Links 3/1/2021

Why do cats purr? BBC Science Focus (Furzy Mouse).

‘This is bigger than just Timnit’: How Google tried to silence a critic and ignited a movement Fast Company

Has a startup finally found one of food science’s holy grails with its healthy sugar substitute? TechCrunch

Study: Antifouling May be a Major Source of Microplastic Pollution Maritime Executive

Seagrass Is A Vital Weapon Against Climate Change, But We’re Killing It HuffPo


Immunizing the World: Can We Do It? The Globalist

US begins rollout of Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine ABC

Opinion: How Lamont’s COVID vaccination efforts ostracize the most vulnerable Connecticut residents New Haven Register

Finland Had a Patent-Free COVID-19 Vaccine Nine Months Ago — But Still Went With Big Pharma Jacobin (KLG25). Today’s must-read.

Vocabulary for variants:

In the Beltway, “concern” means “hair on fire,” so “Variant of Concern” is a good phrase.

First vaccine to fully immunize against malaria builds on pandemic-driven RNA tech The Academic Times


Central banks of China and United Arab Emirates join digital currency project for cross-border payments Bank of International Settlements

China Charges Ahead With a National Digital Currency NYT

China developer default marks latest test in under-pressure sector FT

China Fintech Curbs That Hit Ant Were No Surprise: Ping An Caixin Global

China will ‘vigorously support’ semiconductor industry, IT ministry head says, as country seeks self-sufficiency in chip-making South China Morning Post

Historic Round-up of Hong Kong Opposition Draws Defiant Protest Bloomberg

Why the tanks keep rolling WaPo. “Militaries are getting better at overthrowing elected governments.”


‘Back to the Stone Age’: Striking bank workers bring an industry – and an economy – to its knees Frontier Myanmar

‘We have to win’: Myanmar protesters persevere as junta ramps up violence Guardian

Revealing the dubious links of an Australian company in troubled Myanmar Sydney Morning Herald

‘Milk Tea Alliance’ activists across Asia hold rallies against Myanmar coup Reuters

‘A lost generation’: COVID-19 takes emotional toll on Indonesia’s young Channel News Asia


Govt working for farmers, says PM Modi, endorses budget provisions India Today

100 Days of Farmer Protest: Know Reason behind farmer protest and what has happened till the date Jagran TV. A timeline.

The mystery of India’s ‘lake of skeletons’ BBC

How is erosion affecting the recovery of the Fukushima area? Soils Matter

The Koreas

North Korea’s Missed Opportunity: The Unique, Dovish Moment of the Overlapping Trump and Moon Presidencies (PDF) Korea Institute for Defense Analysis


Cork-based nuns breach Covid guidelines to attend exorcism of the Dáil Irish Examiner

David Oliver: Lack of PPE betrays NHS clinical staff British Medical Journal

The Mystery Of The Covid Deaths Taking Months To Appear In NHS Data HuffPo

Salmond inquiry: The choice is with Nicola Sturgeon The Herald

Europe should ‘go big’ on fiscal policy too Adam Tooze, Chartbook

Germany: AstraZeneca vaccine priority groups ‘should be abolished’ Deutsche Welle

A Possible Solution to the Nord Stream 2 Conundrum Der Spiegel

Germany offered US ‘dirty deal’ to drop Nord Stream 2 sanctions Deutsche Welle

Sweden has avoided a COVID-19 lockdown so far: Has its strategy worked? ABC

Biden Administration

POLITICO Playbook: Scoop: Anti-Big Tech crusader poised to join Biden admin Politico. Tim Wu. Big if true and in good faith.

What Joe Biden Gets Totally Wrong About Student Debt The Nation

Exclusive: Biden in no rush to lift Venezuela sanctions, seeks ‘serious steps’ by Maduro Reuters. Serious like what? Autodefenestration?

Chile emerges as global leader in Covid inoculations with ‘pragmatic strategy’ Guardian

Intelligence Community

The Lies Aren’t Secret The American Conservative

Democrats en deshabille

Andrew Cuomo Is Finished Ross Barkan, Political Currents. That’s a damn shame.

Bernie’s loss, and two theories of capitalism Carl Beijer

Republican Funhouse

Trump tears into Biden, GOP critics in first post-presidency speech The Hill

Trump says he won’t form new party, vows to unite Republicans Al Jazeera


The Texas Blackout Is the Story of a Disaster Foretold Texas Monthly

ERCOT pulls the plug on electricity retailer Griddy’s ability to operate in Texas Dallas Morning News (MV).

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

Corporate Media Parrot FBI Talking Points as More Americans Turn to Encrypted Communication Online FAIR

Little League Wants All Your Information Kirk Strauser,

Our Famously Free Press

New York Times Columnist David Brooks Blogged For Facebook’s Corporate Site Buzzfeed. Ka-ching.

Groves of Academe

Atlas, Ferguson, and Hanson: On Free Speech at Stanford Stanford Review

Zeitgeist Watch

I think we’re getting to a tipping point Welcome to Hell World. Includes an interview with a health insurance billing coder.

Class Warfare

Measuring Colonial Extraction: The East India Company’s Rule and the Drain of Wealth (1757–1858) (PDF) Capitalism: A Journal of History and Economics. The whole issue is free. It’s pretty impressive.

Are Declassed Professionals in the United States like Surplus Song Dynasty Civil Servants? Benjamin Studebaker

Gig companies prepare to bring their fight for independent work nationwide under a more skeptical Biden administration CNBC. “Independent work” my Sweet Aunt Fanny.

9-year-old girl cries to virtual class that she’s ‘starving,’ local food bank steps in Today. Reading between the lines, complex eligibility requirements are doing their job.

Measuring Household Distress and Potential Policy Impacts Federal Reserve Bank of St Louis

How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots Axios

The Mars Helicopter is Online and Getting Ready to Fly Universe Today

Scientists Talked To People In Their Dreams. They Answered NPR

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. Carla

    “9-year-old cries to class that she’s starving” — glad this kid and her family got help. Wonder how long it will take the hunger-industrial complex to teach this child that the correct term is “food insufficient,” not starving.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Unbelievable when you think about it. America is the richest country in the world and yet you have 50 million people going hungry, 17 million of whom are children. If those people were a country, they would be about the 30th biggest country in the world by population out of 233 countries.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Obama made the offer so it would be repeated, but the idea this was accepted as a legitimate offer shows people have such little faith in the US Healthcare system they think the sitting VP can go broke from treatment for his son. Going broke from being sick is simply accepted.

        I wonder why Obama isn’t offering to pay for any of these kids treatments.

        1. Dr. John Carpenter

          This is why I disagree with the author’s assessment that we are close to a tipping point. The situations in his article are just another day in the US of A. People have been noting the awfulness of these feel good stories about our disastrous medical system for quite some time now. Heck, remember the Uber driver who drove herself to the hospital to have a baby in between runs that the DNC applauded in their 2016 convention? I think like school shootings, the majority of the country is just numb to it and accepts this as the way it is.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            I think the structures that keep things going are on the verge of failing quite rapidly. Then it’s a different ball game. A GoFundMe for the daughter of a seemingly successful small business is a huge warning sign. The churches and charities that fill the gap depend on the bakery types.

            It’s going to get ugly.

            1. a different chris

              >A GoFundMe for the daughter of a seemingly successful small business is a huge warning sign.

              I always feel that the “trick” pulled in the post-Reagan era was based on the rule-of-thumb that only the bourgeoisie rebelled, as the poor were well, too poor to have time for that stuff.

              And the trick was to fool people into thinking they were still doing well (adding a second income, then a second job to at least one income, low but not difficult “co-pays” now becoming harder to pay, monster flat screen tvs), or at least “temporarily embarrassed millionaires” so they didn’t notice that they were firmly, not temporarily in the paycheck-to-paycheck class until it was simply too late.

              But maybe not. Maybe they did jump the gun…not getting my hopes up, though.

              1. JBird4049

                >>>But maybe not. Maybe they did jump the gun…not getting my hopes up, though.

                It’s usually not apparent, really, just how fracked the situation is, until “it” that hits the tipping point happens. We are here in the Hellworld with our vision obscured by the smoke, flames, and wails, so we cannot see it.

                Hopefully, in a few decades someone of us might still be around to read that first book that explains exactly what happened, or that there will be people able to write and publish it. But until it happens, we are stuck trying to glean information hidden by the smoke.

                As I see it, the decay, the hunger, is climbing up the economic and social ladder. It is getting hard to hid from it or to blame the victims for their situation. “Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose.”

      2. jsn

        Yes, and the Fed thinks of this situation,

        “Government policies such as income support
        and debt relief may help explain low levels
        of household financial distress, but outcomes
        are uncertain once assistance ends.”

