Links 3/18/2021

Lambert here: Yves asks me to say that if you don’t see a second CalPERS post, it’s coming. She had a power failure, due to thunderstorms (!).

Missing cat is found 13 YEARS after vanishing from owners’ house after he was brought into adoption centre and staff scanned his microchip Daily Mail

Sperm whales in 19th century shared ship attack information Guardian

Mars Is Hiding Its ‘Lost’ Water Beneath the Surface, New Research Suggests Gizmodo (original).

Supply chain ‘sovereignty’ will undo globalisation’s gains FT

The Revolt Against the 30% Mafia Moe Tkacik, Marker

New-Fangled Tulips (NFTs):

And the technical catch:

So I guess we’ll be seeing a market in “NFT insurance” any day.


The US vaccine effect: rapid rollout starts to bear fruit FT

School reopening without robust COVID-19 mitigation risks accelerating the pandemic The Lancet. While I have questioned the fungibility of data sans epidemiology across national borders, I do note that Lancet recommends the following:


  • Open windows and doors
  • Teach outdoors (or in large halls) wherever possible
  • Use CO2 monitors to assess air quality
  • Install High Efficiency Particulate Air filters with air cleaning devices
  • All physical education outdoors
  • No high-risk lessons (eg, singing, brass or wind instruments), except remotely

In its school re-opening guidelines, CDC emphatically makes no recommendations on ventilation whatever. Commentary on the article in this thread:

COVID-19 has closed a Philly school that just reopened for in-person learning Inquirer. Nobody could have predicted….

Biden administration to allocate billions toward COVID-19 testing for schools ABC

Racial Gaps in Vaccine Willingness Are Narrowing, but Partisan Ones Persist Morning Consult

How to Build a Better Homemade Face Mask, According to Science Smithsonian. Citizen science!

Crying wolf in time of Corona: the strange case of ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. Is the fear of failure withholding potential life-saving treatment from clinical use? Signae Vitae. Peer-reviewed and indexed, albeit Croation.


How Chinese princes lived lives of privilege and precariousness SCMP. Hmm.

Chinese economy: Beijing’s war on the credit boom FT

Alaska meeting; EU sanctions; Dates set for Kovrig and Spavor trials; WHO-China report Sinocism

Hong Kong’s Lam vows ‘full alert’ against artworks endangering national security, as artist warns of ‘devastating’ crackdown Hong Kong Free Press


A day of tragedy and terror in Hlaing Tharyar Frontier Myanmar. Still going:

And going:

The military’s war on journalists Frontier Myanmar. Along with Internet and mobile shutdowns:

Buddhist group signals break with Myanmar authorities over crackdown, junta builds case against Suu Kyi Reuters

Primark supplier accused of locking workers in factory in Myanmar protests Guardian

Myanmar coup: What protesters can learn from the ‘1988 generation’ BBC

Myanmar construction magnate claims cash payments to Suu Kyi AP. Oh.

The Risky Business of Emerging Manufacturing Hubs Business of Fashion

Australia Posts First Quarterly Decline in Population Since 1916 Bloomberg


Covid vaccine: India shortfall behind UK’s supply delay BBC

Night life in the darkness of White Town People’s Archive of Rural India.

Nigeria’s crypto startups and traders are still at the mercy of its central bank Quartz


Biden on US meeting looming Afghanistan withdrawal deadline: ‘Could happen, but it is tough’ CNN. Meanwhile, a lovely example of a self-licking ice cream cone:

The Libya Allergy Foreign Policy

Coronavirus: Knesset okays electronic bracelet for returnees from abroad Jerusalem Post (Re Silc).

Baby bottle craze sweeps Gulf Arab states, sparks backlash Channel News Asia


‘I Have No Money for Food’: Among the Young, Hunger Is Rising NYT

4 Dutch election takeaways Politico

Capitol Seizure

Proud Boys Leaders in Four States Are Charged in Capitol Riot NYT (Furzy Mouse).

