Links 3/16/2021

The bizarre tale of the world’s last lost tourist, who thought Maine was San Francisco SFGate (Anthony L)

Florida’s feral hogs: a pervasive pest – but a profitable one for some Guardian (resilc)

Firefly tourism has a surprising dark side Popular Science (resilc). When I was a kid and we lived in Luke, Maryland (in the panhandle), we’d have tons in our yard and would capture them in a bottle, where they’d blink in synch. I don’t recall if we let them go but I am pretty sure my father would have, he killed things only if there was a good reason, like eating them.

Ancient leaves preserved under a mile of Greenland’s ice – and lost in a freezer for years – hold lessons about climate change Yahoo (Kevin W)

The Race To Develop Plastic-Eating Bacteria Forbes (David L)

Quantum Mechanics, the Chinese Room Experiment and the Limits of Understanding Scientific American (Robert M). From last week, still germane.

Climate change: Jet fuel from waste ‘dramatically lowers’ emissions BBC (David L)

Shocking Findings Show the Amazon May Already Be a Greenhouse Gas Emitter Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Japan Inc driving towards a hydrogen energy future Asia Times (Kevin W)

Could we recycle plastic bags into fabrics of the future? PhysOrg (Robert M)

Pro tip: if you ever hide under a tree in a thunderstorm, take everything metal off your body (if that means taking off pants with zippers, so be it. Flab and wrinkles be damned). It’s the metal that will conduct any electrical charge into your body. Otherwise the current goes over your skin, which is much less bad.

UPDATE Oops, trees are just a bad idea even with risk reduction measures. While I did read of someone who wasn’t electrocuted when a tree was hit by virtue of tossing his watch and keys away from him, he was lucky. Trees can carry a ground charge through their roots or even just puddles and dirt if the ground is saturated enough. And a shorter tree is no protection; contrary to popular perceptions, lightening doesn’t necessarily hit the tallest object in an area.

Fukushima today: “I’m glad that I realized my mistake before I died.” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (guurst). The deliberate doctoring of medical data is so Japanese, sadly.


“A Worldwide Mutual Pact”​ – An Interview with Wendy Brown The Drift (Anthony L). More additions to my reading list!

‘A can of worms’: Experts weigh in on the vaccine passport debate Al Jazeera


Our covid-19 model estimates odds of hospitalisation and death Economist (Kevin C)

WHO Points To Wildlife Farms In Southern China As Likely Source Of Pandemic NPR (David L)


There’s no proof the Oxford vaccine causes blood clots. So why are people worried? Guardian

AstraZeneca insists its COVID-19 vaccine is safe and there is no link to blood clots, as 11 countries suspend its use Business Insider (Kevin W)

European drugs regulator calls emergency vaccine summit after EU states press pause on AstraZeneca jab rollout RT (Kevin W)


We Finally Have Covid-19 Vaccines. But Will Enough People Take Them? Watson Institute (podcast)

The White House is set to unveil a wide-reaching, billion-dollar campaign aimed at convincing every American to get vaccinated STAT. Actually $1.5 billion. I smell a grift. Didn’t they get the memo that when people have strong priors, presenting them with contradicting information only leads them to double down?

Shot Chasers: How Officials in Trump’s Lame-Duck White House Scrambled to Score COVID-19 Vaccinations Vanity Fair (Dr. Kevin)


After Covid, get ready for the Great Acceleration The Spectator (Dr. Kevin). I’m not big on declaring victory before combat is over.


China’s arms sales drop as ‘other nations buy American’ South China Morning Post (resilc)

China’s tech giants test way around Apple’s new privacy rules Financial Times. If Chinese firms can find ways to track Apple users, you can be sure the NSA already can. The only way to not be tracked is use a Faraday bag or leave your phone at home.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister warns the Biden Administration that if it ‘wants to sleep in peace’ for the next four years, ‘it must refrain from causing a stink at its first step’ Daily Mail


Myanmar junta pays dearly to sell its hated coup Asia Times


EU launches Brexit legal action against UK Financial Times

Brandon Lewis interview: Denial of the Irish Sea border is gone as SoS says parts of frontier are being ditched for good News Letter (guurst). Before you get annoyed at the generic title, they have a right to it: “News you can trust since 1737.”

Old Blighty

Things Between Meghan and the Palace Keep Getting Tenser New York Magazine. IMHO the Palace outflanked Meghan, who as press accounts like this one skip over, demanded to see the e-mails regarding her bullying, as if she had the right to demand documents! She was never going to get them but I assume intended to depict the failure to produce them as proof the accounts were (at best) distorted. The investigation not only allows the law firm to simply summarize any relevant information, but more important, allows the Royal Family to launder any additional high handed demands of staff though the investigation. If I’m right, this will show Meghan isn’t cunning enough o go into politics (plus she clearly doesn’t understand the job any better than joining the Royal Family).

The Royal Family always wins UnHerd (guurst)

Declining competition: a transatlantic challenge Bruegel (Kevin C)

Lula’s lessons for Iran before Brazil’s populist showdown begins The Saker

New Cold War

War Erupts Inside the Atlantic Council Over Article Questioning Washington’s Hostile Approach to Moscow Antiwar (Kevin W)



Saudi Arabia arrests hundreds in its latest corruption crackdown Al Jazeera (resilc)

Asma al-Assad risks loss of British citizenship as she faces possible terror charges Guardian. Kevin W: “This is Assad’s wife. A recent cancer survivor. They don’t know what else to do so they are going after a guy’s wife. How low is this.”

Capitol Seizure

Two people charged over assault of US police officer Brian Sicknick, who died after Capitol riot (Kevin W)


Democrats’ Revised Talking Points for the Biden Era Current Affairs (UserFriendly). Your daily dose of black humor.

Border crisis threatens Biden’s political momentum The Hill

Haaland becomes first-ever Native American in presidential Cabinet Politico (Kevin C)

Faced with limited resources, Indigenous communities built their own internet. Here’s how. Mashable (Mike M)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

U.S. Jesuit priests to raise reported $100 mln for descendants of slaves Yahoo (resilc)

Our Famously Free Press

Twitter Banned Me for Saying the ‘M’ Word: Memphis Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Evgenia Kovda on Matt Taibbi, Gogol, and Cancel Culture Yasha Levine

Hackers stole NFTs from Nifty Gateway users The Verge (resilc)

Texas power retailer Griddy files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Reuters

Controversy Still Follows CalPERS’ CIO Resignation Chief Investment Officer

CalPERS Held ‘Improper’ Meetings About Ben Meng’s Exit, Ex-Board Member Alleges Institutional Investor

Facebook agrees to pay News Corp for content in Australia Financial Times

OxyContin Owner Increases Settlement Offer to $4.28 Billion Wall Street Journal

Class Warfare

Putting the brakes on the spread of indecent work Ruth Dukes and Wolfgang Streeck, Social Europe (Anthony L). Uber v. Aslam.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Pixy when she was a kitten.”

And a bonus. I am a sucker for animal rescues:

Another bonus (dk):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. John A

    Re lightning and metal zips. A few years ago, two thai women were found dead under a tree in Hyde Park London, after a lightning storm. apparently the metal wire in one of their bras was what conducted the killing current. So not just zips, women should remove bras with metal wires.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Rubbish, man. Next thing you will be saying is that it is a bad idea to hold a sheet of corrugated iron over your head for protection in a lightning storm.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Oh, right, plus most bras have metal eyes and hooks.

      Whereas for the pants, unzipping and folding them down so the zipper and any rivets had a layer of fabric between them and your body might do.

    2. ex-PFC Chuck

      I beg to differ with the pro tip re the lightening strike. Those people almost certainly would have been electrocuted whether they had been nude or not. What made this all but certain was the fact they leaning on the tree with their feet a foot or so away from where its base met the soil. The lightening bolt connected with the tree somewhere above the video frame, whereupon it flowed from the point it hit onto the trunk and thence down into the ground. This current pulse was well into the tens of thousands of amperes. (The highest current surge from a lightening strike in electric utility substations I recall reading about measured about 200K amps.) The tree is nowhere near a perfect conductor, which means it has resistance. When a surge of current passes through a linear conductor it gives rise to a voltage difference between any two points on the conductor, and that voltage is directly proportional to both the resistance per unit length of the conductor, the distance between the two points, and the magnitude of the current pulse. Thus for a millisecond or two the potential difference between where their shoulders were touching the tree and where their feet touched the ground was deep into the thousands of volts, and the resistance at these two contact points wasn’t anywhere near the infinity it would have had to have been to prevent some of that current surge from passing through their bodies. They were even more screwed by their own actions because the shoulder contact points are close to their hearts. It only takes a current of about 10 milliamps to kill a person and those folks got many times that. Many people have been killed sheltering under trees even when not leaning on them.