        In this, the best of all possible worlds.

    2. Mr. Magoo

      And whatever they could buy before goes a lot less further now. It is nice to be able to carefully select your factors of inflation to dial whatever inflation target you may want and keep re-distributing wealth and income via QE, ship jobs overseas for miniscule short term gains, yet ignore the morality of letting a large part of the population slip thru the cracks. American exceptionalism I guess.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Obama was pushing the “chained CPI” COLA benefits adjustment crapola as ‘a way to get Republicans to sign on to Social Security revisions, applauded in the NYT’s blogspace and many other locales:

        “So if we just keep looping chains around the necks of the drowning, we won’t have to listen to so many people making dissatisfied noises with our well-studied neoliberal improvements packages…”

        1. Procopius

          Yes. I hated having to be grateful to the [family blog] Tea Partiers for saving us, but rigorous honesty required it.

    3. Dr. Roberts

      Notice how “food insufficient” follows the rule for euphemisms that they must have more syllables than the word they’re avoiding.

  2. Paul Jonker-Hoffrén

    The Finland news:
    With google translate you can read this:

    So Jacobin is misleading, because the Finnish vaccine, while promising, is nowhere near the market. Testing has to yet begin on animals and then humans. Must read in the sense that the vaccine is a new mechanism, but otherwise way overblown reaction and interpretation from Jacobin…

    1. aleric

      One of the points of the article was that they were not able to get money allocated for human studies. Which are expensive, but a fraction of the total spent acquiring vaccine from other sources. So this criticism seems to miss the point that the state is unwilling to invest to break the oligopoly of big pharma.

      1. Carolinian

        Right. The article is about how medicine is crippled by the current pharma patent system–not really about the Finnish vaccine proposal in particular.

      2. lyman alpha blob

        Exactly – according to the article the reason testing wasn’t done was because the people who came up with the vaccine weren’t affiliated with big pharma. Since there was no profit to be made, the government wasn’t about to help, and in fact told them to look for venture capital to form a start up , even though they seemed happy to give the cure to the world for free. But that’s just not how things are done – doing the right thing to benefit humanity without profit is anathema.

        And in lieu of direct state funding, Saksela and his partners have received advice from the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health: to establish a startup and begin courting venture capitalists.

        So we could have had an effective vaccine that could be administered nasally and didn’t need to be supercooled months and months ago, but instead we’ve all been shut in for a [family blog]ing YEAR so big pharma wouldn’t be deprived of profits. And yet I guarantee some neoliberal will be on the news somewhere today decrying the fact that there are some backwards anti-maskers who don’t ‘trust the science’ like all goodthinking liberals do.

        1. Zamfir

          I don’t think months and months ago? They say they had a vaccine ready for testing in May2020. That’s several months later than the vaccines that are now available, not ahead.

          The vaccines that are now available, had already done several testing stages in May 2020. The remainder of the time went to more testing, and approval, and ramping production. The Finns would have had to do that as well.

          Or not: if you read the link below, the Finnish professor was proposing to skip human test altogether, and to have production done by his mates who owned a biotech firm.

          1. lyman alpha blob

            Good article – thanks. I’m not knowledgeable enough to say whether skipping human testing would have been a good idea or not, but I would lean towards not.

            But even if this vaccine wouldn’t have been available much earlier than Pfizer, it still would have helped. From your link –

            “The first vaccine producer will hardly be able to deliver its vaccine to the whole of the world. When the first vaccine comes out, it would good for there to be other producers in Finland, in Europe, elsewhere in the world who could share some of the burden,” points out Heikura.

            As someone who is very reluctant to get a vaccine (have a very adverse reaction to shots in general, and also to big pharma), I can say I would be a lot less reluctant to get vaccinated if there were no shot involved and the vaccine had been developed with the good of humanity first in mind rather than corporate profit.

            But as we mopes continue to have hammered into our psyches, we are not allowed by our “betters” to have nice things.

        2. shinola

          Here’s the Money Quote (literally):

          “…the pricing is comparable to extortion,” Saksela says. “It’s very sad. Whatever is the largest sum you can extort from a person or the state dictates the cost. And of course, they’re ultimately based on publicly financed research, just as is the case with vaccines.”

          Strikingly similar sentiment to remarks by an Econ. prof I had (in 1974): “If you want to be guaranteed a high income, go into the medical bidness** …People will pay nearly anything if their life & health depend on it.”

          **”Bidness” was a term he liked to use for operations that were not based on traditional market theories but on cronyism, monopoly & the like.

        3. Jason

          instead we’ve all been shut in for a [family blog]ing YEAR so big pharma wouldn’t be deprived of profits.

          It’s much larger than big pharma profits. It’s about full spectrum dominance of the internal population.

          1. Synoia

            The Finns have a patent free vaccine, and no factory to produce it, even if they could test it. The best the Finns could do is negotiate for production with one of the Generic Produces of vaccines, probably one in India, and get the trials completed.

            They might be able to get funding for trials (Go find me?), Or have some government step up (unlikely, because the US might sanction that Government).

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I am not sure what you mean by your statement:
      “…the sense that the vaccine is a new mechanism…”.
      From the Jacobin article:
      “The Finnish vaccine uses an adenovirus to carry the genetic instructions for synthesizing the spike protein.”
      From today’s post on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine:
      “To create this vaccine, the Johnson & Johnson team took a harmless adenovirus – the viral vector – and replaced a small piece of its genetic instructions with coronavirus genes for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein.”

      I do not know of another vaccine that uses nasal spray instead of injection but the polio vaccine you drink from a little paper cup comes to mind.

      As for the testing — the Warp Speed process — whatever that was remains a concern to me. How did Warp Speed testing work to speed up the standard test regimen? I am no expert — I thought a standard test regimen included some tests that simply take time.

        1. Michaelmas

          And a nasal spray might be a good idea

          There’s at least least one nasal spray against COV19 that’ll be announced in the next quarter that I know of.

  3. fresno dan

    The Lies Aren’t Secret The American Conservative
    On January 12, 2017, FBI chief James Comey attested to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court that the Steele dossier used to hound the Trump campaign had been “verified.” But on the same day, Comey emailed then-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper: “We are not able to sufficiently corroborate the reporting.” That email was revealed last week thanks to a multi-year fight for disclosure by the Southeastern Legal Foundation.
    Absurd secrecy rationales also made mincemeat of Trump’s foreign policy. One of Trump’s biggest failures abroad was his failure to end U.S. involvement in the Syrian civil war. Beginning in 2013, the Obama administration began covertly providing money and weapons to Syrian groups fighting the government of Bashar Assad. The program was a catastrophe from the start: CIA-backed Syrian rebels ended up fighting Pentagon-backed rebels. Much of the U.S. aid ended up in the hands of terrorist groups, some of whom were allied with Al Qaeda.
    CIA officer Antoinette Shiner warned the court that forcing the CIA to admit that it possessed any records of aiding Syrian rebels would “confirm the existence and the focus of sensitive Agency activity that is by definition kept hidden to protect U.S. government policy objectives.” Of course, “kept hidden” doesn’t apply to CIA “not for attribution” bragging to reporters. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius proudly cited an estimate from a “knowledgeable official” that “CIA-backed fighters may have killed or wounded 100,000 Syrian soldiers and their allies over the past four years.”
    Our vaunted independent judges believe that the US can wage war in secret. War making is the most important power of a government, and the US, at its core, confirms that the US does not have a representative government. The people have no right to know what the government is doing, nor do they have any right to veto what the government is doing…

    1. km

      Did Julian Assange not say that most government secrecy is for political reasons?

      Or this little honey: “…most power structures are deeply incompetent, staffed by people who don’t really believe in their institutions and that most power is the projection of the perception of power. And the more secretively it works, the more incompetent it is, because secrecy breeds incompetence, while openness breeds competence, because one can see and can compare actions and see which one is more competent. To keep up these appearances, institutional heads or political heads such as presidents spend most of the time trying to walk in front of the train and pretending that it is following them, but the direction is set by the tracks and by the engine of the train. Understanding that means that small and committed organisations can outmanoeuvre these institutional dinosaurs, like the State Department, the NSA or the CIA.”

  4. zagonostra

    >Bernie’s loss, and two theories of capitalism Carl Beijer

    1. The machine beat him

    2. Sanders lost because idpol.

    It’s interesting that the article “The Lies Aren’t Secret – The American Conservative” opens with “Secrecy is the ultimate entitlement program for the Deep State” and even MSM have been using the term “Deep State” but the Carl Beijer frames why Bernie lost in “1” above in mechanistic terms.

    “..understanding of capitalism in which the operation of power is extraordinarily complex, adaptive, and instrumental. Ultimately, the explanation is material — the bourgeoisie controls the means of production, and this allows it to leverage its control over workers and resources in all kinds of different ways in order to maintain their power.”