Biden Administration

CFPB Urges Banks, Collectors To Not Touch Stimulus Checks Law360

Treasury and IRS extend filing and payment deadline to May 17 U.S. Department of the Treasury

The Democrats’ two-step to filibuster reform Axios

The Filibuster, Aaron Burr, and Mitch McConnell Hogeland’s Bad History

Power Up: Only roughly a fifth of Senate Democrats are committed to totally scrapping the filibuster WaPo

Treasury says state tax cuts OK if separated from virus aid AP

US House Republicans end earmarks ban ahead of Biden’s infrastructure push Channel News Asia

Surge in Migrants Defies Easy or Quick Solutions for Biden NYT. But the babies! In cages!

House Democrats Push To Revive ‘Medicare For All’ Effort Kaiser Health News. A round-up.

Were the Airline Bailouts Really Needed? NYT

Rip Up the Unemployment System and Start Again The New Republic

America’s Drinking Water Is Surprisingly Easy to Poison Pro Publica (Re Silc).

Intelligence Community

Domestic violent extremism is ‘greatest’ threat,’ Homeland Security secretary says CNN

CIA Headquarters Got Vaccinated in Early January, Rankling Intelligence Officers Abroad The Intercerpt (Furzy Mouse).

Alexander Reid Ross, disgraced author of several retracted articles, works with ex-cops, CIA spies, and DHS agents The Gray Zone

US Intelligence Cartel: All The Governments We Hate Interfered In Our Election Caitlin Johnstone

Our Famously Free Press

Journalists, Illustrating How They Operate, Yesterday Spread a Significant Lie All Over Twitter Glenn Greenwald

Health Care

A doctor dreams of moving to Canada Libby Watson, Sick Note

Majority of largest hospitals ‘unambiguously noncompliant’ with revealing prices online: report Health Care Dive

Guillotine Watch

Tesla reportedly had 450 cases of coronavirus at its California plant after reopening last May The Verge. Twitter thread from the source that actually broke the story:

Goldman Sachs executive buys Jeffrey Epstein mansion The Hill. Perfect.

Class Warfare

Empathetic Robots Are Killing Off the World’s Call-Center Industry Bloomberg

Recent Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Doesn’t Mean Anti-Asian Racism Is New Teen Vogue

Column: Why do so many Mexican Americans defend Speedy Gonzales? LA Times. That’s Mexican Americanx.

Wagnermania The Baffler. “Russian revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin [was] later cited by George Bernard Shaw as the model for Siegfried, anarchic Übermensch of the Ring cycle” (!!!!). “Dumb as a tenor” certainly isn’t the first opera cliché I’d apply to Bakunin!

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote (with sound up). Good kitty:

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. zagonostra

    >Proud Boys Leaders in Four States Are Charged in Capitol Riot – NYT

    I’m confused, maybe by design. This is from the above article.

    While the Proud Boys had largely managed to avoid federal scrutiny, that changed after the Jan. 6 riot. The F.B.I. began aggressively investigating members of the group involved in the attack on the Capitol.

    And yet, in an earlier NYT article they quote from Reuters’ the following:

    Enrique Tarrio, the leader of the Proud Boys extremist group, has a past as an informer for federal and local law enforcement, repeatedly working undercover for investigators after he was arrested in 2012,

    Which is it?

    1. marym

      From the link it doesn’t seem as though he was an undercover cop in the PB, but an informer years before in “cases involving drugs, gambling and human smuggling.”

      Being a cop/informer/cop supporter and being part of a right-wing militant group aren’t necessarily incompatible. Maybe it won’t always be clear from the info we get whether cops in right-wing groups are undercover/provocateur cops, cops supporting right wing causes on their own time, or ex-cops who joined right wing groups.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You may be right about ‘Being a cop/informer/cop supporter and being part of a right-wing militant group aren’t necessarily incompatible.’ I cannot recall where I saw it but it was not unknown for 19th century revolutionaries to be also undercover agents for money, the purpose being the revolution needed money to run and cash for informing from the State was one avenue. Also a nice way to feed the State disinformation and to give them actionable intelligence on rival revolutionary groups.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Or current right-wing-militant organization members tasked with infiltrating police forces.