      So what should you do if you’re, say, on a golf course during a thunderstorm? First and foremost stay away from the F*****g trees! People are killed by “ground potential rise” even when they’re not leaning on the tree, which is just athe worst thing you can do. First, drop metallic things – your golf clubs, your fishing pole or your shotgun – and walk at least 15 or 15 feet away. Next, squat down with your feet as close together as possible. If you have to put a hand on the ground for balance, do it as close to your feet and as briefly as possible. Finally stay that way until the worst of the storm passes. You’ll be soaked, but more than likely you’ll be alive.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I never said lean against the tree, but I now see that the roots can carry a ground charge, as can puddles. Ooops!

        I have read about people stripping off all their metal (think it was only a watch and keys on a chain, must have been the days before pervasive smart phones) not being hurt when a tree was hit, but it looks like they were lucky.

        However, yours truly cannot squat. Never could. Achilles tendons too tight. So what are people like me supposed to do?

        1. ex-PFC Chuck

          I know you didn’t. And it occurred to me I should change the beginning but I’d just gotten up and I was hungry so I just hit “post.”

          The issue is two fold. The first is to avoid being where lightening is more likely to strike if/when it occurs. Trees in otherwise open areas are lightening magnets. Obviously if you find yourself deep in a grove when the storm comes, you can’t avoid being under a tree. But the numbers are in your favor. With all those other targets around it’s less likely the bolt will hit one of the several you’re standing near. When you’re in the open squatting will perhaps slightly reduce the likelihood you’ll be struck but probably not by much if you’re away, but not too far away from a 50 foot tall tree.

          The second is, if lightening does strike close to you, to minimize the likelihood you’ll be exposed to a lightening bolt- induced potential difference between your two points of contact with a path where a brief but likely lethal pulse of current might be flowing. To minimize the damage it’s very important to keep your points of contact with the ground (usually wet feet) close together. This is because if you’re within a few feet of where the bolt enters the ground, for a few score microseconds the potential differences between points radiating out from that strike location can be in the hundreds or even thousands of volts per inch. Thus the wider your feet are apart the more current will be induced to flow up one leg and down the other. In the trade the phenomenon is called “ground potential rise.”

          Shoes may provide some attenuation of the current flow through you, but they’ll be soaked and the salty sweat of your feet will lower their resistance. The GPR phenomenon has been and continues to be studied by people in the electric utility industry. It’s also a serious threat in the vicinity of live but fallen conductors. Maintenance people are now being trained to do the “bunny hop” to move away from an arcing conductor on the ground until it can be disconnected. That’s something the general population should be made aware of as well. If you’re physically unable to do the bunny hop take very small steps.

          1. cocomaan

            Another great day in the comments section at Naked Capitalism.

            What if you went and laid down in a sand bunker? Those are below the curvature of the rest of the course. You’ll get soaked but it’s better than being dead.

          2. Jeotsu

            Specific example of simple protective measures when bringing in a lightning strike — in this case testing the fault protection in high voltage power lines. The electrical engineer (our neighbour, now retired) had stacked up some wooden pallets, which he stood atop while balanced on one foot. Simple protections to get him separated from the voltage potential difference about to be generated when they deliberately faulted the 400kV to ground that could pass through his heart.
            Likewise, in electrical substations it is always best to take small, shuffling steps. You never know when a fault might be causing a large ground potential. Another pro tip for male workers at such facilities, be sure when you stop to urinate you are not at the edge of the grounding mat (usually hidden under the gravel), as your stream of urine, landing outside this grounded area, will form a helpful conductive path for the potential difference! Ouch!

          3. ChrisPacific

            Ha. I can remember learning when I was in school what to do if you were stuck in a car in contact with live power lines (perhaps as a result of an accident). I recall that if you needed to exit the car (e.g. due to fire) then you were advised to jump out, with feet together, and continue jumping in that manner until you were a safe distance away. I never understood the reason for that advice until your explanation just now.

            (Why exactly I learned this in school I’m not sure, but I did, at some length).

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          i was kayaking a stretch of the San Saba River, many years ago, when one of those quick, strong summer storms materialised.
          i was worried most about flash flood, due to the topography…but concern quickly switched to lightening.
          no way to get out from under the trees, due to cliff walls…so i lay flat on the ground, in a hollow on a high part of the bank, so i was both elevated above the flood(which came, and was amazing/terrifying), and in a depression, to where everything was taller than me….i endeavored to become one with the ground, sink right in.

          I was of course naked(“wearing the river”, as it were), so had no issues with metal things, besides my artificial hip and poor man’s bionic ankle.
          it was a pretty scary half hour…prolly 2″ of rain in that time, crazy wind, trees whipping around and abundant and close lightening strikes all around me….burning tree just upriver.
          I’ve read that you’re supposed to squat and balance on the balls of your feet, minimizing ground contact…but I can’t do that, either…and i cannot run, either, for to get to the cliffside cave 100 yards away(haven’t moved faster than a brisk stagger in 30+ years)

          1. Rod

            In late June 2005, having solo summitted Tebegauche in the Sawatch of Colorado earlier in the day, I was dying my way up Shavano for a two fer when a Big Nasty came up flashing and booming to the direct west behind Tebegauche with a strong easterly wind holding it at bay about a mile or more off.
            Shavano’s N approach has a series of false summits and I had just cleared the last(I think) and could see the actual when the E wind stopped and that W wind rushed the storm toward me across the valley.
            It was awesome–in all its meanings.
            Being totally exposed above 14k I abandoned the climb within sight of the true summit( and maybe the low rock open shelter there) and had stumbled back down another 200′ in elevation when the hail hit me, in a grey shotgunned mass, scrambling through boulders and scree–with the lightening mixed in.
            Ozone and a deluge of rain in every breath I huffed.
            No where to shelter.
            Then, under all the raingear I had on, every hair on my body felt like it was standing on end.
            I convulsed into “The Squat” and pinched my eyes closed when the flash came hot on me, followed by the Crack Blast and sound wave that knocked me over (I think).
            I soiled myself (I discovered later since my gear was failing rapidly in sheets of rain).
            Everything got quiet under the loud static fizzling in my ears and i was flash blinded for a bit after.
            But the storm was not nearly done.
            Squatted between two boulders just above head height I stayed, eyes clamped, talking to my Creator. I could feel my lower legs numbing as i slowly soaked my way into Hypthermic shivers. My mind went someplace without time.
            After some time the lightning drifted over Shavano and onto the eastern plain leaving just driving rain and a window to get down.
            Except I was frozen into “The Squat”–lower legs numb and thighs full of raw electrical current whenever I tried unfold them from my now prone position in the rain flooding scree.
            I started a head down belly crawl down hill pulling my way over boulders and through leg nerves and blood resurgences trying to reclaim everything from the knees down. I crawled on-focused only on down- until I found a hiking pole I’d trown down on my way up. Tried to stand using it but the nerve shocks rubberized my muscles and fell badly jamming most of the fingers on my right hand and fracturing the pinkey–but now facing uphill noticed the other pole that I had crawled past some 50′ back upslope.
            I crawled back uphill on hands and knees and tears to get it and back down to my gear drop.
            And kept on hands and knees crawling scree down hill in the steady rain.
            In some time the rain slackened into a steady drizzle/mist and i was able to get stood up braced on a boulder, straighten the legs through the jizzies of nerves, and stagger on poles down to the saddle between Tebegauche and Shavano at about 13k.
            It was about 3+ hours after I time stamped the ascent on Shavano just before the storms onset.
            By that time the Sun was spotting through from the W and i was able to relax a minute or 60, then complete the descent into the valley between Anterro and Shavano.
            My buddy back at the camp said he had me in the binocs on the ascent until that ‘black cloud with all the lightening” swallowed Tebegauche and Shavano for a couple of hours.
            He had prayed i wasn’t up there for that.
            I did not climb anymore that season.
            I was, but am very alive far from that day now.

            Two years later, 2007, I was ascending Lincoln on a sun shine filled morning about 500ft past the mine at 13.2k in the saddle between Democrat and Lincoln when my big dog started dancing ahead of me and a group of hikers began screaming and running down the trail toward me–yelling “Ground Charges”
            I was very confused as they ran past followed by my boy Neeses(whom i caught going by me). For a brief moment I stood there.


            Then the dog started dancing with his hair frizzing straight out, as i also did as my hair stood up and things started to crackle and pop with each gyration we did.
            We ran down to that saddle and crawled into the mine shaft as a lightening storm with some rain brewed up behind Democrat and moved over us and blew to the east.
            After refreshments and a nap we returned to the ascent and finished that day summiting Lincoln and Bross and taking the short cut back to Kite Lake.

            1. ex-PFC Chuck

              Wow! You’re a lucky guy, although I suspect you didn’t think so at the time. The pungent aroma of ozone and hair standing on end are omens of great danger.