    For those like myself who have read much of the Marxist literature this language hit’s a resonant chord. It was useful and made me realize that any analysis of politics that omits “class” is missing an essential component, But, it now seems so sterile and amorphous, a view from nowhere.

    I think #2 can be dismissed as misdirection or descriptive and doesn’t explain the underlying causal relationships between race, ethnicity, and class.

    My operational “theory” for why Bernie lost, has to do with a tendency that exist in all forms of gov’t. Societies are always characterized by the few who hold power and the many who fall under that power. The few who rule, and the many who are ruled. Be it communist, democratic, republican, monarchical, it doesn’t matter, this is the iron rule of oligarchy.

    The ruling elites have decreed that in the U.S. the masses have to be kept in a state of precarity in order to preserve the whole. For this, Bernie’s loss was engineered and executed.

    Bankers meeting on Jekyll Island to pass the Federal Reserve Act, the assassination of Kennedys and so forth right down the line to the “Dark Shadow” software “glitch” in Iowa, there are individuals who compose the “Deep State” that have new instruments at their disposal to effect the will of the few over the many.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I mean is it impolite to mention the language used such as Hillary saying Bernie isnot one of us while in a church?

      The largest problem is the activated voters through cable news who usually never participate and know nothing about politics except that they stare at msnbc for three hours a night.

      1. Samuel Conner

        > know nothing about politics except that they stare at msnbc for three hours a night.

        I think that one of the useful features of the daily antidotes and bonus antidotes (the enthusiastic juvenile penguin on 2/27 was a classic funny, and the jet black horse that day was gorgeous — I’m going to go back and download that one) is that they provide another “handle” by which to interest people in my contacts list, many of whom are animal enthusiasts, in alternative analyses of the news provided by NC. I frequently forward NC links pages under the subject “You may enjoy this item”, pointing toward the antidote(s). My correspondents have to scroll past the news links to get to the items of interest, and it appears to me that some of them are noticing that the world is more complex (and more interesting) than portrayed by the for-profit media and the polarization of the views of their social media contacts and information sources.


        Yves: keep the delightful bonus videos coming — they are an “advertising” tool for NC.

      2. Patrick

        Food for thought: The largest problem is that we are hominids. We are what we are. It is what it is. Let’s not kid ourselves. On the other hand it is nice to have access to a community (NC) that represents the better angels of our nature, one that is aligned with what is fair and true. What we are involved in imho is a struggle against our very nature – the nature of all earthlife to survive. Things won’t change unless and until necessary for our survival. In our egalitarian huntergatherer days it was necessary that everyone pitched in – the sociopaths were shamed; today they are rewarded. I miss the good ol’ days!

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          If the good old days existed, then being hominids cant be the problem.

          The real problem is upper middle class types who seem themselves experts and vote for a half remembered character from childhood and know nothing. The msdnc audience in short. I do think tv plays a role. Obama is rarely quoted but his words are soaring and inspirational. On page, hes sniveling and dull willing to say only the safest of words, but in person, hes a cool dude with a great story.

    2. Darthbobber

      But Beijer in his framing is building in a significant straw man. Most of the pieces I’ve seen that focus on #2 do in fact accept many items in the laundry list that is #1, sometimes quite explicitly, sometimes taking many of them as given. And number one is indeed a standard pluralist laundry list, which makes no effort to assign relative weights to the items on the list. And hence stops at precisely the point where analysis should begin.

      Number 2, in the form that he puts it in, is wrong as a monocausal explanation, but does NOT by any means imply that it’s adherents see identitarian concerns as capitalism’s main, let alone sole weapon. It just requires them to see a focus on that as a flawed and self-defeating strategy on the part of capitalism’s opponents. (How accurate it is that the Sanders campaign did indeed foreground identitarian issues to the extent needed to make that the central issue is another question.)

      1. Jessica

        When I heard Bernie speak at a rally in early 2020, his speech surprised me by how much it seemed to be a laundry list of complaints, most of them idpol, with the attack on the anti-working class concentration of power, which seemed clearly central in 2016, relegated to just another idpol complaint.
        Reading Mike Davis about how some of the socialist parties in Europe during their revolutionary period right after WW1 saw the rural workers as hopelessly reactionary and, in the case of small farmers, economically doomed anyway, it struck me that that attitude by industrial working class parties toward the rural workers is quite similar to the attitude of the liberal educated classes toward the working class now. Davis makes a good case that that attitude on the part of the industrial workers’ parties was why all the revolutions but Russia failed.

      1. SteveD

        Almost certainly true that Bernie would not be allowed to govern however he might be able to expose that truth to larger and larger slices of the public, and in so doing moves the ball down the field a bit. Trump (accidentally) exposed that we don’t necessarily have full and comprehensive civilian control over the military.

        1. km

          I suspect that you give Sanders too much credit.

          People expressed many of the same hopes for a President Barack “Turns out, I’m really good at killing people” Obama, while others expressed something similar for a President Donald “I like oil!” Trump.

          1. Roger the cabin boy

            No. If you paid any attention to any of the named individuals’ pasts you would have known that you weren’t getting any surprises with any of them.

            “People” don’t give Sanders too much credit. The idea that people are trying for a good outcome with their vote gives people too much credit.

            1. km

              The entire point of Obama’s past was that it was a blank slate. He didn’t have much of a policy record to judge from.

              Sanders does have a long track record, and it includes things like support for NATO’s war on Serbia.

              1. km

                Trump, I should have added, has a long record as a loudmouth, but had none as a politician. Moreover, his pre-2016 record is scattered at best, giving people something to support and convince themselves that this was The Real Trump speaking.

        2. Tom Stone

          SteveD, you can’t be “Only a little Bit pregnant”.
          The precedent has been set, without punishment for those who lied to the Commander in Chief about the number of troops in Syria and who deliberately obstructed their withdrawal until the Biden Administration took over.
          That horse has left the barn.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        No doubt, but the process of doing so if he’d won would have been intrinsically more public, less opaque, and likely to have political consequences.

  5. paul

    RE: Salmond inquiry: The choice is with Nicola Sturgeon.

    Much as I like Leslie Riddoch (her programmes on the faroes are great), I just can’t see any such rapprochement. It has gone way too far for that.

    Moreover, it wouldn’t do much for Scotland, the enfeebled and fearful party she leads or those who desire independence.

    The current FM’s has shown she is not the right person for the job (unless you are a unionist). While she can present herself well, she is useless at representing Scotland’s interests and has shown zero strategy, enthusiasm or guile in dealing with quite extraordinarily favourable circumstances regarding her party’s professed purpose.

    I wonder if the committee investigating her government (which happens to be withholding evidence at every opportunity), will make her sit through a 6 hour session like Alex Salmond had to last Friday.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      I don’t follow the Scottish media, but I’ve noted that the Guardian is portraying this as a power struggle with mud being slung on both sides. The recent editorial even took the inevitable ‘believe the women’ stance. Only Andrew Rawsley in the Observer seems to have bothered reading Salmond’s evidence and realized its implications if even a fraction of what he is alleging is true.

      I honestly don’t know if this is down to the ineptness of the media, or a deliberate attempt by the establishment to protect Sturgeon. She is increasingly looking like the Unionists best friend, someone who will fly the Scottish flag while doing her absolute best not to disturb the status quo.

      That said, there is of course an argument that given the circumstances, the status quo may well be the least worst of all worlds, but its up to the Scottish people to decide that. But of course, they need an honest debate to make that decision.

      1. paul

        I don’t follow the Scottish media

        That is no disadvantage in this matter.

        I honestly don’t know if this is down to the ineptness of the media, or a deliberate attempt by the establishment to protect Sturgeon.

        That’s how I see it.

        If you get a chance, take a look at advocate Gordon Dangerfield’s sober sitrep and analysis.

  6. a different chris

    Apologies for not referring to the links, but in my defense this blog is about all things money and thus the market:

    Ok here’s a question for the group (link below): this guy sold holdings during the downturn. After he sold them the notational value went back up 80 grand.

    He’s all butthurt since he did this on the advice of his brother, because he “lost $80,000”. The question of course is did he really “lose” money?

    There isn’t enough info, of course. So let us assume he isn’t a drug dealer using laundered cash, but instead he bought the stocks a while ago and they appreciated. He does come across as a buy-and-hold guy. And assume that he bought at 200k, they went to whatever, nosedived and he sold at 300k. Now this particular basket is back to $380k when he reenters the market.

    Thus it would look to me like this constructed version of him made 100k. And the thing is: you can’t buy food and shelter with a stock. It has to, at the point of need, be converted into cash. And this guy doesn’t know, nobody knows as you cannot predict the future, exactly when that “point of need” would have occurred without this incident. So are they worth anything until said point in any sort of non-late-capitalism reality? I expected that answer, but lol no.