    2. km

      It would not surprise me in the least to find that all kinds of extremist movements, left and right and uncategorizable, are riddled with undercover cops and informers from one jurisdiction or another, in one form or another.

      Some may even be supporters, or they may be playing both sides.

      It also would not surprise me to learn that some of those cops not wholly or in part on the side of the movements they are supposedly infiltrating are engaged in entrapment, only to develop sudden amnesia when it comes time to testify.

  2. Martin Oline

    “Putin is a killer” is not a story today I guess. They recalled their ambassador. I watched Oliver Stone’s interview last year and it is readily apparent that Vladimir Putin is a diplomatic person and not a thug. It must be tough to have to deal with an idiot head of state and he has my sympathy, We have all been treated to the low level of intelligence so clearly exhibited by our ‘ambassador’ corps during the impeachment hearings in the House. Our government is a clown car looking for a pile up.
    quote – Konstantin Kosachyov, the deputy chairman of the parliament’s upper house, called Biden’s answer a watershed moment in the relationship between the two countries. He said such a comment “is not allowed from the mouth of a statesman of such a rank.”

    1. The Rev Kev

      “Putin is a killer?” Pretty sad that even Trump has a better grasp of reality here when he said in an interview-

      “But he’s a killer,” Bill O’Reilly said to Trump.

      “There are a lot of killers. You think our country’s so innocent?” Trump replied.

      Biden even said that Putin has no soul but this is not true. George Bush looked into his eyes and saw his soul.

      1. John A

        I seem to recall the sainted Obama boasting to his aides “Turns Out I’m Really Good At Killing People”.

        Did Biden look into Obama’s eyes and spot he had no soul either? The two spent 8 years in almost daily contact, after all.

        1. Synoia

          The proctologist found no evidence of a Soul in any politician. Others found riches form kissing that source.

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          The whole I talked to Putin mano a mano is just weird. Joe as far as I know doesn’t speak Russian or German, and Putin’s english is good for a Russian who learned German first. You can’t have a serious conversation without translators.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            Its the Presidency of the US. There is no need for a tough guy act. Its like how rich people go to the bank in whatever in whatever they feel like. This behavior is what a Canadian PM might have to do while trying to pretend the swill they call syrup is edible.

          1. Arizona Slim

            Uttered by Hillary Clinton, then the Secretary of State, in response to the grisly death of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

    2. fresno dan

      Martin Oline
      March 18, 2021 at 7:35 am
      The report finds that China “considered but did not deploy influence efforts intended to change the outcome of the US Presidential election,” and that it “probably continued to collect intelligence on election-related targets and topics” and “a probably also continued longstanding efforts to gather information on US voters and public opinion; political parties, candidates and their staffs; and senior government officials.”
      So, Russia was backing Trump* (according to our vaunted intelligence agencies as reported by our vaunted free press…) Well, everybody knows that if you don’t vote for one of the two major parties your wasting your vote (OF COURSE, I always say voting dem or repub is wasting your vote). Those Chinese – pretty obvious to them that they could support the dem corrupt, or the repub dishonest, but if your really want to undermine the US, you can’t do better than what we’re doing now…


      1. The Rev Kev

        Funny thing about Russia in Oz. So the head of our ASIO (our spook organization) has just announced that they have dismantled a bunch of spies and sent them packing. He would not say where they came from but did say that they were not Chinese. Over the course of today, I have heard three different “experts” claim that they must have been Russians. But that makes no sense as the present government is hostile to Russia and would say it so likely they were from another country that they did not want to embarrass which suggest a ‘friendly’ country. France maybe? Israel? Japan? Take your pick-

    3. cnchal

      > . . . He said such a comment “is not allowed from the mouth of a statesman of such a rank.”