      2. farmboy

        I worked on several different golf courses in my 20’s, at the last one a thunder storm came through, it was a beautiful day in May and the grass was growing fast. I was on a low profile tractor pulling a gang of all metal mowers some 18-20 ft wide. I was at the top of a steep fairway when the lightning cracked and the rain started pouring down. I got off the tractor, ran under a tree, smelled the ozone, then the nearby flash, then the thunder. Nothing around me was hit that I could tell so the several tons of iron in the mower might have conducted sufficiently. Lucky!
        A lightning started fire that our volunteer fire department initially fought became state mob in hours and was so hot and big that it created a temporary tornado that I saw hit an old oak tree that just exploded

      3. posaunist

        My grandparents lost most of their dairy herd (over 40 cows) from a single lightning strike years ago. The cows were crowded around a tree to get out of the rain. The next day granddad, who was in his 70s, cut the tree down. He didn’t ask for help.

      4. ambrit

        My brush with lightning happened years ago in Florida. I was opening a metal gate across a road in a rural setting so Phyl could drive our auto through. I was “grabbed” by the gate, with an intense ‘electrifying’ feeling, by an ‘electric’ effect, secondary to the main lightening bolt, flowing up out of the pole that held the gate up. There was rain, but no thunder before the bolt that ‘got’ me. Phyl says that she saw a bolt of lightening strike a short distance away, back in the trees when I had my brush with electro-mortality. Phyl says she jumped out of the car to see what was wrong with me, but that I was ‘blank.’ I remember the initial surge of electricity, but nothing subsequent until I ‘came to’ inside the vehicle a minute or two later.
        We cheat Death in so many ways, all the time, and seldom stop to contemplate the fact.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        Glad to read two of them survived. The fact the incident was caught on camera suggests help got to them ASAP, hopefully by people who knew CPR. This could have made the survival difference.

      2. CoryP

        Thanks for this! Not having the Twitter app I couldn’t auto translate the thread.

        I admit to feeling quite unpleasant after realizing what I’d just watched. The informative discussion here that followed more than made up for it though.

    3. power of lightning

      What about implanted medical devices containing metal? Or that sliver of steel deep in my calf?

    4. Angie Neer

      For a few years I was involved with lightning protection of aircraft, and of spacecraft on launch pads. I don’t claim to be an expert, but I learned enough to be very skeptical about claims like this. The forces involved are just so immense—electric fields large enough to break through miles of very high-quality insulation (air)— the results are very chaotic and unpredictable. Sure, standing under a tree definitely increases your risk (whether or not you’re touching it). Being the tallest thing around does too, or swinging a golf club. But I doubt very much that a small thing like a fly zipper or a bra underwire would make a predictable difference.

  2. a different chris

    >Didn’t they get the memo that when people have strong priors, presenting them with contradicting information only leads them to double down?

    Um, like all psychological research that isn’t as cut-and-dried as we would all like.

    Yes if *I* tell *you* something you don’t like, you will brush it off. If I tell people close to you this information, they will tend to keep on you until you say “Ok I’ll take the stupid vaccination/stop eating Cheetos/whatever just to make you happy”.

    It gives them a way to still hold to their principles (“this is BS”) while doing what the rest of us think they should (“but I did it so the wife would shut up about it”).

    If you’ve got a better idea please share. Humans aren’t sheep, sheep can be herded because they are smart enough to stay in a group. Humans not so much, although they try. Take advantage of the lack of deep thought.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Maybe it’s time to accept that people have free will and won’t listen to messaging if they have their minds made up. The cognitive bias research is very strong on this point, and we see plenty of this sort of thing right here in the comments section.

      Your examples are all from personal relationships where someone with only moderate views might go along for the sake of keeping the peace. Not at all the same as mass PR campaign.

      1. doug

        My spouse and I saw our first ad this morning. It was like big brother gov’t telling you to get the shot. No ifs and or buts. Not compelling at all. We remarked how awful it was.

        1. cocomaan

          There’s also a lot of other factors involved, like the fact that the vaccine regimen keeps being changed. Who has time to study what vaccine they’re going to get, how many doses, and now, according to that investor report from Pfizer, boosters and third shots?

          Not too many people, so as a result, people just feel bewildered and want to sit it out.

        2. Michael Ismoe

          Any chance the people who are getting $1.4 billion in government bucks are the same people who blew through $3 billion running Biden commercials in 2020? Every year is an election year to these people. And they don’t really care if the campaign works, the 15% agency commission will put a lot of starving PMC children through Ivy League colleges. And isn’t that what’s important?

      2. PlutoniumKun

        There is, though, a lot of research on tripping points* in societal behaviour. With things like waste and littering, encouraging people to do something new, for example, putting all your waste in a bin and leaving it out on Tuesday night for collection rather than burning it in your backyard, is something that involves a lot of chipping away at old habits and prejudices, before you hit a point where pretty much everyone does it. The process can be surprisingly fast if done right, and what is often surprising is that people quickly forget that they didn’t always do anything different. Most people conform, even if sometimes they tell themselves they are not conforming (a little like how teen goths rebel against societal conformity by all dressing in identikit black).

        The problem of course comes if you have a determined and organised opposition to the process. This can stop you hitting that point where the behaviour becomes the ‘norm’. There is also a problem when the messages became confused. This is one reason why consumer recycling often fails – there has often been a lack of a consistent message about how and when to recycle so people get confused and the habits don’t get built in. I think this is one reason why some Asian societies (and some northern European ones) are often better at this type of thing – its not that the population is more conformist, its that the governments tend to be better at pushing a consistent message of what is expected from citizens in everything from littering to behaviour on public transport and so the message gets through and becomes normified behaviour.

        *I hate to use the term, as its so badly misused by certain pop economists, but it does have a basis in reality.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          But I believe that typically takes a long time. See seat belt use. Getting away from spanking to discipline children took a generational change.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Its a while since I’ve read the literature (mostly my reading was on waste reduction, but there is also a lot of work in general environmental behaviour), but there were certainly cases where the switch from ‘only weirdos do it’ to ‘only weirdos don’t do it’ was very rapid. Certainly from where I’m seeking now, wearing masks went from this time last year when most people (including myself) felt a little odd and exposed wearing one in public, to feeling naked if I realise I’ve walked into a shop without one.

            But of course there needs to be a long lead in to the time when behaviour A goes from unusual to normal. The actual change itself can be very rapid, but the lead in time I suppose depends on a multiplicity of factors. I can remember a huge resistance to wearing seat belts for many years, but it seemed to change to being normal overnight. Fear of death, of course, is a pretty good incentive.

        2. Amfortas the hippie

          i watched my town and county in their long term effort to normalise recycling, after they got a grant to build a recycling center(now, about half capacity, due to china not taking our trash, etc).
          mayor told me they not only made certain to write about it in the little paper…Mayor’s Message, etc…but to covertly deploy what i guess today we’d call “Influencers”(pre-internet out here)…concerned citizens, friends of commissioners, etc…to change public opinion and habits by a combination of cajoling, shaming, prodding and gentle Sunsteinesque Nudging….only started the fines(small, applied to egregious scofflaws) much later.
          Took about 20 years.
          and this is in small-c conservative rural texas, where they still use diesel for weed killer.

          I had a similar, long term experience with Food out here…when i arrived, it was all hamburger steak and chicken fried steak and all in all pretty poor, boring fare.
          first cafe i opened, gumbo…dude comes into kitchen holding a bay leaf…”there’s oak leaves in yer soop!”.
          or jack cheese on a chicken breast…old lady, with disgust, ” what’s this white stuff?”(cheese is yella, dontchaknow?)
          now, there’s a gourmet german place, and even the greasy spoon/townhall does real butter and fresh herbs and avocado on burgers. again, took about 20 years.

          1. The Rev Kev

            I wonder what would happen if you went to your older neighbours and said to them whether they remember when the food fare was only hamburger steak and chicken fried steak. Would they admit it? Or just give you a blank look.

          2. Stephen C.

            I hate to sound cruel, but for changes that take 20 years or more, it seems that one has to admit that a certain percentage of the old, stubborn codgers just have to die off. For example, my mother began to use seatbelts only after her very authoritarian and opinionated father passed on. So maybe the propaganda/persuasion works when it targets the younger set and keeps at it. Probably not surprising.

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              there was definitely something of that in this case.
              “Silent Generation”, rarely left the county save for The War, and growing up without electricity, gas heat, or running water.
              “stuck in their ways” barely scratches the surface.
              One old man comes to mind…would talk about grading the roads(all dirt, back then, until LBJ) with a team of 40 mules…when i’d offer bruschetta or something to try, he’d turn up his nose….but when i brought out a slice of french bread with olive oil kalamata and tomato and mozz melted on it, he’d eat it right up.
              the main dividing line between those who would try new things and those who wouldn’t was whether they had been anywhere else…even just to austin….so there was also a Class thing at work.
              the more well off could afford vacations and driving to austin to see a show and have dinner.