    Shorter me: is this guy, the column guy, and by extension most of the world just completely wack at this point?

    1. Tom Stone

      A different Chris, an “unrealized” gain is by definition, unreal until it is “realized”.

      It is one of the Iron Laws, just as “What can’t be paid, won’t be paid” is.

    2. tegnost

      I guess he’ll need to make use of the brother brother investment dispute settlement facility

    3. Jesper

      That really highlighted the danger of giving advice. On a related note: I am still amazed by the number of people providing unasked for advice. Sometimes the advice is more like orders: do as I say and if you don’t then provide acceptable explanations as to why the order (no, sorry the advice) wasn’t followed….

      I’d say in my personal opinion then the world is out of wack when it comes to providing unasked for advice, once upon a time then providing unasked for advice was rude, impolite and frowned upon and now seen as something completely normal. Not really an answer to the actual question asked but :-)

    4. skippy

      Until price is taken at point of sale the value is notional w/ pointing out there are no rights with equities, other senior investments do have rights, hence not a wash.

      Equities are churn for executive bonuses.

    5. Lins

      The guy is just salty because he took his brother’s advice to literally cut his losses at $80k, rather than hold and risk losing even more. Obviously, he’s referring to the “covid crisis” market plunge and subsequent recovery. It was reasonable to assume the worst was still to come, so cutting his losses to $80k would have been welcomed if the portfolio declined further. Unlike the Great Financial Crisis, doomsday did not materialize (it took the S&P 500 Index five years to rebound to its pre-decline price level!)

      Thus, the only relevant takeaway from this story is: YOU CANT SUCCESSFULLY TIME THE MARKET.

      Yes, its all just paper gains and losses and only truly matters when/if you realize said gains/losses by selling. You only sell when you need the funds to pay for something and if you’re cashing out when you’re down 50%, you’re buying power likely dropped from filet to a can of tuna. Unlike the GFC, Covid was not exactly predictable (in the way it has played out inception to now) so there are times when you don’t have a choice, you might have to sell at a bad time, but even that can be mitigated by proper allocation. IOW, if you have to sell and can only afford the can of tuna you probably were taking too much risk.

  7. fresno dan

    I think we’re getting to a tipping point Welcome to Hell World. Includes an interview with a health insurance billing coder.

    Savage’s Bakery in Homewood is now serving a new kind of lemonade–a special concoction customers won’t find on their regular menu.
    Liza Scott, the 7-year-old daughter of owner Elizabeth Scott, has set up a lemonade stand inside the bakery. Because when life gave her lemons…
    She made lemonade.
    It goes on:
    It was less than a month ago that Liza began having Grand Mal seizures. Weeks later, doctors learned this “spunky, loving, fearless, bright, happy girl” has an “extra special brain.”
    Don’t think she’s the only one here who does.
    “I can’t handle it. So, I hope I make it,” Liza said. “My mom keeps saying I’m going to, but I feel like I’m not.”
    I’m not saying people who think 7 year old’s should fund their own brain surgery should spend eternity in Hell – I think a million years would be sufficient punishment…

    1. zagonostra

      I couldn’t make it all the way through the article. My disgust at this country’s treatment of it’s children and “the least of us” works me up in a visceral way. Along with the opening comment “9-year-old cries to class that she’s starving” I can’t handle any more stories like this this morning…This is where I have to reach out to friends who have a deeper religious faith than I do.

      1. Lemmy Caution

        As stories like these continue to reveal the terrifying disinterest of the ruling class in the wide-spread suffering experienced by everyday people, I find myself wondering when enough is enough.

        Specifically, when a country creates and sustains conditions that systematically impoverish, brutalize and kill its citizens — and quashes any attempts to change the status quo (looking at you Joe “Nothing will fundamentally change” Biden) — is there ever a point where a violent overthrow of the ruling class necessary and justified?

        1. Tom Stone

          Lemmy, the legal term is “Malign Indifference” and it is sometimes invoked in cases of manslaughter.

        2. zagonostra

          The answer is yes, if viewed from the the standpoint of the Declaration of Independence. But times have changed, technology, integrated social systems, interdependencies, and all that has transpired since below words were written, makes what you do after answering “yes” problematic to say the least. The days of forming a militia to throw off the “yoke” of oppression have long since passed.

          …experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

          .. In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

          1. JBird4049

            An army actually did win the war. The war started in 1775 with the militias fighting, and effectively ended in 1781 with the Continental Army with the needed help of the French army and navy.

            The states’ militias were often useful, and even critical sometimes, but the war only able to be successful when the Continental Army was able to straight up fight the British Army. That took a process of continuing recruitment, defeats, retraining, and fighting again. Although as long as the American army avoided destruction, the British could never hope to actually win the war.

            You might say that the Americans simply outlasted the British.

            1. Jessica

              Arguably, the British had given up on New England not long after 1776 and by the end of the war seemed focused on holding on to the South. In many cases, independence movements by slaveholders were easier to suppress because they are as scared of their slaves as they are resentful of the mother country. Florida and the Caribbean Islands did not join the rebellion.
              So what the Army was necessary for was the independence of the South.

      2. tegnost

        I’ll recommend going the whole way through, there was sort of pause in the middle and I almost bailed but it does get to the point.

    2. Fireship

      As I always say, the defining feature of American society is its vicious cruelty to the weak and powerless. Americans are horrible people. Most of us in the rest of the world fear and hate you. Unfortunately, many on this blog are still not ready to admit that the average American is a bad person, and will instead seek to blame “the elites”, “the powers that be”, “the media”, or “the system”. Are any of you prepared to accept that maybe, just maybe, that Americans are the problem?

      1. super extra

        wow helpful comment Fireship, when ‘we’ admit ‘we’re’ horrible what happens then? Maybe try to get to the point – I suspect it is ‘change who you allow to rule you and by extension who will ruin the world’ – without the thick layer of insult. As team blue in the states likes to insist ‘we need to have a conversation about’ something they really just want to shut down, sounds like you just want to make sure every American knows you blame them for the state of the world. Noted! Perhaps you’d care to note that people here are also seeking ways to enact that change and the insults are unnecessary!

        1. hunkerdown

          Oh yes, that Song Dynasty piece on the metaphysical republic is a must-read. Especially for fans of Morris Berman.

        2. foghorn longhorn

          Alex, I’ll take War for $1000.
          Name the only nation-state to detonate not one, but two atomic bombs over civilian metropolitan areas.
          Contestant 1, Who is nazi Germany?
          Oh sorry, wrong answer.
          Contestant , Who is russiarussiarussia?
          Oh sorry, wrong answer.
          Contestant 3, Um, who is the USA?
          We have a winner.

          1. JBird4049

            Not to minimize the war crimes of the British, Japanese, Soviets, Germans, Hungarians, Czechoslovakians, and Yugoslavians… what with the mass ethnic cleansings, mass exterminations setting aside the actual Holocaust with its eleven million dead… the deliberate liquidation of entire classes of the educated, politicians, administrators, soldiers/POWs in occupied countries… plus the fire bombings, biological warfare, mass human experimentation, unrestricted submarine warfare and aerial attacks on men, women, and children everywhere by anyone with an airforce or a navy… I guess the Hiroshima and Nagasaki Bombings were uniquely evil acts although they were on par with Dresden and Hamburg, and less than Tokyo’s firebombing.

            Just saying.

      2. Massinissa

        “the defining feature of American society is its vicious cruelty to the weak and powerless. Americans are horrible people”

        Wait, so, are the weak and powerless people here horrible people too? Or just the ones that aren’t weak and powerless?

        Please don’t speak in such ridiculously broad generalities.

        1. Michaelmas

          I’m a non-American who’s lived here on and off for decades on a green card and even did a year of American high school when I was young.

          I wouldn’t say Americans as a general population are more viciously cruel, horrible, etc., and I’ve known many to be personally kind.

          I would say that, as a generalization, the mass of Americans are the stupidest population in a developed nation on the planet. That’s not innate or genetically caused, necessarily. It’s the increasingly poor education and the fact that they spend hours daily looking at screens feeding them propaganda. Next to the Han Chinese, Americans are the most propagandized people on the planet.

          1. Synoia

            I would say that, as a generalization, the mass of Americans are the stupidest

            Totally unfair and untrue.

            Americans: Continually Subject to multiple sources of conflicting and confusing agitprop, much of it propounded by their own government to conceal their Government’s real intentions.

            Aka: The Lying liars Lie Over and over Again.

            We been told so many lies, that if we were told the truth, we would not be able to believe it.