      That is a category error by Mr. Kosachyov. Nobody at the top of the heap in the US government is a statesman.

      1. Tom Doak

        It was a simple translation error. He really said “from the mouth of such a rank statesman”.

    4. Kasia

      Here we see the relative differences between Q-Anon and Blue-Anon. While Q-Anon may be clownishly moronic, Blue-Anon is downright scary and dangerous. Hollywood and political elites are well positioned to defend themselves from Q-Anon attacks but the Blue-Anon gaslighting campaign against Putin can lead to some very unfortunate but perhaps quite intended consequences. It’s one thing to start a smear campaign against local elites. It is quite a different story unleash your tribal narcissistic rage against a nuclear-armed global power. In their incoherent word salad attacks on Putin, they never stop to ask themselves why the arch villain Putin succeeded in throwing an election with the valiant Obama in charge but failed against his supposed puppet Trump?

      1. pjay

        This is a very important point – the relative power of these contrasting “conspiracy theorists” to unleash chaos and destruction on the world.

        Regarding Martin Oline’s “clown car” comment above: of all the disturbing aspects of Russiagate, the scariest for me was watching the testimony of our Russia “experts” in academia and the diplomatic corp during the (first) impeachment hearings. Such Russiaphobia and distortion of history is bad enough when it is purely cynical propaganda. But some of these “clowns” actually seemed to believe what they were saying, which was very unnerving. Then again, I suppose that’s the measure of a good conspiracy theory!

      2. Aumua

        “Blue Anon” is a term coined by conservatives attacking those who push “left wing conspiracy theories.” The phrase returned to the Urban Dictionary website after it appeared to have been temporarily removed.

        “Blue Anon” has been used by a number of right wing personalities in recent days, including political commentator Candace Owens and Georgia congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene.”

        Note the misuse of ‘left wing’.

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      Question Number 1 on the Presidential Cognitive Abilities Assessment:

      Which one of these is not like the others?

      1. Putin is a killer.

      2. Putin has no soul.

      3. Putin will pay.

      4. There are issues of mutual interest on which the two countries can “work together.”

      PS. I think I read somewhere that when asked to spell “Putin” at the National Presidential Spelling Bee, biden responded, without hesitation, C-O-R-N P-O-P.

    6. km

      That is rich, coming from the country that brought us Iraq, Syria. Somalia, Ukraine, Yemen, Libya, etc..

      Or did eevil Russians trick our politicians, who are guilty of nothing more than being overly trusting, into invading these countries?

      1. ddt

        And not only that, when we abandoned our “allies” the Kurds to the whims of our “allies” the Turks, it was the Russians that put their troops in harms way to avoid another massacre in Syria.

        1. km

          Boy howdy do we weep copiously over the plight of Muh Poor Kurds (when they prove a convenient) only to drop them like a hot turd as soon as they are no longer useful.

      2. Doc Octagon

        All the above countries were client states of the CCCP.

        Not claiming causality, but maybe examples of states experiencing the consequences of real politick on a crowded world stage and cynical revolutionaries holding a country together with secret police and ethnic strife. The 20th century has shown national alliances are willing to enter conflicts at the risk of “losing”, in lives and treasure, to discover and degrade the capabilities of rival powers. Maybe paranoia is a defining trait of the nation-state. Or just the US.

        1. flora

          The CCCP ended in late 1990’s. So… er… um… is DC stuck in a time warp?

          Does DC politics *need* the old cold war status quo as a talking point for some reason? Heck, DC destroyed the old cold war status quo in late 1990’s, so why refer constantly back to that world which they’ve already changed, using it as a leitmotif for their current actions and rationales? It’s a mystery.

          1. Jeff W

            “Does DC politics *need* the old cold war status quo as a talking point for some reason?”