              I didn’t expect all this when i first came out here…like i slipped through a hole in time.
              (for context, this town had a big generator for electricity up until the early 60’s(still there, rusting away)…and they’d shut it down at 10PM.
              out in the country, it was oil lamps and car batteries until LBJ paved the roads and ran the wire…and one tv station, depending on wind direction, beginning in the 70’s(which lack, i figure, contributed to the rather robust gossip mill system i’ve talked about)

            2. Dr. Strangelove

              “A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.” Max Planck

      3. John Beech

        My darling wife Lynn lost a 1st cousin in August to COVID19 just a few days after going on the ventilator. It’s happened again two weeks ago, another first cousin. My business sells products to a largely older demographic. Since it’s 50/50 whether they’re Democrats or Republicans, I tread carefully when the subject comes up largely because I believe it’s smart business to have no political opinion regardless of the provocation. Anyway, around Thanksgiving, I contracted for a few thousand masks. Our logo is as inconspicuous as the silk screen folks said it could be done without blurring. Pick and pack are instructed to include one with every order – yes, for free. I also had plain business cards printed, which we slipped into the mask packaging, which have this text . . .

        Resources are mobilized, vaccines are happening, but until enough get it, we can’t ease up on precautions. Maybe masks help, maybe not. This one’s a sign of appreciation . . . as an esteemed member of the ProModeler family.
        Family is important and COVID19’s been personal as Lynn’s cousin Donna passed of it in August – intubated and alone – leaving her family bereft.

        – Revolutionary War, first to die was Isaac Davis April 19, 1775 . . . last to die is unknown.
        – Civil War, maybe 800,000 killed, John J. Williams on May 13, 1865 – last to die.
        – WWI – 116,516 dead, Henry Gunther, 10:59 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918 – last to die.
        – WWII – 405,399 dead, Anthony J. Marchione on August 18, 1945 – last to die.
        – Korea – 36,516 dead, and once again, the last to die is an unknown for us.
        – Vietnam – 58,209 dead, Charles McMahon, April 29, 1975 – last to die.
        – Afghanistan – 2,216, Wyatt J. Martin and Ramon S. Morris December 12, 2014 – last to die.
        – Iraq War – 4,497, David Hickman November 14, 2011 – last to die
        – COVID19 – hundreds of thousands and counting . . . please don’t be last to die.

        . . . thus far, nobody has complained and we’ve received thousands of compliments and thank you notes.

        Finally, it’s my opinion people are smarter than the press and psychologists give credit. And they don’t hold to views against their self-interest ‘if’ you present the data properly.

        I share further thoughts regarding filtration here:
        . . . and not from a medical point of view but from an engineering perspective. This, because ultimately, dealing with the particle is an engineering problem. By this I mean, it’s definitely not for politico-types to pontificate regarding, or for others not versed in the mechanics of airborne particles.

        1. Josef K

          I read your post and the page you linked to. Well done, sir, it’s persuasive without being preachy.

        2. CuriosityConcern

          I also think your post and actions are well done.
          I wonder if our predicament is partly due to regulatory capture? Politicization of information leads to distrust of any information because average Joe doesn’t have the time to validate all the info sources they encounter. Thus, I argue it would behoove any organization seeking to disseminate information to ensure the information is correct as they can determine and to loudly and thouroughly admit to mistakes or even refinements. I think true transparency would go a long way toward re-establishing trust. Of course, there are always the astroturfers who will seek to discredit any info contrary to the interests of their paymasters.

    2. PS

      I wonder how many people who say they will definitely not take the vaccine – especially Republicans – are just trying to make a political statement to the main stream media or polling company and will end up quietly taking it anyway.

      1. bob

        Did you forget Biden, Harris and Cuomo among other democrats saying they would never trust a vaccine from Trump?

  3. The Rev Kev

    “The bizarre tale of the world’s last lost tourist, who thought Maine was San Francisco”

    Looks like the saying that God watches out for children, drunks and fools still holds true. That German tourist must have been seeing Bangor through his beer goggles- (20 secs)

    From what I have been reading about the streets of San Francisco lately, Bangor may be a better destinations nowadays if it ever happened again.

  4. timbers

    Border crisis threatens Biden’s political momentum The Hill

    Yesterday, NPR had some guest on who kept saying we have to let all the South American children into the US because he likes children and also we have a labor shortage. Maybe he is having some trouble with his dry cleaning or house help or maybe like Mitt Romney we is looking for someone to do his roof and yard work cheaply.

    That’s why as I said earlier we need to lower the Amazon driving age for delivery to 6 years. They will probably gladly work for $5/hr or less and because kids are small it will be easier to install mini porto potties into the Amazon trucks.

    I shared what this fella on NPR said about letting all the kids in because labor shortage and he replied what about his kids getting jobs? I wonder if it occurred to him about his job?

    Child labor used to be a thing in America. If America is going to be a Third World nation, it needs to lead the rest of the world and show the way.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      It’s not like they are going to school. College debt can never be paid off. If kids start early, like 8 or 9, they will learn a trade, realize what pulling yourself up by your bootstraps really is and, best of all, they are too young to join a union. Bezos’ Beta Brigade – they deliver to Alphas in pretty trucks with smiling penises on them.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Firefly tourism has a surprising dark side”

    If you live in an area that has these, consider yourself lucky. Growing up in Sydney I never saw these though we have about two dozen species of them here in Oz. First time I saw them was as an adult with a girlfriend in a German wood in the dusk and it was like magic. I still wish we had them where we are. Other places are more lucky-

    1. BlakeFelix

      I think that most North American fireflies use encryption in their signaling, which makes them much better at ignoring artificial light sources and doing all right around people. Fierce slug predators as well. IIRC anyway.

      1. R

        I think they use encoding but not necessarily encryption. :-) Encryption requires a shared secret between the communicants, to exclude others. Encoding can be a common standard and nonexclusionary. Morse code is an encoding but it is not encryption.

  6. KLG

    Not to excuse The Donald, but the comments after the Greenwald thing are priceless: Dishonesty = Fraud. Well, not necessarily. Low-grade dishonesty in Georgia voting has been a thing for a long time, and it is about to get worse as the GOP changes the rules back to what they were before the Warnock/Ossoff lightning strike (watch those zippers, boys). Actually, we will probably just go back to outright fraud.

    And Wendy Brown is always worth the read! Undoing the Demos is outstanding. I have to go back and re-read In the Ruins of Neoliberalism to better grasp her update/revision.

    1. flora

      re: “A Worldwide Mutual Pact”​ – An Interview with Wendy Brown . The Drift

      An excellent interview describing where we are now and how we got here in terms of democracy and our no-longer-mutual pact, thanks to the neoliberal thought collective. aka “because markets….” The mid-20th century democracy social pact has been replaced by a neoliberal markets pact.

      1. Patrick

        Yes. And in yestiddy’s Water Cooler (IIRC correctly) a reminder that Adam Smith’s “free market” was not a market free from regulation (by government), but a market free from rentierism (private sector monopoly aka privatization).

    2. The Rev Kev

      It is interesting, as noted her, that the mistakes are always in one direction. Statistics would tell you that it should be a 50-50 split but in reality it always works in favour of the power establishment.

      1. skippy

        Funny you should say that …. Bayesianism ….

        Mainstream economics nowadays usually assumes that agents that have to make choices under conditions of uncertainty behave according to Bayesian rules (preferably the ones axiomatised by Ramsey (1931), de Finetti (1937) or Savage (1954)) — that is, they maximise expected utility with respect to some subjective probability measure – snip

        From the point of view of the “logic of consistency”, no set of beliefs is more rational than any other, so long as they both satisfy the quantitative relationships expressed by the fundamental laws of probability. Thus I am free to assign the number 1/3 to the probability that the sun will rise tomorrow; or, more cheerfully, to take the probability to be 9/10 that I have a rich uncle in Australia who will send me a telegram tomorrow informing me that he has made me his sole heir. Neither Ramsey, nor Savage, nor de Finetti, to name three leading figures in the personalistic movement, can find it in his heart to detect any logical shortcomings in anyone, or to find anyone logically culpable, whose degrees of belief in various propositions satisfy the laws of the probability calculus, however odd those degrees of belief may otherwise be …

        Now this seems patently absurd. It is to suppose that even the most simple statistical inferences have no logical weight where my beliefs are concerned. It is perfectly compatible with these laws that I should have a degree of belief equal to 1/4 that this coin will land heads when next I toss it; and that I should then perform a long series of tosses (say, 1000), of which 3/4 should result in heads; and then that on the 1001st toss, my belief in heads should be unchanged at 1/4 … Henry E. Kyburg

        Been arguing the same point since my early days at NC, completely dumb struck when I found out the depth of this framework in mainstream econ. Especially Savage bushing aside anything that questioned it because – he – felt[tm] it was ***elegant*** …. so were right back to Einsteins death bed GT premise … ugh …

        Not that we have observed data on humans predating the above like lotto tickets or more currant observations where groups fund a mathematician that sets up shop buying a dominate share of numbers for a draw or anything … oh yeah … they had to change the rules after that came out … but yeah free markets …

  7. Mikel

    Re: “There’s no proof the Oxford vaccine causes blood clots. So why are people worried?” Guardian

    “One way of doing this would be promoting the scientific method and ensuring everyone understands this basic principle. Testing a hypothesis helps us see which hunches or assumptions are correct and which aren’t…”

    Well, I”d say there shouldn”t be so much worry about suspending the vax for a bit while the scientific method of testing a hypothesis is performed. Enough are saying it needs more study. People shouldn’t be worried…agreed.
    They should worry when the inquiries and questions stop because that wouldn’t be science.
    Don’t understand the point of this article outside of PR.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      My tin hat always buzzes when I see phrases like ‘there’s no proof….’ The question is never asked as to who should have the burden of proof. But to be fair to the article, its a bit more balanced than the headline.