            1. JTMcPhee

              A constant diet of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, served up by all the sous chefs who prepare the many versions of Bernays Sauce, in product advertising, “education,” from the Panopticon agencies… Not a good base for a healthy populace.

              Of course, we still have no agreement on what kind of political economy we might and ought to make manifest. And what Money is…

            2. Michaelmas

              Synoia; ‘Americans: Continually Subject to multiple sources of conflicting and confusing agitprop, much of it propounded by their own government to conceal their Government’s real intentions … We been told so many lies, that if we were told the truth, we would not be able to believe it.’

              I stipulated that qualification.

              And, no, beyond that, I don’t believe I’m being unfair. I’ve encountered American kids who’ve made it into university who can’t construct a sentence with a clause, and sat across the table from middle managers who move their lips when they read.

      3. rl

        As I always say,

        You do. I don’t know who is helped or what is improved by it. If you really think this way, “nothing is possible” could equally well be your motto. And if you don’t really think this way, surely there are better uses of your time and vocabulary.

        Americans are the problem?

        Plenty of us accept that, if on different terms than yours. Some of us believe that this also means that Americans must be the solution to our own woes. That is why we bother.

      4. Pelham

        You’re conflating the American people with our leadership. The two are radically different and irretrievably separate.

      5. Randy G

        Fireship — Which country do you live in? Just so we here in the greatest country in the history of the universe can schedule a bakers dozen of hydrogen bombs to rain down on you — and help to improve attitude and morale in your little backwater of the world.

        (Only joking.)

        I do consider the American Empire evil — and its lies, brutality and corruption are seeping deeply into the heartland. The frustrating thing is seeing most of the corrupt national elites of other nations helping to prop up the U.S. Empire — even as it grows more vicious, senile and destructive.

      6. drumlin woodchuckles

        Well, Fireship, thank you so much for sending over your best and brightest to get the party started, eh?

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Exclusive: Biden in no rush to lift Venezuela sanctions, seeks ‘serious steps’ by Maduro”

    ‘President Joe Biden’s administration is in “no rush” to lift U.S. sanctions on Venezuela but would consider easing them if President Nicolas Maduro takes confidence-building steps showing he is ready to negotiate seriously with the opposition, a White House official told Reuters.’

    The translation of that is for Meduro to step down and let the unelected Greedo become President so that he can sell Venezuela’s oil out. Trump may be gone but Washington still wants that oil at a knock-down price. Actually the script writes itself.

    A few American bases so that they can teach the Venezuelan security forces how to crack down on mostly non-white locals. Having a friendly media establishment recruited and any dissenting voices silenced. Privatization of all Venezuela’s resources and institutions to for-profit corporation, none of whom will be local. Elimination of taxes on businesses, reduction of government services to people, even if profitable. Relaxation of financial regulations so that foreign corporation can move in with hot money and buy what they like. The reduction of the Venezuelan armed forces and a reorientation so that they are focused on internal policing. And so on.

    Then about a year or two later it will be commentated upon how many Venezuelans are banging on the US-Mexican border, trying to get in.

    1. a different chris

      haha I see some Bright Young Thing at the White House reading your post, turning it into bullet points and presenting it as a Power Point (no more than three bullet points per slide! BTW).

      Joe slowly (and carefully, might fall off) nodding his aged head at the presentation.

    2. Procopius

      A few American bases so that they can teach the Venezuelan security forces how to crack down on mostly non-white locals.

      We don’t need any bases there to do that. Have you never heard of the School of the Americas?

    1. David

      Yes, and it’s only the first of a long series of cases being brought against the former President, the most important of which concerns the alleged funding by the Libyan state of his 2007 election campaign. The verdict on this case was promised for today and it’s had the whole French political and media class on the edge of its seat since this morning.
      The case is interesting because it relates to events after Sarkozy was defeated in the 2012 election. Knowing that he was under investigation for all sorts of things, he tried to get a senior magistrate to provide him with details of the investigation, in return for Sarkozy’s help in getting a top job he wanted. It’s a sordid story, typical of a sordid little man, whose problems with the justice system are by no means over yet.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Whatever you say about the deep corruption within the French state, at least occasionally they do actually arrest and convict their former leaders. It would be nice if other countries followed suit.

        1. MK

          Every single US president would be in prison after leaving office (maybe not Carter, but certainly every other living former president as of today). That’s why we don’t do it.

          1. Jason

            They’d be in prison here at home if we had the power to enforce our own laws, and they’d be before the Hague if the international community had the power to enforce the international “norms” that the US itself was instrumental in crafting.

  9. GramSci

    Right now, we should be less worried about robots taking human jobs than people in low-skilled positions being forced to work like robots.

    It’s not just low-paying jobs. Most of the college-masticated workforce works at boolsheet jawbs as competitive cage wrestlers digging digital ditches and filling them in again. They’re like teams of chess-playing robots. The winners get to declare the losers “redundant”.

    1. GramSci

      Speaking of which, the Akismet spell-checker keeps getting better-and-better, sending the previous comment into moderation.

      1. Lee

        I find more often than not that using the quote function gets my comments sent to moderation. Using quotation marks instead seems to lessen the chances of comments languishing in the waiting room.

    2. Pelham

      For this reason and many, many others like it, why would this not be a good time to completely divorce worker compensation from the perpetually silly, cruel, humiliating and infantilizing whims of the private sector and entrust this essential function to the entity best equipped to handle it, the currency issuer?

      If the principal argument for a single-payer healthcare system is that fickle private employers should not be trusted with the provision of such a vital service, isn’t an argument for biweekly paychecks under federal control even more immediate and compelling?

      1. Synoia

        Too simple for the US, The US really loves complex hard-to-understand profitable programs.

  10. Carolinian

    That Der Spiegel is downright swooney.

    Whatever approach is chosen, Berlin should coordinate closely with the European Commission, with its partners in Eastern Europe and with the United States to keep the new trans-Atlantic romance going and turn a totally unnecessary millstone around the German neck into a strategic East-West bargaining chip.

    Unfortunately the Big Man on Campus–to continue the language of high school–may not be interested in true love after all is more of a user. Another possibility is that the German media are the ones with the crush on their equally swooney American cousins.

  11. cnchal

    > How the automation economy can turn human workers into robots Axios

    In this article, human workers are those doomed to work in any ecommerce warehouse.

    “Warehouses” — which have very narrow profit margins — “have engineered the environment to make the human ability to cope with uncertainty as close as possible to automation,” says Beane. “They want fewer skilled touches over time to make money.”

    That in of itself isn’t new, but for e-commerce warehouse workers — often in geographically isolated locations, working long shifts, and unable to effectively unionize — that means there is “no energy or time to learn the new skills” that would help them get ahead of automation.

    “You are essentially a robot while doing this job,” says Beane. But what might be worse is the way that human workers “become institutionalized to that robotic job by the constraints of the environment.”

    Left untouched is what happens when the human robot can’t keep up with the actual robot anymore. They are fired, left to heal their wounds in a whimpering heap, disposed of like trash.

    Perhaps better to ignore that than thinking of the misery inflicted on the people in the chain of production to deliver Chinese crapola to your door.

    I think ecommerce is cooked. I know, a contrary position for sure, but I have my reasons, and a big one is the “very narrow profit margins”. Churning through hundreds of billions of dollars and simultaneously brutalizing your employees to squeek out a narrow profit is not a recipe for success.

    From the “very narrow profit margins” article.

    Similar to small parcel carriers, the shift, driven by COVID-19, from commercial brick and mortar purchases to residential e-commerce purchases has created a strain on many retailers’ profitability. In general, brick and mortar retail sales are more profitable than e-commerce sales as the latter often have to subsidize shipping costs. Furthermore, fulfillment accuracy and speed to customer are critical, but it’s very costly to live up to customer expectations, leading to a struggle with e-commerce profitability.

    Amazon, the largest e-commerce provider in the US, has built an intricate network that includes fulfillment centers, delivery stations, inbound and outbound sortation facilities, Amazon Prime hubs, and returns centers. It is a freight broker, a freight forwarder, an airline and a last-mile delivery provider all while promising next day delivery to its Prime members. However, its last-mile delivery network is limited in reach and continues to remain dependent on outsourced last-mile providers such as UPS, the USPS, and regional carriers and couriers. Shipping costs continue to be a major drain on profitability as Q2 costs (+60% over LY) escalated much more rapidly than revenues (+40% over LY).

    Amazon stawk is worth what, a couple of trillion or so? You have a million warehouse slaves tied to the whipping post and eighty thousand “office” workers that ride herd on the warehouse workers and that aim the money grabbing algorithms at any third party seller to grab their money or even their entire business by copying the product. Forced advertising or you aren’t found is another algorithm aimed at sellers.