            Daniel Bessner, a historian who teaches at the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington, talking about the US’s “pivot to Asia,” from this past weekend’s Weekend show from Jacobin:

            Nineteen-thirties American liberalism defined itself almost by necessity in dialogue with an existential enemy—first the Nazis, then the Soviets, then, like, “ending holocausts” in the 1990s, then Islamic Terror, and now China.

            So there’s this long-term historical thing that you need an enemy to provide a justification for the empire because why else are you spending this amount of money, why else are you having 750 military bases, a more-than-$740 billion military budget, unless there’s an existential enemy. So, in some sense, the pivot to China is just the latest sort of cycle for this need for an existential enemy.

            [my transcript, emphasis added]

            Bessner says such an existential enemy also serves to paper over internal divisions within the US and “put together a crumbling American society.”

      1. Jeff W

        Natasha: You’re not going to spray them [Congress] with goof gas?
        Boris: It’s too late. Somebody beat us to it.

    7. zagonostra

      This has to be one of the most revealing interviews I’ve ever seen. Not for the content so much as the form. A stenographer to power on full exhibit. To hear these two metaphysically challenged representatives of the establishment discuss Putin’s “soul” staggers the mind. And all this in the wake of the completely discredited 4 year Russiagate debacle…wow.

      GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Director of National Intelligence came out with a report today saying that Vladimir Putin authorized operations during the election to under — denigrate you, support President Trump, undermine our elections, divide our society. What price must he pay?

      PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: He will pay a price. I, we had a long talk, he and I, when we — I know him relatively well. And I– the conversation started off, I said, “I know you and you know me. If I establish this occurred, then be prepared.”

      GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: You said you know he doesn’t have a soul.

      PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I did say that to him, yes. And — and his response was, “We understand one another.” It was– I wasn’t being a wise guy. I was alone with him in his office. And that — that’s how it came about. It was when President Bush had said, “I looked in his eyes and saw his soul.” I said, “Looked in your eyes and I don’t think you have a soul.” And looked back and he said, “We understand each other.” Look, most important thing dealing with foreign leaders in my experience, and I’ve dealt with an awful lot of ’em over my career, is just know the other guy. Don’t expect somethin’ that you’re– that — don’t expect him to– or her to– voluntarily appear in the second editions of Profiles in Courage.

      GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So you know Vladimir Putin. You think he’s a killer?

      PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Uh-huh. I do.

      GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: So what price must he pay?

      PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: The price he’s gonna pay we’ll– you’ll see shortly.

    8. PlutoniumKun

      There are precedents for world leaders to publicly trade insults while privately assuring each other behind the scenes that it was all for public consumption and that really they understand each others positions perfectly. I believe even JFK and Khrushchev did a bit of that.

      The problem is that this doesn’t seem to be the case anymore. I did think that at least with Biden there would be a bit of old fashioned seriousness to go with the neocon policies, but it seems we don’t even get that. He is appointing some of the worst people possible to foreign policy positions – he seems already to have sent the South Koreans into despair with his repeat of the mistakes of the Obama era.

      1. Michaelmas

        I did think that at least with Biden there would be a bit of old fashioned seriousness to go with the neocon policies

        Why did you think that? You were told “America is back” and “Nothing will change.” This was bound to translate into, as you said, a “repeat of the mistakes of the Obama era.”

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya” -Obama on his worst mistake.

        That’s why pencils have erasers!

        1. flora

          What happened to the “Don’t worry, I got this” talking point? He failed to plan for the day after a serious intervention in a foreign country? There’s an old, old saying (joke) in finance: “I didn’t plan to fail, I failed to plan.”

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        If South Korea wants to escape the endless hamster wheel, it can close down its Office of Korean Re-unification and officially renounce its Syngman Rhee era dream of ” re-unifying the North on Southern terms”.

        And see how North Korea responds.

    9. Pelham

      Re the government clown car: That’s certainly the appearance and perhaps the reality.

      I wonder, though, whether the clownishness we see is geared somehow to what the elites regard as the US public’s level of intelligence or piecemeal media consumption. If that’s the case, the elites would be both cleverer and more evil than we imagine, pursuing global goals that — were they candidly revealed — would rightly appall most of us.