      It is unfortunate that its very clear that PR activities by the Pharm companies against each other, allied with nationalist flag waving for ‘our’ vaccine (and concerns about ‘their’ vaccines) is making it very difficult to come to any sort of rational assessment. This ultimately comes down to a failure to agree systematic protocols for any type of mass vaccination, so we now have a free for all with everyone calling everyone else a conspiracy theorist.

      As you say, its perfectly reasonable to temporarily suspect the use of a vaccine in these circumstances when a question mark is raised. In the greater scheme of things, it won’t have an impact if any one of the vaccines is held up for a couple of weeks as a precautionary matter. But this message unfortunately isn’t getting out.

      1. marku52

        Unless they are cooking the data, the rates of thrombosis in the vaccinated group are actually lower than the usual rate in the population. And there isn’t a hypothesis for why the vaccine should cause thrombosis..

        Precautionary principal aside, seems like a bad decision in the face of another great wave. Italy looks terrible again.

    2. JP

      The entire pandemic has been an experimental test bed both scientific and social/politic. Instead of saying this or that was a lie it would be more accurate to say that it was wrong. All the vaccines are being tested real time as have been all the assumptions generated (with bias) including mask intrigue and virus transport mechanics. Given the statistical incidence of blood clots per doses administered compared to the chances of being infected and dying without vaccination, I would take the AZ vaccine if that was my only choice.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Climate change: Jet fuel from waste ‘dramatically lowers’ emissions BBC

    I don’t doubt that if air travel is to be ‘greened’ in the timescale required, then the solution will be this type of bio fuel, not pie-in-the-sky proposals for battery or hydrogen powered aircraft, which are at least 3 decades away from being viable.

    The problem in the article comes from its description of food wastes being dumped in landfills with the methane emitting to the atmosphere. This may well be true in many countries, but in most countries now food waste is either composted and/or landfills with organic waste are already capped with the methane trapped for energy use.

    So the question comes as to whether a process like this could well end up ‘intercepting’ waste food for less environmentally damaging purposes (such as aerobic composting), or could well end up being another ‘food’ biofuel with all the problems we are familiar with. That said, there are problematic wastes, such as human sewerage which are ideal for anaerobic digestion with the gas used in the way described in the article. I can’t help wondering how Ryanair would use the potential for poo powered engines for their 737’s in their adverts.

    1. Carolinian

      Our local and rather gigantic BMW plant pipes methane from a nearby landfill to their factory. Or at least they claimed to do so a few years ago–may be more PR and greenwashing.

    2. Pelham

      Maybe it’s time to ask whether we’d be better off without air travel at all, with exceptions for emergencies and catastrophes such as copter rides to hospitals.

      Personally and wistfully, I’d like the world to seem to be a lot bigger with the possibility of real, exotic adventures over the horizon, much as I imagined the world to be when I was little.

      1. Rod

        from the middle of the article–my bold
        best ‘feet in reality’ statement i have seen lately. I think we need to transition NOW, but reality is we need to start transitioning NOW.

        “Sustainable aviation fuel is not a silver bullet,” Derek Vardon says.

        “So we do want to definitely emphasise that reduction is the most important and most significant change you can make. But there’s also pragmatism and need for aviation solutions now, so that’s where we want to strike a balance as we need a basket of measures, to really start getting our carbon footprint down in a variety of sectors, including aviation.”

      2. marieann

        I took my last flight in December 2019.
        I cannot navigate the airports anymore, they are huge, confusing and the wait times are horrendous. I can’t believe how people put up with the assault to their dignity(standing around like cattle) and their health.
        I have come to terms with the fact I will never see my overseas family…unless they come to me, but they are also getting older.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I like your idea of poo powered engines, although jet aircraft are not the first application that comes to my mind. I am not sure how this new jet fuel compares to methane as a general fuel. I am far more concerned about metal smelting and sintering, glass making, and ceramic materials or alternative fuels for electric power generation than I am with jet flight.

      This process for making jet fuel from food waste seems a little complicated. I suppose it might be scaled to support other purposes. My first thought was that it might serve as a lamp oil or oil for soap making. At this juncture I am not sure jet flight has a long term future. After the billionaires jet off to their bunkers I am sure there will be other more important uses for the fuels that remain.

      There were 22 author names on the PNAS publication describing this “net-zero sustainable aviation fuel” and cooperation between multiple national laboratories and universities — which suggests some hefty financial support. Five research contracts and one subcontract supported this work. Three of the authors have applied for a patent on the process (US 17/121,336 filed on December 14, 2020). [Once it the patent is approved, it might prove worthwhile to obtain a copy for use on some rainy day in the future.] I believe some big players have a substantial interest in this effort. The title alone for the research publication includes all the right magic words for conjuring ‘green’.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, this is one of those technologies which have been around for decades (but not economically viable), and you suspect (well, I hope) that when a few lines of research show real promise there will be a snowball effect, as we’ve seen happen with solar power and batteries.

        There was actually a lot of research on this a decade or more ago by the US military – the experience of Afghanistan showed that fuel delivery was the achilles heel of isolated bases so they were interested in the idea of solar generated liquid fuels from locally sourced biomass. Apparently they had made a lot of progress before the Republicans in Congress got wind of what seemed like a suspiciously pinko greenie waste of money and stopped it. Oil of course is for real men and must be sucked out of the ground, preferably someone elses ground. Its a pity, because so often its military research that gives the initial momentum to a lot of these technologies.

        Incidentally, the production of methane from biomass (usually via anaerobic digesters) is a very mature tech, it just doesn’t seem to be so widely used in the US. Many an old landfill and pig farm in Ireland uses it. The big problem is that methane is hard to transport and use, so its invariably used in small scale CHP generators. But if it can be turned into a liquid fuel at a reasonable price, then thats a genuine game changer. The airline industry is well aware of its vulnerability to regulation on greenhouse gases, so they’d happily adapt to it if it didn’t cost too much. As I said above, synthetic liquid fuels make much more sense in the short term than battery or hydrogen technologies.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          I strongly agree that synthetic liquid fuels make more sense than battery or hydrogen technologies. I hope you are right that this research will show real promise. I suppose I am less hopeful than you about this particular development.

          I took a few art glass classes at a junior college facility located across from a community landfill. The glass center featured a large work area with a gas operated furnace for melting glass for glass blowing and an area equipped with flame working jets supporting a scientific glass program for making laboratory equipment. I remember an open-house for the public, held at the glass center that showcased the use of methane from the landfill to power the glass working furnace and at least suggestive of methane use for powering the flame working area. A chart documented some slightly incredible claims about all the money saved by using the methane from next door. But the story I heard from inside the glass center was different. From inside I heard that the methane from the landfill was little used because it was so contaminated with other gases that it reacted with and randomly affected the quality of the glass melt. There were also problems with the happy arrangement with the landfill. The representatives of the local community wanted more money for their methane thereby keeping a larger share of the advertised savings for their coffers.

          In the US, the sizzle has become most important — and the steak …. I fear this new technology will be used as a means to greenify the image of whatever airline industry survives these days of Corona. With a subsidy from the US government any problems of economic viability can be overcome to obtain the greenness value. But if the technology is not too complex it could become viable as circumstances change. Liquid fuels like this will become extremely important and valuable in the future.

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Brandon Lewis interview: Denial of the Irish Sea border is gone as SoS says parts of frontier are being ditched for good News Letter (guurst). Before you get annoyed at the generic title, they have a right to it: “News you can trust since 1737.”

    The Newsletter is claimed to be the oldest continuously published newspaper in the world, and is still pretty good. Its generally pro-Unionist (i.e. generally Tory leaning), but not hardline, its quite popular with centrist nationalists.

    But the Unionists and London are in a real pickle over the border. They are essentially outraged over an agreement that they all signed up to and declared a great victory just a few months ago. Its very hard to know whether London is plotting to break up the agreement (there are a lot of people convinced this was always the strategy), or they are just squirming on their own petard, always trying to squeeze out a positive headline. The EU is clearly sick to death of dealing with this, which could have repercussions as the human element creeps in – they may be unwilling to help Britain out, even if it is the pragmatic thing to do. I think that if and when Biden makes his much promised trip to Ireland, this could focus minds in the UK and stop some of the headlines claiming that a UK/US trade deal is near. Expect maybe some announcements on St. Patricks Day.