    Thats before we consider millions of fake product reviews, the absurd return rate, the copyright infringements, the fake crapola from China and elsewhere . . . I could go on but will stop here.

    To top it off, corrupt governments shovel subsidies to Amazon whenever they build a new torture chamber and grossly overpay for storing ones and zeros, which is used to subsidize the money losing or narrow profit warehouses.

    I smell a big stinky rat. His name is Bezos.

    1. Darthbobber

      “They want fewer skilled touches over time to make money.”
      All capitalists want this to the extent possible. Taylor all those years ago was already breaking this down to things like how good you needed to be with a knife to make certain cuts reliably, and wanted to ensure that you only used the more skilled labor to the extent absolutely necessary.

      Following from there were the industrial systems planners, who aim to centralize thought at the planning level, down to the last Therblig.

  12. a different chris

    Re Texas disaster:

    >But they might have averted the much higher costs Texans now face for business disruption, broken pipes, flooding, and spiking electric bills

    If Texas was a country, wouldn’t fixing all these things result in a GDP spike? Watch for it when they talk about “explosive growth in Texas neener neener you commies” next year….

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      This sounds like “The Broken Window Fallacy.”

      The Broken Window Fallacy

      In Bastiat’s tale, a boy breaks a window. The townspeople looking on decide that the boy has actually done the community a service because his father will have to pay the town’s glazier to replace the broken pane. The glazier will then spend the extra money on something else, jump-starting the local economy. The onlookers come to believe that breaking windows stimulates the economy.1

      Bastiat points out that further analysis exposes the fallacy. By forcing his father to pay for a window, the boy has reduced his father’s disposable income. His father will not be able to purchase new shoes or some other luxury good. Productivity has also decreased, as the time the father spends dealing with the broken window could have been put to better use. Thus, the broken window might help the glazier, but at the same time, it robs other industries and reduces the amount spent on other goods.

      It has also been reported that Texas does not have enough skilled professionals to fix the massive amount of damage in a timely manner, and will try to recruit them from other states. Presumably that will require paying more than normal for the work, and that money will leave the Texas economy to be spent elsewhere.

      Dunno how “amenable” insurance companies will be to paying inflated costs due to skill scarcity and inevitable price gouging. I suppose they’ll decide that when they’re finished rejecting as many claims as possible based on the parsing of policy language that invariably follows these natural disasters. Mental health professionals. such as they are, might get an economic boost out of this, however.

      So, it may not be as simple as disaster is great news for gdp.

      1. Wukchumni

        It has also been reported that Texas does not have enough skilled professionals to fix the massive amount of damage in a timely manner, and will try to recruit them from other states. Presumably that will require paying more than normal for the work, and that money will leave the Texas economy to be spent elsewhere.

        I don’t think most plumbers in other states are hurting for money, and to up and leave your own customer base for a few months would have to make it very worth their while, and oh did I mention there’s a pandemic going on?

        Any non Texas plumbers out there want to chime in?

        What would it take in order to fix pipes in the loan star state, 3x the usual rate, 4x?

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          How long, do you think, before “learn to code” turns into “learn to plumb?”

          Pressing all those function keys to make the magic happen is a whole lotta fun until the toilet doesn’t flush.

        2. lordkoos

          I think there will be a lot of people needing work and claiming to be plumbers coming into Texas… homeowners beware.

      2. Pelham

        I wonder whether the broken window fallacy breaks down in some cases. For instance, if an economy is functioning at a low level, many workers can’t find work and a lot of productive capacity is sitting idle because the currency issuer — for some cockamamie reason — refuses to issue enough currency, might it not be a good idea for someone to blow something up and create an emergency that the currency issuer is compelled to respond to?

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Scientists Talked To People In Their Dreams. They Answered”

    ‘Sleepers would respond by moving their eyes or twitching their faces in a certain way to indicate their answers.’

    Not sure why these antics are necessary. I know for a fact that you can talk to people in their sleep and they will respond although I don’t recall if they were lucid dreaming or not. That would be interesting itself for a set of experiments.

  14. Michael Ismoe

    Cork-based nuns breach Covid guidelines to attend exorcism of the Dáil

    We say insurrection; the Irish say exorcism. Apparently there is an epidemic in people in weird headgear attacking national legislatures. Who will protect us from the Shriner’s?

    OTOH – if they do an exorcism at The Capitol will Mitch and Cruella DeVille just zoom out of there like a acene from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”? Does gelatto protect you from Holy Water?

    1. Synoia

      Cork-based nuns? How does one make nuns from Cork? Do they go “pop” when extracted?

      Or should the phrase be: Nuns from the City of Cork?

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Little League wants all your information”

    Sure, why not sign along with something like that? I don’t see a problem here. Just as soon as they sign a piece of paper saying that in case you are the subject of identity theft, that they will freely admit civil and criminal legal liability for any consequences of this, including the awarding of any punitive damages in a court of law.

    If not, get your kids to sign up for another sport instead. How about cricket?

    1. Wukchumni

      When I was in Little League it came with an entrepreneurial bent in that we had to go knocking on doors, hawking ‘World’s Finest Chocolate’ bars in order to pay for balls & bats for the season. We wore 10 year old hand me down uniforms, and the most pressing information wasn’t 3 forms of i.d., it was the light bulb on top of the snack shack, and when it went on, it was game over no matter the score as it had gotten too dark to play.

      If you were ahead all eyes were on it, and if you were behind in the game it was the same gig, but with more of a sense of urgency.

      It is common now for kids to be ranked in terms of ability almost as if they were pro athletes as far as picking sports teams go, but nobody cared circa 1971, if you weren’t very good you’d end up playing right field-a safe place as few right handed kids could hit to the opposite field, play ball!

      1. Lee

        As a righty, I made my Little League bones by being able to hit to right field. Maybe it was more a matter of being slow to swing than the result of skill. Nowadays, I wonder of I’d be accused of picking on less adept players and thus engaging in a form of bullying.

        1. Wukchumni

          It took a certain kind of juvenile delinquent bully to have made fun of our sponsor and us one year when we had IHOP in large letters on the back of our uniforms. Couldn’t have ended up with something mundane and mock-free such as Pat’s Texaco, no chance.

    2. Andrew

      Away games…six kids in the back seat of a 72′ Nova with the coach driving 93 mph and the equipment manager passing him beer; the rest of the team in a Ford Galaxy 500 coming in behind at 89mph, whipping a louie in the parking lot for losing. Dirty jokes and swear words.

    3. Maritimer

      Most sports today are top to bottom controlled by the Elite Oligarchs through Monopolies.

      Just look at the NFL with its feeder league being Universities many of which are supported by State and Federal tax dollars.

      MLB has just trashed Minor League Baseball so they can be more profitable.

      Then there’s the hallowed, revered Olympics where you can find numerous articles if you duck duck “Olympics corruption”

      Sports Elite Oligarchs motto “Get out of line and You’ll never play on this field again!”

      Maybe Horseshoes is still uncorrupted.

  16. bob

    “Andrew Cuomo Is Finished Ross Barkan, Political Currents. That’s a damn shame.

    He may not resign. But his era of dominance is over. ”

    I’d love for this to be true. I have seen nothing that will lead to that. He has had a few people cower out into the light to call him out. He’s been doing this for decades. Everyone is still afraid of him.

    As much as I want to credit the women who came forward, there needs to be A LOT more follow though by a A LOT more people who have been subject to the bullying, abuse and lying.

    Also- Who is the person who takes over? There is no clear successor.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      No clear successor isn’t a problem. Cuomo has been able to get away withe a bunch over the years because of his connections to the “glorious past” and subsequently avoided accountability that would have come down on someone without family connections. After all, he is married to a Kennedy. How could a Kennedy adjacent person be bad? The problem is and always has been a lack of accountability afforded him by his last name.

      1. bob

        How is not having someone to step in and be the governor not a problem when you are trying to replace the governor, who as you point out, is a kennedy?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Because there is a lt Governor. There is a succession plan. It’s how Patterson became governor.

          1. bob

            From the link-

            “He cannot be made to simply step aside, and his survival instincts will never allow him to do so. His lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, is not well-known, and has no leverage of her own. A weakened Cuomo is not a Cuomo who will flee. ”

            He does not leave without a giant fight, he will burn it down, and everyone around him, before he goes.

      2. bob

        This, the Moreland Omission as I call it, was the genesis of Cuomo’s reign. Nothing has changed. He used that to dig up dirt on everyone in state government at the time. There is a lot of dirt on NY politics, and he has it all. He can pull it out at his will.

        He then suspended the commission, leading to the omission. Bill Fitzpatrick, the only person in NY who might rival Cuomo in vindictive malice, also get a front row seat to the findings which were never found.