      I’ve been reading recently about US foreign policy beginning in the First World War and extending into the years just after the Second World War and have been impressed by the cynical and consistent drive to displace the UK as a world dominator. It’s not something the general public, I think, understands but is the kind of narrative they could easily enough grasp if it were presented to them. It isn’t. We get different stories that sound plausible enough but remain conveniently incomplete, suggesting that elites across generations may have always had an agenda separate from the one they spool out to the public.

      1. Judith

        See Stephen Wertheim’s book “Tomorrow, the World: The Birth of U.S. Global Supremacy”.

        “In Tomorrow, the World, Stephen Wertheim reveals that American leaders made a conscious decision for global dominance. In just eighteen months before the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the United States into the Second World War, US officials and intellectuals decided not only to enter the war but also to enforce “world order” in perpetuity.”

    10. marku52

      That was really stupid. I guess an example of Joe shooting off his mouth, a not-unheard-of event.

      Is there a point to saying “Kim Jung Un is effing nuts!” even if true? Not really. You are still stuck on the same planet with him and, as no less a warmonger than Churchill pointed out:
      “Jaw Jaw is better than war war”

    11. Phil in KC

      Imagine, if you will, the outcomes of different responses:

      1. No, Putin is not a killer. Response would be similar to Gerald Ford’s “no oppression in Poland” during the 1976 Presidential debate. Ford got no love from Brezhnev or anyone else for that matter.

      2. Sidestep the question. Response would be outrage that Biden wouldn’t answer a straightforward question about Putin, especially after all the spark and fury of discussions of the Trump-Putin relationship.

      In other words, this was not the worst answer. No one was asking for an assessment of any other world leader, or of world leaders in general.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Or he could have said a version of what Trump said to Billo Reilly in an interview.

        ” All world leaders are killers. It comes with the job.”

    12. MarkT

      According to RT, Putin’s reply was very psychologically erudite. As in, a paranoid nation will project it’s own paranoia onto others.

    13. Mike B

      In the articles about “Putin is a killer”, there are references to Putin responding with commentary about the US having problems with its past of slavery and current problems with coming to grips with racism. To me, this is a tell. It shows that he is fully aware of the trigger points that destabilize the US. It makes me wonder to what extent, Russian propaganda amplifies the signal of “systemic racism” in US social media in order to cause chaos.

      What about Navalny? Putin apparently POISONED his political rival. Amnesty Intl. has abandoned Navalny and he will be Gulaged. Is Putin not an attempted killer? Have I been misled to believe this?

      1. lyman alpha blob

        So because Putin is aware of the US civil war, it follows that he is stoking unrest based on that a century and a half later?!? Maybe the US should plant some Bakunin clickbait ads on Russian websites to retaliate – Putin wouldn’t last another day in office because evidently nobody can resist clickbait propaganda.

        Since you asked, yes you have been misled.

  3. maplesyrup

    “Putin is a Killer – he’ll pay” Well, considering bin Salman -Khashoggi… souldn’t hurt too much.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “CIA Headquarters Got Vaccinated in Early January, Rankling Intelligence Officers Abroad The Intercerpt”

    Not really surprising this as it is DC. As the article mentions, this happened with State Department officers overseas as well. It even happened with overseas employees of the big media companies but this could be worse this. Based on a true incident that happened not too many years ago in Iran, CIA headquarters could do a mass email to all their undercover agents offering a free vaccination for all their services to the CIA with a request to contact their handlers for more details. The email would be in the clear and every email recipient would be in the header of each email.

    1. Procopius

      I seem to recall something similar in China, except they thought they were using secure communications. From the story that I recall (which may be distorted), they lost every agent in China. I would bet that every agent they now have in China is compromised. Heck, I would bet every agent they have anywhere, including in Israel, is compromised.