    1. David

      I can only agree. This is a car crash that has been happening before our eyes for over a year now, and, like a car crash there’s been a certain kind of fascinated horror to be felt in watching it all slowly disintegrate. (Sorry about the mixed metaphors).
      For the record, I don’t think this was the plan all along, except perhaps in the over-active imaginations of some radicals. I suspect historians will argue for a long time about which player was animated by which combination of stupidity, panic, ambition, ignorance and mendacity. Effectively, the government was presented with a self-created problem from which there were only two exits, each unacceptable. Having effectively been forced to choose one, they comforted themselves (and tried to comfort their supporters) with the belief that somehow it would all be all right, that words didn’t mean what they seemed to mean, and that the inevitable consequences of their choices would never actually come to pass. It’s a bit like the child who tries to postpone indefinitely a visit to the dentist. In fact, it’s exactly like that.

      1. Anonymous 2

        ‘It’s a bit like the child who tries to postpone indefinitely a visit to the dentist. In fact, it’s exactly like that.’

        Lovely. Thank you, David.

        I have just been reading Denzil Davidson’s account of the time when he was involved in Brexit negotiations. It seems to me that the quality of advice to Ministers is not what it was. I always thought SPADs were a bad idea.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Another analogy I like was one I read btl somewhere which suggested the UK is like a field hockey team that accidentally joined an ice hockey league, but insists on playing by field hockey rules and don’t seem to understand why everyone else insists otherwise.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “China’s arms sales drop as ‘other nations buy American’ ”

    Buying American weaponry is like buying American protection so in some ways it is like a protection racket. But there are other factors at work here. So there is a law on the books – the 2017 Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act – which punishes countries for buying weapons from Russia or China, forcing counties to step carefully in arms purchases while trying to obey an American law. This law gets so twisted that in 2018 China was sanctioned under this act – for buying Russian weaponry.

    And then there is the fact that the US is paying counties to get rid of Chinese and Russian weaponry – and buy American instead. This includes any future purchases as well. It’s called the European Recapitalization Incentive Program and has been expanded to include China as well. It was thought up by the State Department but they are working with the Pentagon to carry this out. And it is not only through arms sales that the US benefits but through the contracts to service all these weapons as well which are just as lucrative.

    But, and you knew that there was going to be a but, there is a flip side to American weaponry in that you no longer may have control of your weapons anymore. Just ask Iraq. So the Iraqis purchase a boat load of American M1A1 Abrams tanks which were serviced by contractors from one of the big defence companies. Then fotos surfaced of I think Hezbollah forces driving captured American vehicles so Obama decided to make Iraq responsible for getting them back – and withdrew those contractors. Soon half the US tanks the Iraqis had were no longer working as they could not be maintained. So the Iraqis went ahead and purchased Russian tanks.

    And then it happened again. Iraq signed a $4.3 billion deal with Lockheed for old F-16s which they eventually, eventually received. So after two US bases were hit by Iranian missiles after the murder of Soleimani, the contractors were withdrawn so pretty soon the Iraqis only had a handful of working F-16s left. Last I heard, the Iraqis are considering buying Mig-29s. So any country that buys US weapons will have to look closely at the question of the servicing of that equipment-

  11. Carolinian

    Re Markle–I know nothing about the Royals other than what I see on The Crown but a friend who likes the Hallmark Channel says she wasn’t much of an actress either.

    As for The Crown, perhaps when season five rolls around she can play herself.

    1. ambrit

      When our children would catch fireflies and put them in a jar, Mason jars with window screen wire mesh top inserts, (we prepared ahead of time for firefly ‘season,’) about an hour was the “catch and release” time frame. Which turned into mini-lessons on bioluminescence. There is something to learn from everything if you look hard enough.

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      I like to believe some of the firefly light is actually light from wood sprites dancing in the moments of twilight before seeking their place of rest for the night.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    Evgenia Kovda on Matt Taibbi, Gogol, and Cancel Culture Yasha Levine

    I find Levines writing always very interesting, even if he sometimes does add 2+2 to make 5 (or put another way, he sees conspiracies where most of us see cock-ups), but I’m finding his obsession with taking down Matt Taibbi and Glen Greenwald really weird. I can only assume its personal, unless he and Ames know something the rest of us don’t know.

    I don’t know much about Gogol, but that article reads to me like a classic case of straw manning. Taibbi’s take was clearly a witty personal essay about his personal love of Gogol, written for people who don’t know Gogol, not an attempt at serious literary criticism. And I don’t think Taibbi has ever claimed to be a Russian (or Soviet) expert, even though he clearly does know more than most of us from his past career in Moscow.

  13. Schofield

    The Royal Family is a criminal enterprise it manufactures deference. Why should Meghan and Henry expect to win. Best to leave it alone and let it implode along with the UK.

            1. ambrit

              The entire thing would make a ‘fun’ series of programs on Oprah’s old compatriot’s show, “Dr. Ooze.”

        1. Pat

          Well that would track with Duchess being about the Duchess, the Obamas are masters of self promotion on the backs of others.see Rev Kev just above.

      1. petal

        I think by asking for that stuff, Markle is attempting to intimidate (it’s what she does) the former staff members ahead of the investigation, and also get out ahead of it PR-wise. There are rumours of some pretty horrendous behaviour on her part, especially on the Australia trip. Look up “malignant narcissist”.

        And as for the Obamas, she pushed her way into meeting Michelle Obama at an event in London and MO wasn’t too pleased about it. If I remember, it had something to do with security and scheduling. She is trying to copy the Obamas by attempting to cash in with the big netflix and spotify deals. She’s a real piece of work.

      2. John

        Exactly why do we care what Meghan or Harry think, feel, or say in pursuit of whatever they are pursuing? It does sell newspapers … I’m showing my age … it does produce “clicks” and that is a good thing for someone.

        1. ambrit

          One aspect of this being that those two whinging cases of arrested development are frittering away wealth and status that most of us can only dream about.
          Harry and Meghan are poster children for Guillotine Development Programs (GDP.)
          I still think that the Queen could appoint harry Governor General of some out of the way outpost of Empire, say, the Falklands, and make the couple live there. Sort of like a ‘Royals Gulag.’

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Get Oprah and call everyone in your way a racist. It’s the Obama strategy just against people more likeable and amazingly less WASPy than Hillary Rodham Clinton.

      Though Markle’s strategy at going at the king and then saying how nice Liz is was doomed because when you come after the king you best not miss.

  14. PlutoniumKun

    Lula’s lessons for Iran before Brazil’s populist showdown begins The Saker

    I can remember when even the Economist (clearly through gritted teeth) had an article admitting that Lula had transformed the Brazilian economy for the better. I mean, who knew that giving money to desperately poor people could actually help them pull their focus away from survival, to educating their children and setting up businesses and training for better jobs and so created a whole new middle class which benefited the entire country.

    But Lula provides a lesson that for the right, hatred of the left is not purely ideological. They really, truly hate the left to the point that they’d actually sabotage their own economy in order to ‘prove’ that the left is bad. The mainstream right in Brazil and outside the country made a choice of a dangerous idiot like Bolsonaro over a sensible and competent leftist government.

    The article, however, is correct to note that Bolsonaro should not be ruled out as a force. He is not a conventional neo-liberal, he is a populist right winger, who plugs as much into establishment hatred as he does left baiting. Plenty of people still listen to that message.

    1. Weimer

      Yes, it was that unreasonable (deranged?) hatred of the left by the German business class that gave us (in large part) Hitler. In that case, unfortunately, it was not just a matter of sabotaging an economy – more like sabotaging the world. Way to go… and they never learn.

  15. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Two people charged over assault of US police officer Brian Sicknick, who died after Capitol riot

    That article still doesn’t directly connect the two people with ‘bear spray’ to Sicknick directly – it’s vague at best.

    This one does –

    About an hour into the riot, Khater grabbed for the chemical spray canister. But Tanios told him to “Hold on, not yet … it’s still early,” the FBI said, recounting an open-source video of the scene outside the Capitol.

    A Metropolitan Police Officer’s body camera then caught Khater spraying him, Sicknick and another Capitol Police officer from a few feet away.

    – but they are still not being charged with murder and –

    The court record doesn’t mention Sicknick’s death, or how the spray may have contributed to it.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      the hill link does say:

      Officer Brian Sicknick was allegedly sprayed with bear spray during the riot, but officials do not yet know whether it caused his death a day later.

      Investigators initially believed he was hit in the head with a fire extinguisher, based on statements collected early in the investigation, according to two people familiar with the case.

      But as they have collected more evidence, the theory of the case has evolved.

      “….according to two people familiar with the case.” Probably the same “sources” from the Greenwald tweet.

      This is such a joke. It’s been over two months and the autopsy report is still “pending.” The body was cremated two months ago, so if they don’t already “know” it was “bear spray” that killed him, there’s no way to “prove” it now. Unless, of course, autopsy reports are like fbi 302’s, and can be rewritten 6 months after the fact to provide “evidence” of the preferred “conclusion.”

        1. fresno dan

          March 16, 2021 at 1:29 pm
          Where can I procure this beer spray of which you speak?

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        This is desperate. From what I can tell, pepper spray has never been proven to have killed anyone, and pepper spray is more irritating to humans that bear spray.

  16. cocomaan

    After Covid, get ready for the Great Acceleration The Spectator (Dr. Kevin).