        That link really tries hard to demonstrate the Historicness of Cuomo, while never even really considering how you remove him from power. Even if he gets removed, which the link points out is unlikely what then? Cuomo is still there, probably still in charge of NYS government for a long time. The authors suggestions that the voters try to get Cuomo not to run in the primary are just a demonstration of his lack of knowledge of Cuomo character. He’s not going anywhere.

        Vote! this is a great demonstration of why that doesn’t work.

      3. Pat

        Never forget his sainted father Mario, he came from a New York family dynasty of his own.

        I’ve never been sure if Mario really would be appalled by Andy, or he was just better at providing crumbs when necessary and hiding his true character. History being written by the winners and all.

        1. bob

          Andy was Mario’s bagman. If you were late with your donations, Andy came calling. I believe they gave Andy the official title of “driver” but there was no mistake what was happening when Andy paid you a visit.

          Mario knew exactly what Andy was doing, and probably told him to do it.

      4. petal

        Him and Kerry Kennedy divorced some time ago(2005), then he shacked up with tv chef Sandra Lee(2005-2019), then they split up recently and she hauled it out to California.

        1. bob

          “Michaela Kennedy-Cuomo, Cara Kennedy-Cuomo, Mariah Kennedy-Cuomo”

          That’s how they title themselves. I know a few people who have met the daughters and they use the full hyphenated name when they introduce themselves. It’s a mouthful.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      I am seriously concerned at the absence of comment from that stalwart women’s champion and presidential aspirant, kirsten gillibrand. This situation would seem to be a tailor-made branding exercise for one who has staked her claim so completely in the harassment lane. Has the covid cat got her tongue?

      On second thought, I’m not all that concerned. Her silence is a welcome respite from all that self-aggrandizing shrillness.

      1. Pat

        Senator Kristen Gillibrand is Senator because of Andrew Cuomo. Enjoy the respite, she will be missing in action until the stake is fully in and Cuomo bursts into flame in the sunlight.

        There will be a whole lot of the usual suspects missing until he is “well and truly dead”, there is too much to lose otherwise.

      2. petal

        After leading charge vs. Al Franken, Sen. Gillibrand dodges Gov. Cuomo scandal
        Full article at the link.
        “New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appears to be giving Gov. Andrew Cuomo a long leash on the sexual harassment allegations leveled against him by a former aide — despite once leading the charge that led to then-Sen. Al Franken’s resignation over similar claims.

        “I have not read her allegations or her post, her Medium post,” Gillibrand told reporters on a call Thursday afternoon — a day after Cuomo accuser Lindsey Boylan came forward igniting widespread media coverage.

        “But as I said, everyone has a right to be able to come forward, speak their truth, and be heard. And that’s true for her and that’s also true for Gov. Cuomo.””

  17. Joe Schultz

    On “Measuring Household Distress and Potential Policy Impacts:” Apparently the St. Louis Fed doesn’t think renters experience household distress. All the housing factors they use apply to home ownership. From what I can find, about 1/3 of all households are renters. At first blush, one might hypothesize that more renters may be struggling with housing issues than home owners. This report has the appearance of being intended as All is Well window dressing or that it’s simply easier to find household data for owned properties, aka looking under the streetlight for lost keys.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “A Possible Solution to the Nord Stream 2 Conundrum”

    Gawd, the Spiegel is bad. It must be run by the Atlantic Council or something. A diplomatic train wreck being caused here? What is Biden going to do? Bring all those US troops out of Germany? Stop selling them military equipment? As for completing ‘the construction of the pipeline while conditioning its use on EU decisions and Russian behavior’, that will never work. As an example, Navalny goes on a hunger strike unless he is freed and the Russians say ‘Nyet’. Will the EU tell Germany to cut the gas until Navalny is freed? The European Parliament has already voted against the Nordstream II so they would just be itching for an excuse to do so.

    I especially love the bit where it says ‘The German message should be clear: It is now entirely up to Russia to help re-create political circumstances and an atmosphere which would enable Berlin to give the green light to the gas flow.’ I don’t even need to do any research to know that it is always the US or the EU that sanctions Russia first for any excuse. So how is it up to Russia? When the Russians introduced corresponding sanctions against the EU in response to theirs, the EU screamed like stuck pigs. What was funny at the time was how it was Obama getting the EU to do this but at the same time, trade between Russia and the US was continuously rising.

    It is OK for countries like the eastern European ones as well as the US to demand that Germany stop construction but will they pick up the tab for all the legal ramifications for the non-fulfillment of this contract? Will they compensate Germany as it will not have a secure supply of gas which it would have had with this pipeline? (crickets). And that suggested “Euro-Atlantic Energy Compact” is just a way to get Germany to ship truckloads of money out of the country to Brussels and places like the Ukraine. The author – Wolfgang Ischinger – is a career diplomat so he must know that this is just a bunch of malarkey. But I suspect what loyalties he actually has-

  19. Wukchumni

    Today is the day that snow measurements are made throughout the state, and if anything its worse than last year, this winter of missed content. Here in the Southern Sierra we’re looking @ less than 50% of an average winter snowpack.

    The current drought monitor map looks like a quatropus about to devour Nevada, Arizona, Utah & New Mexico, all experiencing exceptional droughts.

  20. Wukchumni

    I feel as if adolescents have been left out of the cryptocurrency game and thats a shame, because markets.

    I’m proud to announce the launch of Zitcoin which fluctuates in value based on reported acne breakouts & blackheads online.

    1. chuck roast

      Man, you’re launching a valuable new coin every week. When are you going to launch the Trebuchetcoin? It would be kind of like the self-licking ice cream cone.

      1. Wukchumni

        I had a little hitch in my giddy up when one of my former launches: Bitchcoin (the value goes up every time it gets denigrated by somebody online) was suddenly delisted from the Pago Pago crypto exchange, despite rocketing into the lower middle ranks of imaginary money with all the kvetching from semper wi-fi that it was a Fonzi scheme (Ayyy!) clicking over like a perpetual notion machine or a Triumph Trophy TR5.

        Despite the setback in Samoa, we feel we’re onto something.

  21. Andrew Watts

    Bad URL.

    RE: North Korea’s Missed Opportunity: The Unique, Dovish Moment of the Overlapping Trump and Moon Presidencies

    I probably shouldn’t have linked to the correct url because this isn’t worth reading at all. Both authors blame the North Koreans for everything and proclaim that any further negotiations aren’t likely and will end in failure. They neglected to mention the incident with Bolton where he said that North Korea could be handled the same way as Libya was under Gaddafi. Unsurprisingly, this enraged North Korea. They completely missed how perception of the US is changing since the pandemic started. South Korea modeled their health institutions along the same lines as the CDC so they’re particularly horrified by the ravages COVID has wrought on America.

    I remain optimistic that the normalization of diplomatic ties with North Korea is still a possibility for a few reasons. Firstly, the peace movement has only been galvanized by Trump. Eventually this development will lead the heroic cheerleaders of our glorious victories in Iraq and Afghanistan into a dilemma. They will increasingly have to defer to Seoul regarding affairs on the peninsula or they will risk losing the alliance with South Korea. The government under Moon might be the last opportunity the US has to maintain the US-South Korean alliance. Secondly, the North Korean government hasn’t ruled out future negotiations with Moon. Their media/propaganda apparatus has gone out of it’s way not to criticize him by name. Thirdly, Moon hasn’t given up and has even tried to mend ties with Japan regarding the inclusion of North Korea at the Olympics. Last, but not least, the Koreans have the perfect scapegoat in Trump or maybe just his advisors for the lack of progress at the various summits.

    Alternatively, I suppose we can have a war with a Chinese proxy. That outcome isn’t necessarily to America’s advantage as the Korean War wasn’t exactly a win. Beijing will also be delighted they won’t have to directly confront the US. They will gain substantial diplomatic capital on the peninsula at the expense of Washington regardless of the outcome of the war.

  22. Andrew Watts

    RE: Are Declassed Professionals in the United States like Surplus Song Dynasty Civil Servants?

    Probably not. The inability of the federal government to effectively respond to the pandemic and the economic ramifications has destabilized the US and only accelerated it’s decline. The pandemic killed half a million people and we don’t know how many froze to death in Texas. People are angry and are either looking for a scapegoat… or a reason to riot. I have no trouble believing we’re in the early stages of a revolution. The petty bougie types are radicalizing and if conditions don’t improve later this year, or in subsequent years, political violence will increasingly become the norm.

    In Song China there was a degree of stability and their culture wasn’t built upon the expectation of class mobility. You could be poor, yet be a respected, and valued member of the community. In the United States the attitude is that you’re a loser and you deserve nothing. I’m not sure there is much of a communal spirit here either. Wearing a mask during a pandemic is fundamentally a civic duty. Yet there isn’t anybody making that argument here. In any case social class works differently in East Asian cultures.