  5. zagonostra


    Chinese companies filed more European patent applications in 2020 than in the previous year
    On Tuesday, the European Patent Office…showed patent applications from Chinese inventors amounted to 13,432 last year, an increase of 9.9 percent year-on-year.

    The increase contrasts with lower patent application numbers from most other leading technology regions. United States companies filed 4.1 percent fewer applications in 2020.

    …Chinese companies are becoming increasingly active in patenting inventions in a diverse range of technologies, the report noted.

    1. Maritimer

      An excellent movie on this subject about Robert Kearns the guy who invented the intermittent wiper. It’s about how Big Auto tried to rip him off. Very surprised this movie ever got made. See your local Torrent dealer.

      In the 1970s, I had a patentable invention and sought legal advice. I did a bit of my own research and one thing I found was an article in the NYT stating that the first thing the Japanese would do in attacking a problem would be to comb National Patent database for ideas and approaches to their particular problem. So, if you publish, maybe not a good idea.

      Another thing I read was “Obtaining a patent only gives you the right to sue.” Well, good luck, suing any entity bigger than yourself. Very costly and iffy.

      My decision was fuggedaboutit. I would imagine things are even worse today.

      1. Procopius

        Yeah, the Wright brothers died broke because they spent all their profits suing patent infringers, but the technology was advancing so rapidly their patents were obsolete before the courts got around to their suits.

  6. John Beech

    The President’s response to the query about Mr. Putin being a killer was crassly ignorant of the need to get along with a nuclear power and honestly, has left me wondering with regard to his mental acuity. We need to get along whether we like it or not and this one statement, made in such naive fashion leaves me bumfuddled as in, doesn’t he realize the import of making such a statement as the sitting President of the United States and how this doesn’t further our aims? Seems not so much silly as stupid because it’s one ting to hold this as a private opinion, even if the CIA has presented data it’s a fact, and a whole other ting to mention the elephant in the room. How do we benefit by his saying this about the Russian Federation’s most powerful politician? This wasn’t two guys sharing a beer and solving the world’s ills one night, this was the President sticking his foot in his mouth before the entire world! Good grief!

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      He would have said the same thing years ago, before any borderline senility set in. It’s just Biden doing Biden.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Looking at the Mountain Lion in today’s Antidote du jour, are their paws always so big? Or is that just the camera angle? They look huge. Asking for a friend that is glad that we don’t have any here.

    1. The Historian

      I have never been close to a live mountain lion, but I have helped pull a couple of dead ones out of the driving lanes in Montana and yesssss! Their paws are huge!

      1. The Rev Kev

        Thanks. I would have guessed that the larger paws were to give it better grip going over, well, mountains but according to Wikipedia ‘The larger front feet and claws are adaptations to clutching prey.’ I hadn’t noticed in that image that the front feet were in fact larger.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Nothing like being stalked to make things real. The guy was unlucky enough to wander by a coupla cubs so the mother decided to give him a personal escort out of the area. Whew! Down here we have a few nasty, vicious animals as well. One guy foolishly left his car door open and when he returned found that he had a wild animal now inside taking over possession leaving him the problem of how to safely get it out again and his car back again-

   (3:10 mins)

          2. Stephen Gardner

            Even bobcats have big paws for their size. I think it’s a predator thing. We had a bobcat in our yard a few years ago. At first I thought it was a big housecat but the paws were too big, the ears too furry and the tail too short but other than that it was pretty much like a big brownish Tabby. :-)

    2. Wukchumni

      Just after the turn of the century, we invited one of the employees @ the Bearpaw Meadow high sierra camp to join us for Burning Man that year and he dutifully did and we had a blast and parted ways after Labor Day, he drove home in his soft topped Jeep to the Bay Area, got a speeding ticket en route, and a thief cut a hole in his roof with a knife on the street in SF and made off with his meager alkali dust shrouded belongings, and he knew he had to get out of there and back to work!