    I know what’s meant about not declaring victory before the battle is over, but on the other hand, we have to be careful not to doom and gloom ourselves too much.

    NC had an article identifying the stagnation in technological advances maybe a year or two ago, and probably had others as well. The difference between then and now is that I’m sensing that governments around the world are not looking so skeptical about dumping money into R&D.

    I used to work more in the research funding game, writing grants for NSF and NIH alongside researchers. The pie of research funding was shrinking back when I was doing that full time (2000’s into 2010’s). Obama and George W were content letting researchers sit around, since it served their interests. I don’t think I’ve ever before seen more willingness in my lifetime to invest in R&D than now. The pandemic vaccines are the obvious example, but I wonder if the attitude will persist in the healthcare sector and bleed into other sectors.

    Whether that has all the results that the guy is talking about in the article remains to be seen. But that’s the nature of research: it’s a risky enterprise.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      It would be very nice to see more money go into research, for many reasons. I would be even happier if more went to blue-sky research and less to contract research. If the Corona event truly changed US government funding of scientific research, that is a most felicitous outcome from what is otherwise an economic, social, economic, and political disaster. And the sea change in research funding you speculate upon, may be as transitory as the vitality of an mRNA vaccine sitting behind reagents on a laboratory shelf.

      I fear the Corona event has not reached its highest crest, but only withdrawn to build a new wave — which for me, makes this celebration of innovation and anticipation of acceleration very premature. All the wonders claimed raise the hairs on the back of my neck: autonomous cars and delivery trucks — supersonic air travel — compact ‘bin’ sized fusion power — cures for cancer — ‘solution’ of the protein folding problem — bitcoin a shield against inflation — a space elevator from the moon to Earth? But at least we can reconcile “once again falling in love with technology, but that love is deeper now because we know the truth about technology much better than one or two centuries ago” … gosh I could cry.

  17. chris

    While I find the statements about Pfizer licking its lips over expected price gouging on the vaccine to be obscene, aren’t they allowed to do it? They reportedly did not take any funds from the US so the Bayh-Dole act shouldn’t apply. I suppose in a sane world, given what has happened with the pandemic and operation warp speed, we’d have enough options that were federally funded to put a ceiling on the market price so that Pfizer essentially couldn’t price gouge without pushing themselves out of the market. But if they really didn’t take federal funding for their vaccine, and they’re not under any obligation to negotiate with the feds…aren’t they allowed to be a$$hole$?

    1. Michael Ismoe

      The NIH invests about $41.7 billion annually in medical research for the American people.

      More than 80 percent of NIH’s funding is awarded for extramural research, largely through almost 50,000 competitive grants to more than 300,000 researchers at more than 2,500 universities, medical schools, and other research institutions in every state.

      A recent study found that all 210 drugs approved in the U.S. between 2010 and 2016 benefitted from publicly-funded research, either directly or indirectly.

      Taxpayers contribute through public university research, grants, subsidies, and other incentives. This means people are often paying twice for their medicines: through their tax dollars and at the pharmacy.

      1. cocomaan

        Not to mention that by shielding Pfizer from liability, they cut down on their overhead for one of their most expensive departments: general counsel.

        1. chris

          I totally agree with all of that, but that’s not how this has been enforced on anything else in the medical world as far as I know so it seems odd to think it would apply now.

          1. Cuibono

            it seems like all you are saying is ” They clearly can and will do it, what is to stop them”

    2. Lee

      It’s complicated.

      Government-Funded Scientists Laid the Groundwork for Billion-Dollar Vaccines

      Also, Foundational mRNA patents are subject to the Bayh-Dole Act provisions

      “Under a 1980 law, the NIH will obtain no money from the coronavirus vaccine patent. How much money will eventually go to the discoverers or their institutions isn’t clear. Any existing licensing agreements haven’t been publicized; patent disputes among some of the companies will likely last years. HHS’ big contracts with the vaccine companies are not transparent, and Freedom of Information Act requests have been slow-walked and heavily redacted, said Duke University law professor Arti Rai.”

      1. ambrit

        Not to be contrary.
        It doesn’t have to be complicated. So, ‘complicated’ must serve some fell design.
        “HHS’ big contracts with the vaccine companies are not transparent.” That is a major red flag indicating corruption.
        The Big Pharmas are in the same league as the Military Industrial Complex. Both profit off of the misery of the general public. Worse, both work to increase that misery so as to increase profits.
        Go long guillotines.

  18. bassmule

    Speaking of the WaPo making up quotes:

    Among the concerns listed in Whitehouse’s letter to Garland are allegations that some witnesses who wanted to share their accounts with the FBI could not find anyone at the bureau who would accept their testimony and that it had not assigned any individual to accept or gather evidence.

    “This was unique behavior in my experience, as the Bureau is usually amenable to information and evidence; but in this matter the shutters were closed, the drawbridge drawn up, and there was no point of entry by which members of the public or Congress could provide information to the FBI,” Whitehouse said.

    He added that, once the FBI decided to create a “tip line”, senators were not given any information on how or whether new allegations were processed and evaluated. While senators’ brief review of the allegations gathered by the tip line showed a “stack” of information had come in, there was no further explanation on the steps that had been taken to review the information, Whitehouse said.

    FBI facing allegation that its 2018 background check of Brett Kavanaugh was ‘fake’

    From eight months ago: WaPo killed Woodward Story on Kavanaugh Investigation.

    “According to Smith, during Kavanaugh’s tempestuous confirmation hearings in late 2018, the Post was set to run a story in which Woodward outed Kavanaugh as a source for material in one of his books about Ken Starr and his investigation of Bill Clinton.

    Kavanaugh worked for Starr, the independent counsel who investigated Clinton’s affair with a staffer, Monica Lewinsky. In a letter to the Post in 1999, Kavanaugh had publicly denied being the source in question.

    According to Smith, “two Post journalists who read” Woodward’s piece about the affair said it “would have been explosive”, given questions about Kavanaugh’s integrity that dominated confirmation hearings.”

  19. Jason Boxman

    In a previous episode of liberal Democrat virtue signaling, remember when the border wall funding had to be stopped at all costs, so liberal Democrats held up government funding, the government shutdown, real people were hurt, but we stopped the wall!

    Well, as was evident at the time, the Trump administration lacked the competency to even build a border wall, as evidenced in Trump’s Incomplete Border Wall Is in Pieces That Could Linger for Decades.

    But clearly the shutdown was worth it, because Trump bad!

  20. zagonostra

    >Glenn Greenwald

    “A massive WPost correction on one of the most discussed stories of the last 6 months.”

    As with the 16 negative Bernie Sander’s stories in as many hours in the 2016 what we have is an organ of the oligarchy manufacturing consent, steering public information in a desired direction. They should have been discredited long ago, but, as with the NYT, the WaPo continues to be referenced and used as the jumping off point for public discourse.

    These newspapers set the agenda for what will be discussed by the cable news shows and what is critiqued and analyzed by the alt-left and right news shows. Until the power to set the topic of discussion is dislodged from these monopolies, there is little chance that the public will be able to function as a counter force to oligarchic tendencies which have taken over almost all agencies of government at the federal level.

    Although we have had the proliferation of the technological means to create and easily distribute content, there doesn’t seem to be an economic model that decentralizes the power that these news media behemoths wield in terms of setting the topics of discourse.

      1. Kouros

        Now you are understanding why Lenin took the path he took… or why the guillotine was used in France…

  21. Duck1

    Saw this link on an alt-news site, can’t vouch for it one way or another but might something to look out for if it hits the MSM in the future. Suggests that the virus also infects the micro-biome in the human body: “Sars Cov 2 is also a bacteriophage virus. It means that it enters the bacteria and replicates its RNA from there as well.”

    Don’t know much about “Anti-Empire” but seems to be concerned that the virus is contributing to the buildup of a more authoritarian state. The article is a machine translation of accounts of the researchers work.

    1. Shane

      Thanks for this link, it’s really interesting! I agree that I am not in a position to judge the research on its merits, but I would love if the “best commentariat on the Internet” was able to weigh in. Very big if true!

      This stood out:

      We did this by culturing bacteria from our microbiome and the virus. First, we took the fecal swab of some COVID-19 patients and cultured it for up to 7.14 and 30 days, seeing that the virus increased RNA production. Then, we took the virus and cultured it with bacteria from the fecal swab of a non-sick person, seeing that it was replicating here too. Finally, we took the bacteria from the first experiment and separated them from the virus! We grew them on their own and at 30 days they kept producing virions. The evidence was clear and we were incredulous at what we observed.

      Made me wonder if the Chinese might be on to something with their anal swabs. Which is I was very happy to see addressed later in the article:

      Since last September we have been recommending the swab in the feces and now even the Chinese have noticed it: the oro-nose-pharyngeal swab can give false negatives.

      I’ve already sent the article to a friend who works in a cancer research lab, as well as my brother. I really hope this gains traction — or is meticulously disproved — but quickly, in either case.

