days, which means taking it away from the burn site etc. etc. Again, this can change with time, but right now is expensive.

      1. RMO

        They’ve been teasing and promising that one for longer than Toyota did with the new Supra. I would guess another two or more years before it’s likely that a production version will be on the market.

        The prospect of an AppleCar makes me shudder. The only way I can see them proceeding is to shovel a pile of Apple “design language” on to a Kia and then have the software make the whole shebang an inextricably intertwined extension of the customer’s iPhone and Apple ID – and monetize the heck out of all the information that this will provide to them. I can’t imagine too may (any?) NC readers finding this appealing but the same could be said of IOT devices, “smart” homes (“smart” anything really) and horrors such as Siri and Alexa – but Telescreen has proven to be a big seller. Wonder what Orwell would have made of that?

        1. Duck1

          Not much of a car nut, but that bus design looks cool. Unfortunately I am a social security drawer and that thing will be 40 or 50K, so forget about it. Had a ’69 bug and a Eurovan, both capable vehicles.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “A woman did her regular aerobics class out in open without realizing that a coup was taking place in #Myanmar.”

    Would this be such a bad thing if she knew what was going on? If I found myself in the middle of a coup, then I might be inclined to do a bit of working out too. Time to tighten those abs, get those old lung sacs to open, improve your running (and dodging) techniques, time to get get fit. Couldn’t hurt.

    1. Wukchumni

      {aerobics instructor}

      ‘Ok, give me 10 more, now 9 more, make that 8 more authoritarian moves via vehicle, feel the burn!’

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      Burma Days:

      Burma and I go back 30 years, but I’ll just focus here on the last decade. In spite of my best efforts to minimize it, I have spent a good deal of time in Burma’s surreal capital. Nyapidaw, a Brobdignagian ghost city of eerily empty luxury hotels, subdivisions and ministry complexes, was built with Chinese money in the riverine heartland well away from the coast, in a fit of army paranoia following the 2003 US Iraq invasion. Note: this move doesn’t rate a “Thanks Dubya” IMHO; while happy to take free money, the army (tatmadaw) doesn’t trust China and India, or anyone who isn’t Burmese, frankly. More on that in a moment….

      Essentially, it is a capital purpose built for coups. As you can see in the video, those massive vacant boulevards allow army formations to roll effortlessly among the ministry compounds. (ISTR the grand spoked boulevards of Paris and Washington were laid out with similar ‘whiff of grapeshot’ reasoning, btw). A paper-smooth 8 lane highway also runs the 240km to Yangon. This in a country that still encounters nightly power blackouts, although cell phone service (coups aside) is pretty amazing.

      In the background of the video, you can see the stupa of the full scale replica (yes, replica!) of Yangon’s immense Shwe Dagon, whose golden gleam you can see from space on a good day. The original is sheathed in gold taken from temples in the Burmese 18th century sacking of the Thai capital, Ayutthaya, one of numerous bloody ‘elephant wars’ the two Buddhist societies have fought.

      Not that Europeans have any stones to throw of course, but these kinds of epic scale enthusiasms are pretty standard in Burmese history. When King Anawrata embraced Buddhism around 1050 C.E., he and his successors managed to bankrupt their amazingly wealthy kingdom (India’s rice bowl) within 2 centuries, building the ‘ten thousand temples’ of Bagan. The city and kingdom were (still amazing!) ruins by the time the Mongols arrived in 1249.

      ….So it went on. Their response to overenthusiastic Portuguese missionaries and freebooters was impalement. By the late 19th century; it was standard practice for each new despot to slaughter his many (sometimes hundreds!) of brothers, half brothers and uncles to cement his succession. So by the time the British took over (the French were also moving in), there was no shortage of local allies who preferred to keep their heads, as well as non-Burman minorities like the Karens (and Rohingya) happy to trade Burmese rule for plantation, oil wells and those gunboat paddles chunker-chunkin’ up the rivers.

      Anyway, at this point you perhaps get a small taste of just how… colorful… the Burmese ruling class can be. Like Khmers or Vietnamese, they are simply delightful people to dwell and wander among, but it is essential to remember that you are a guest, with that status revocable at will. As most of the non-Burmans within their borders will attest….

    3. Stephen C.

      “A woman did her regular aerobics class out in open without realizing that a coup was taking place in #Myanmar.”

      Kudos to this kid who is keeping fit and maybe trying to make a living as a coach on social media during a pandemic. She’s at least trying to live her life. This is the kind of ignorance that they call bliss, and in youth it has a certain enviable charm.