    One of these cultures had a healthy society and social attitude and the other doesn’t.

    1. Massinissa

      To be fair, I’m not sure that social class works that way in modern China, either. At least not in the urbanized areas: life there is becoming a rush for capital and consumption of goods the way it is over here. Maybe in the rural areas it could still work that way, I wouldn’t know.

  23. tegnost

    I can’t recall seeing mentioned that one of the main differences between 10,000 debt forgiveness and 50,000 is that 50,000 would wipe a lot of loans, while 10,000 is a straight up giveaway to whoever owns distressed debt. The same “people” who will be collecting a lot of stimulus checks for never gonna be paid loans. Compared to the cost of college 10,000 is chump change. Looks like a buy signal to me.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I think your comment well explains Government preference for the $10K versus $50K number.

    2. pasha

      biden can only issue executive orders to cancel debts owed to the u.s. government. the average student debt owed to the government — as opposed to private banks — is around $10,000 (much of it from students who failed to graduate, or attended “for profit” scam colleges).

      1. tegnost

        the average student debt owed to the government — as opposed to private banks — is around $10,000
        link please possibly the original balance was only 10,000, now it’s a lot more due to the miracl of compound interest.
        Also many of those who didn’t graduate are defaulted and even a small loan from 20 years ago is gigantic loan now. How about biden forgives 10,000 off of principle, and if that wipes out the original loan, the interest should be cancelled.

  24. Peter Dorman

    NC’s daily links are great — I always go to them first — but you need to curate a little more carefully. Sometimes I get the impression a piece is linked because it seems to reinforce a favored meme and isn’t given any scrutiny. Example: today’s link to “Atlas, Ferguson, and Hanson: On Free Speech at Stanford”.

    This is a defense of the Hoover Institution by three, um, unreliable narrators that characterizes its opposition in this way:

    “In a recent meeting of the Stanford Faculty Senate, four professors (Joshua Landy, Stephen Monismith, David Palumbo-Liu and David Spiegel) presented and then subsequently published a farrago of falsehoods directed against various fellows of the Hoover Institution. Their complaint was, first, that the Hoover fellows’ views were unapologetically conservative and, second, that they appeared antithetical to the majority of those of the Stanford community—and were therefore properly subject to some sort of institutional and personal censure.”

    Doesn’t that tell you all you need to know? Do you really think four Stanford profs argued for censuring Hoover because it was (a) conservative and (b) in the minority? Fairly characterizing those you disagree with is the single most important piece of intellectual honesty.

    The problem with linking to stuff like this is that it not only wastes the time of readers, it also diminishes the NC brand, so to speak. It cuts into the glow that ought to attach to articles you link to. Going forward, at least skim stuff you put out for us to look at. It’s fine to introduce us to material we are likely to disagree with, but it should be honest and challenging.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      “Free Speech at Stanford”:
      “a defense of the Hoover Institution by three, um, unreliable narrators”
      “Do you really think four Stanford profs argued for censuring Hoover because it was (a) conservative and (b) in the minority?”
      ‘He said — she said’ along with your statement of faith in four Stanford profs is far from “all you need to know”. That the Hoover Institution is affiliated with Stanford University was news to me, and seems strange. The Hoover Institution is a partner of the Atlas Network of Neoliberal think tanks.

      Stanford University sits in the shadow of BigTech, which I believe tends to support the Biden ‘Liberal’ flavor of Neoliberalism. That combined with the apparent rise in Liberal “wokeness” and post election bashing of Trump and Trump supporters dissuades me from immediately concluding in favor of four Stanford professors over three Fellows of the Hoover Institution. I am more inclined to mistrust both sides of this tempest, and wonder why it was reported in “The Stanford Review”.

      This link raised many questions and did not provide “all I need to know”. I have no idea what favored meme you believe the piece reinforced.

    2. lambert strether

      I didn’t think readers needed me to add “Niall Ferguson. That’s a damn shame.” after the link, but you do you,

    3. Offtrail

      What got me about the Hansen, Ferguson, Atlas article was finding out that the “virulently antisemitic material” they mentioned was Alison Weir’s site If Americans Knew, which is strongly critical of Israel and its American lobby, but not antisemitic.

      This is not surprising based on what I know of Hansen and Ferguson.

    4. Peter Dorman

      My original reaction to the linked piece (published in Peter Thiel’s home journal) was that it was selected because it seemed to fit the general idea of “protest against cancel culture political correctness in academia run amok” without consideration for the particulars of who wrote it and whether it offered a credible account of the opposition to Hoover at Stanford. The response to what I wrote confirms this. It seems to all be about which-side-are-you-on, freedom of thought versus censorious wokesters, and not the specifics of what I said.

      This type of categorical thinking undermines the value of NC’s curation.

      Naturally, I’m not advocating that anyone be cancelled or silenced or whatever. It’s not about whether this or that faction at Stanford has right and justice on its side. It’s entirely about the exercise of judgment in what readings (or podcasts or videos) to recommend. Even if someone like Scott Atlas is on the side of the angels regarding a particular issue, and it is certainly possible, NC should not encourage his writings if they aren’t of value.

      If you disagree with me, point to the value you think NC readers will get from reading this piece.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > If you disagree with me, point to the value you think NC readers will get from reading this piece.

        Because today is my day to be kind, I won’t point out that this is an assignment.

        In any case, besides “know your enemy,” the current struggles around academic (and journalistic) freedom are newsworthy, especially when they involve the prominent, as here. If the standard were “the particulars of who wrote it”, and “whether it offered a credible account” we would be able to publish hardly anything on contemporary affairs from the Times or the Post, for example. Fortunately, we have a sophisticated readership who can add the appropriate dose of salts, source by source.

        1. Peter Dorman

          The natural tendency is to be snarky in reply, but instead I’ll offer these three links about the kerfuffle at Stanford. This piece from Stanford News describes the debate over Scott Atlas among Stanford faculty. This second one from the Stanford Daily (not the right-wing “independent” paper NC initially linked to) offers a lot of background on the larger effort to rein in the Hoover Institution. And finally there is this from the Chronicle of Higher Ed.

          If the above is not dismissed as fake news, a few observations emerge. (a) Stanford affiliation gives an imprimatur to charlatans like Atlas, and it is reasonable for Stanford faculty to discuss what to do about it. (b) Hoover enjoys an autonomy that exceeds that of any other branch of the university, to the extent that whether it is even a part of it is controversial. Hoover is a part of Stanford when it’s convenient and separate when it’s not. (c) Money plays an important role in this dispute. Hoover’s endowment exceeds half a billion dollars, donated by conservatives who see value in an autonomous, right wing implant within a major university.

          I draw no particular conclusion from this. I haven’t gone into it enough to know what I would favor if I were on the Stanford faculty. I think it’s a legitimate issue and not well served by the misleading representation it received from Atlas et al. And yes, when you read the summary of what they claimed the opposition to them was about early in their article, you knew everything you needed to know.

          1. flora

            Thanks for the links. (Would you have offered them without the challenge from L to your top thread comment? ;) )

          2. Lambert Strether Post author

            I wrote:

            Fortunately, we have a sophisticated readership who can add the appropriate dose of salts, source by source.

            I’m glad you’ve seen the light. Thanks for the links.

  25. heresy101

    Besides China moving aggressively on digital currency and becoming the largest economy in the world, it is moving forward on massive transportation infrastructure investments:
    “Beijing aims to increase the national high-speed railway network to 70,000km (43,500 miles) by 2035 – an 84 per cent increase from the estimated 38,000km at the end of last year, according to a blueprint jointly released on Wednesday by the Central Committee of the ruling Communist Party and the State Council, the country’s cabinet.”
    “Chinese officials have also stressed that the domestic transport network must be expanded to help narrow the wealth gap between rural and urban areas and among different cities.”

    Additionally, China is showing the way to deal with gig companies like Uber and showing that the US is truly a third world country. This 21 minute video is worth watching to see how real change is happening.

    The 12 million person city of Shenzen has an impressive all electric bus and electric taxis transportation system. At 3:24 all the buses and taxi locations are shown on a screen in real time and 13:56 the rest areas, cafes, gyms are described for the drivers while charging. A gig company can’t compete with this.

    A video of all the buses and taxis is:

    1. Synoia

      Shenzhen’s airport and is eve opening, and its integration into the City’s outstanding.

      I’ve not seen anything comparable. It makes Hing Kong look second class.

  26. ChrisPacific

    The Kristian Andersen tweet series included an excellent debunking of the story about the California variant being responsible for the case spike in that state, which I saw presented in a news article practically as an established fact. Bad reporting, indeed.

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