      1. c_heale

        Just read this link and it seems dubious to say the least. One statement is that it can be treated with antibiotics. It can’t. It’s a virus.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I don’t doubt the theory linked above is garbage, but I don’t think it is 100% accurate to say that viruses don’t infect bacteria. There is evidence of virus-bacterial interaction in quite a number of diseases, and this seems to include viruses hijacking bacteria for their own ends.

        Virus-Bacteria Interactions: An Emerging Topic in Human Infection

        Virus–Bacteria Interactions: Implications and Potential for the Applied and Agricultural Sciences

        Herpesvirus‐bacteria synergistic interaction in periodontitis

        I’ve no idea if this is a serious line of inquiry for any mainstream scientists involved with Covid.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          “Interactions” are a shit ton short of a virus invading a bacteria. Particularly the periodontic one (I don’t have periodonitis but I know more about dentistry than I ought to) are explicitly about <strong>synergies, as in both pathogens mutually benefiting.

          This is from a professor of bioscience/biomedicine who did fundamental research back when it was interesting (the period 35 to 15 years ago):

          The science is sketchy at best and hypothetical in the extreme. The biology of a human virus infecting a bacterial cell seems very farfetched, not least because bacteria have a cell wall that would really get in the way (cell wall is outside of the cell membrane; all prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells have a cell/plasma membrane but no animal cell has a cell wall; bacteria, protists, and Fungi have cell walls. It is also unlikely that a bacterial enzymes and cytoplasm could support human viral replication).

          But, I will look. OK, I looked by asking a former colleague and collaborator who is a very accomplished virologist, well known Dean, Department Chair, at the top of her field: “Not as far as I have ever heard – the wall of the bacteria would be so different so it wouldn’t penetrate, and then the interior would have too many differences likely.”

          1. PlutoniumKun

            I suspect we are dealing here with different definitions of what constitutes an ‘invasion’. From my long ago studies in biology we were taught about bacteriophages, which are viruses that specialise in attacking bacteria.

            This is a long way outside my area of expertise, so I won’t comment further.

  22. Keith Newman

    Re the last animal photo: “When you don’t have time for this crap”
    It reminded me of Merhaba, the cat who deigned to reside at my house for 17 years – also known as The Supreme Imperial Mistress of the Multiverse. Anyway, to my point. The Supreme One had the habit of peeing in my neighbour’s flowerbed and scratching the dirt on the surface afterwards as cats are wont to do. My neighbour placed closely-spaced pointy skewers all around the flowerbed to prevent Her Majesty from peeing there. In vain! I once watched The Supreme One pick Her way gingerly through the spikes and pee right in the middle of the flowers!

  23. Aaron

    It’s interesting how the Newsom recall effort has largely stayed off the media radar. The recall campaign has managed to collect 2.1 million signatures. They need about 1.5 million valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. A 75% acceptance is quite possible. 2.1 million is quite low, given that there are about 21 million registered voters.

    It’s been a while since there was a major recall election. Coincidentally, Cuomo is in trouble at the other coast.

    A progressive challenger to Newsom would have gained some traction. But Sanders quashed it early by throwing his support behind Newsom. Pity. If Dems decide that the recall will never succeed, and do not to run anyone, then the Republican challenger might benefit. Quite a stretch of imagination, but still, talk is cheap.

    1. zagonostra

      It doesn’t seem to matter if you have all state legislature and Gov. controlled by the Dems when it comes to single payer if you recall Anthony Rendon “shelving” proposal. So if Newsom is recalled and another Dem is selected, nothing will much change I would venture at least if and until a 3’d party emerges.

      The exorbitant cost of developing a new system is a major hurdle. In 2017, the last time California lawmakers floated a single-payer proposal, a state legislative analysis pegged the projected cost at $400 billion a year. Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon shelved the proposal, calling it “woefully incomplete,” in part because it was unveiled without a financing mechanism.

  24. SKM

    re suspension of use of AstraZ vaccine in many EY countries:
    A few simple points:
    There is an observed background incidence of thrombolytic events in any given population
    These still ocurr during a mass vaccination campaign! Deaths due to this and other factors happen whether people have just been vaccinated or not, it only matters if the rates are demostrably higher in recently vaccinated people.
    In the Oxford trial such events of course happened after injection of both vaccine and placebo. It so happened that in this trial there were more such events in the placebo arm than in the vaccine arm
    In the UK where over 10 million first doses have been given the number of (inevitable) such events was not greater than expected for that population number.
    The same rate of such events has been observed also for the mRNA vaccines.
    All this begs the question of why this furor now in Europe over normal health events in the population and applied to only one brand of Covid vaccine (and one that can most quickly/easily and cheaply save lives).
    Bear a thought for all the extra illness and likely deaths from delays to the vaccination campaign in the midst of a largely out of control pandemic in Europe. Here in Europe we are not being vaccinated fast enough as it is, people are getting sick dying everywhere here.
    The media frenzy over this has led to many more people saying they`d refuse AstraZ if offered it (a poll on NDR German tv)
    I`m in Italy and there are enough problems without this….
    I`m no fan of big Pharma, quite the opposite, but this is worse than ridiculous – it`s once again putting politics/? before lives and well-being….

  25. Andrew Watts

    RE: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister warns the Biden Administration

    People need to stop referring to Kim Yo Jong as Kim Jong Un’s sister. She also said the following in her Rodong Sinmun article. “War rehearsals cannot coexist with dialogue, hostility cannot coexist with cooperation,”. Which sounds a lot more conciliatory and less over-dramatic.

    But it doesn’t sell fear or weapons and isn’t that the whole point of stories like this?

  26. Tomonthebeach

    COVID-19 Passports for Pinheads. The Aljazeera article seemed amazingly out of touch with reality. Its head was stuck in the rut of poor stigmatized people who cannot afford shots and tests. People in such life situations are not world travelers. By definition, travelers have money enough for limos, hotels, and airline tickets. Arguing that there is no “proof” that vaccination means you cannot carry the virus is also lame because it is airborne mainly via human breath. If it gets inside a vaccinated breather, it is not likely to leave in the same condition in which it was inhaled. Then there is the public health issue. Governments will want to know that visitors are not hibernating pandemic producers – airlines too. That is how we created the pandemic in the first place.

    What might kill passports is how easily such documents can be counterfeited. Nevertheless, my VaxxCard is tucked in my passport.

    1. Cuibono

      “Its head was stuck in the rut of poor stigmatized people who cannot afford shots and tests”

      i wasnt sure this post was tongue in cheek till i read that

  27. George Phillies, N3F President

    “lightening bolt” Is this something that causes you to lose weight, as opposed to “lightning bolt”, something that causes you to become dead? Assuredly, “lightening” has a time-honored reference, namely it was used in the First Edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

    1. John Anthony La Pietra

      Sorry — no U in that “seigyo”. (Actually, if it were correct, it would be an indicator that the O sound was long.)

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I just ran this past a Japanese friend – she said the meaning is literally ‘uncontrollable’, but has a more general meaning of ‘losing control of a machine’ or ‘a machine that can’t be controlled’, which I think is a pretty good slogan for Fukushima.

  28. Susan the other

    Wolfgang Streeck on “Indecent Work”. It’s interesting that there are statutory laws controlling the exploitation of workers by pimps like Uber but there are no “employment” laws to back them up. Nothing actually governs a private contract between two parties. How can you declare anything to be a law if it is unenforceable?

  29. occasional anonymous

    >The Royal Family always wins UnHerd

    “The monarch, her family, their flunkies, valets, chauffeurs, gardeners, manicurists, toadies, lovers, bodyguards, back-up toadies and piss-pot holders — they’re our subjects.”

    Rationalizing nonsense. Ctrl + F for ‘wealth’, ‘money’, ‘land’, ‘holdings’; no hits. They’re weirdo parasites that live off rents and investments, as well as a certain amount of public money. The Queen also retains some degree of real legal power, which she can on occasion exercise. That many people think of them merely as charming super-celebrities and an institution that is an idiosyncratic source a national pride (???) merely shows how powerful propaganda is.

  30. MarkT

    I’m playing catch-up here again. Thank you for the piece about New Zealand house prices yesterday.

    What never ceases to amaze me about the media narrative here in NZ is the focus on “lack of supply”. There is never any mention of pricing issues (ie. historically low interest rates). Not to mention any broader discussion of economic issues. (Or the actions of the previous ex merchant banker Prime Minister who sold off state housing to the private sector … surely a supply issue?)

  31. MarkT

    And time for another rant.

    I am a scientist who is sick and tired of seeing the WHO blamed for poor Covid advice. The WHO is there to coordinate cooperation between member states of the UN. If the WHO says “masks are not needed” it’s because they have read no literature which says that they are. Very simple, really. Anyone who is trying to tell you another story is misinformed about the role of the WHO.

    The head of WHO spoke in terms of a “global health emergency” long before the WHO called it a “pandemic”, and day after day he urged governments to take immediate action. Declaring “a pandemic” is simply a technical issue stating that the disease is everywhere.

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