      And who said she wasn’t aware? After all, I’ve heard it’s a place steeped in Buddhism.

      And . . . I like her moves!

  13. allan

    2020 DCCC: We ran the worst Congressional campaigns possible,
    making sure to run as many bland centrists as possible,
    undercutting the progressives who survived the primary gauntlet,
    and underperforming the top of the ticket by historic amounts.

    2022 DCCC: Hold my beer.

    House Dems move to yoke GOP to QAnon [Politico]

    … It is the first step in a larger plan, orchestrated by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s new chair, Sean Patrick Maloney of New York …

    “They can do QAnon, or they can do college-educated voters. They cannot do both,” Maloney said. …

    Either they want to lose, or [insert standard Talleyrand quote].

    1. Pat

      Hmmmm. I begin to think that Sean will find that his reward for undercutting Teachout in NY is not the prize he thought. Oh sure there will be a few months where he has both power and access to the money, but what with the Democrats screwing up Covid relief so spectacularly, he is going to find they have no traction. I don’t think the Democratic leadership have admitted to themselves that without Covid Trump would probably have won. As a strategy our opponents are monsters loses its effectiveness if it is followed by we’re incompetent and untrustworthy and don’t give a family blog about you even tacitly.

    2. Geo

      Someone who believes Qanon and the 1/6 mob weren’t full of college educated people is no more enlightened than Qanon believers. Heck, Marjorie Taylor Greene is a college grad.

      Seriously, our bubbles of self-righteousness are going to be our downfall. Seems our National political discourse is just a bunch of people projecting their own bias onto others; trying to protect themselves from their own pathologies by accusing everyone not like them of those pathologies. “Everyone different than me is a bigot!” “I’m being canceled by victim culture!”

      As for the Dems “Either they want to lose, or” it seems from their history over the past few decades that losing is the one thing they excel at. Even when they win they make it a loss. Obama and the loss of approximately 1,000 seats during his presidency is the prime example but there are endless others. As NC often points out, appealing the the PMC class is a losing strategy but knowing many of that class I’ve observed they truly seem to believe the “middle” is them. They don’t realize the real middle is completely disenfranchised and hates privileged yuppies that enjoy the benefits of our system while the rest of us scratch and claw to get by day to day fearing a misstep or accident/illness that will obliterate what little we have to claim as our life.

      Or, maybe that disenfranchisement is the point? When a system is rigged against you it’s easier to just opt out of playing the game but sadly that game is our system and we live in it whether we play or not.

    3. rowlf

      Time for QAnon and Marjorie Taylor Greene to make public statements that they KNOW President Trump was a Russian agent all along and make the Democrats fight for their flag.

        1. rowlf

          Hit that theme so hard the Democrats have to say, sotto voce, “Uh, we made all that Russian stuff up, now give us back our ball.”

  14. DJG

    “Several experts I spoke with recommended that the Biden administration put together a cross-agency task force to tackle disinformation and domestic extremism, which would be led by something like a ‘reality czar.’”

    I am here as your reality czar, and you aren’t going to like it.

    This morning, I was scanning the daily e-mail blast from the NYTimes to discover that there is a dustup going on among classicists. It appears that there is a wing of classicists who think that the writings of the Greeks and Romans, that is, peoples of the Mediterranean world, somehow validate U.S. concepts of Western Civilization (and its groovy new formulation WEIRD countries).

    These classicists (I note that one of them sports the surname of Williams / she is an “independent” scholar) are descended from the same classicists who thought it a-okay to keep out the descendants of Greek and Romans with restrictive U.S. immigration laws.

    One wants Western Civilization, so long as the people coming from Mediterranean world reinforce one’s idea of whiteness, Christianity, and lamb with mint sauce.

    As the Marxist pagan philosophe, Rhyd Wildermuth, has pointed out repeatedly, one characteristic of Americans is that they are desperate to impose their racial panic / foolish categories upon the world.

    So: No, Herakleitos didn’t take afternoon tea and go on about property values. The great Plutarch had no knowledge of or inclination to use the U.S. color system of racial classification. Nor is Cleopatra, pharoah of Egypt, “black” in the U.S. sense.

    Now you can see why I am the reality czar, peeps.

    1. ambrit

      Oh boy. There you go again, trying to tell us what “reality” is. Haven’t you heard? “We create our own reality” is the ‘New Normal.’
      Politics is now “Eleventy Dimensional Beanbag.”

      1. DJG

        ambrit: If you feel so inclined:

        He Wants to Save Classics From Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?
        Dan-el Padilla Peralta thinks classicists should knock ancient Greece and Rome off their pedestal — even if that means destroying their discipline.
        NY Times Magazine

        You won’t believe some of the arguments and some of the sniping.

        And Cleopatra still isn’t black.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          People who actually read some classics might be surprised that the ancients didn’t really seem to give a [family blog] about identity politics. In fact, although there wasn’t universal agreement, the ancients had a way more tolerant attitude toward what we today would describe as differences in gender. Bisexuality was rather commonplace.

          That’s not to say the ancients were particularly nice to each other – The Greeks and Romans did have a penchant for razing particularly problematic cities to the ground and selling the survivors into slavery – but their nastiness had a different cultural basis. They operated on the ‘might makes right’ doctrine more than anything.

          Reading a recently published book right now about ancient Thebes. The Athenians referred to the Thebans, who were their Greek neighbors, as ‘Boetian swine’. The insult is more akin to a PMC denizen of NYC looking down their nose at upstate rural New Yorkers. Nothing to do with identity as we define it today.

          And you’re right – Cleopatra was not black in the sense we describe it today. But I’m not sure the ancients would have cared one way or another. The Egyptians of the time were likely more concerned about how long they would have to keep being ruled by Greeks rather than what race she identified as.

        2. Eclair

          Duh, DJG. Of course Cleopatra isn’t black. She would have been portrayed by Cicely Tyson, not Elizabeth Taylor.

        3. ambrit

          Right. Cleopatra was Greek. Her family line descended from Ptolemy, a Greek general and supposedly half brother of Alexander the Great.

    2. Cuibono

      where would the reality czar have come down on fauci saying we did not need masks?
      Where would the czar come down now that we dont need good masks?

    1. Eclair

      Flora, I remember coming home from school and my mom and I would watch the McCarthy hearings on TV. Black and white.

      1. Late Introvert

        I was 10 when the Watergate hearings were on all 3 channels during after school TV time. Hated that so much!

  15. Snade

    ‘South Korea Leads World in Innovation; U.S. Drops Out of Top 10’

    What do you expect when most of your students are studying math, materials science and engineering?

    Our best and brightest use to do that, used to build factories, used to form stable families and work toward the future. Now our best and brightest, if they can afford college, are studying how to parasitize their fellow Americans with interest, shave points off culture and the remainder are burdening themselves for life with student loans to immerse themselves in art, gay, women’s, film, American studies plus other naval gazing, along with backwards looking historical revisionism built around perceived grievances.

    1. HotFlash

      A couple a decades ago our workshop built a custom instrument for a high school in Singapore. When checking them out I was blown away to find that they ran seminars for their students on patent law and how to apply for a patent. This is a high school. No wonder they eat our lunch.

  16. Mikel

    RE: “The CIA Fine-Tunes Its Hiring Pitch to Millennials and Gen Z” WSJ.

    Only able to read part of this, but sounds like they’ll be using a lot memes.
    Amazing the emotional response some have to memes. But maybe not so amazing considering it can be a form of narrative with music (an ultimate emotion generator).

  17. allan

    Flunky for the world’s richest man:

    Glenn Kessler @GlennKesslerWP

    New #FactChecker –> Sanders’s claim the 2017 tax cut went to the ‘wealthiest’ and ‘large corporations’.

    Actually, new research shows most Americans ended up with a reduction in taxes from the 2017 law.

    Kessler gives Sanders Three Pinocchios™, so I give Kessler four.

  18. Cuibono

    From the psuedoscientific beleifs article:
    It is concluded that the risk of suffering from paranoid, psychotic or dissociative states can easily increase after these days of physical-social isolation. This would also put at risk the mental health of people and would emphasize the urgency of the psychiatric and psychological measures that the legislation and the government should take to protect the most vulnerable medical-psychological profiles in terms of the development of psychotic pictures.

    As a final conclusion, knowing that the states of paranoia were the experiences that increased the most after the social quarantine, it is worth considering the possibility that an excess of information and disinformation in digital media is one of the variables causing the increases observed for generating confusion and preventing the general population from effectively discriminating between credible information sources and pseudoscientific information sources.”

    The implication of that article is what is scary

  19. John Anthony La Pietra

    From its letter responding to Zuma’s refusal to appear before it, that South African “State Capture Commission” has a rather longer full name . . . “The Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector Including Organs of State”.

    Well, I guess they’re not so worried about coming up with a catchy acronym as US politicians would probably be. . . .

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