      Most jobs don’t require a 11 & 1/2 mile walk to your workplace, but if your job is working @ the high sierra camp in Sequoia NP, its the way in & out as Bearpaw Meadow is right on the High Sierra Trail and you start from the Crescent Meadow grove of Giant Sequoias trailhead.

      This stretch of the HST is about as flat as you can hope for in the High Sierra, and he used to like to trail run the mellower stretches and hike the uphills, and hiking @ night by himself was no biggie.

      So the way he told me it went down, was he was around 7 miles in and in an area where granite cliffs had a 1/4 mile shelf blasted to allow the trail to continue on in the 1920’s when the trail was built, and there’s no place to escape up or down as it’s shear with a drop of several hundred feet, and he comes jogging around a corner of boulders and related that his mind asked him upon first sight as he came up behind the rump of a four legged animal:

      ‘…what’s a pony doing by itself on the trail…?’

      Except it wasn’t Mr. Ed…

      He realized it quick enough and grabbed a granite boulder nearby and held his ground while holding his arms out in order to make himself look bigger and the Cougar went the other way as dusk was setting in, and he still had over 4 miles to walk.

      …he never ran* that trail again

      * almost all Mountain Lion attacks in Cali happen to runners or mountain bikers, aka prey

      Somebody else’s Mountain Lion encounter on the HST:

      1. The Rev Kev

        When I was watching that film of the guy going around the corner, I found myself tilting my head trying to see around it first. Helluva surprise to se it just watching him. Looks like that cat knows about the Stand Your Ground laws.

  8. Mr Magoo

    Re: “Recent Rise in Anti-Asian Hate Crimes Doesn’t Mean Anti-Asian Racism Is New”

    Is the fact that the perpetrator basically admitted his motivation was about lashing out against the massage parlors that he viewed as a temptation against his sex addiction problem, not worthy of a component in a headline?

    My household is literally half Asian. Somehow, the exponential rise in ‘anti-Asian’ events in the news, is doing nothing more than drive clicks – and a lot of tension in my household, among others as well I suspect. One unfortunate event in SF against an elderly Asian man has, and the international attention that has gathered, seemed to invite a lot of searching for similar events everywhere.

    It would be nice to know if the the data supports the purported trend of a higher percentage of violence and violent crimes directed against Asians, or it is only convenient to generate traffic – or deflect discussion of the origins of the virus?

    1. km

      Being a victim and a member of a victim class gives one privileged status.

      It is in your best interest to be seen as a victim.

    2. marym

      All we know about motivation in this case is what the cop said the killer said.

      It would probably take some more expert effort to unwind whether the (in his opinion inappropriate) attraction for which he’s blaming his victims is based gender or some combination of gender, ethnicity, profession, and subservient social status.

      I can’t answer your question about statistics. Here’s a link about challenges in whether crimes are prosecuted as hate crimes, with other links, though the story is anecdotal rather than statistical.

      In any case, regardless of hate-crime prosecution statistics, anecdotal evidence, or the origins of the pandemic, there’s a lot of hate mongering and violence in this country against individuals and groups who have nothing to do with the root causes of the perpetrators’ grievances. I hope that your household can feel and be safe.

    3. Lee

      Recent stats are not yet available, but the following indicate a relatively low number of hate crimes against Asians in recent pre-Pandemic years.

      U.S. (2019) hate crimes broken down by race of victims. There are additional groups listed at the linked site.

      Black: 2,391

      White: 775

      Hispanics: 693

      Asian: 215

      Here in California between 2009 and 2018, Asians, making up 14.19% of the total population, were hate crime victims in 3.2% out of the 1,066 such instances reported during that period.

      The recent attacks against Asians would have to be quite high for them to reach levels commensurate with those perpetrated against other groups.

      Never let a crisis, perceived or actual, go to waste:

      California Officials Appeal for Newsom to Appoint Asian Attorney General

      I’d prefer criteria such as this:

      Newsome Likely to Pick Anti-Death Penalty Attorney General

      1. Mr Magoo

        Thanks for posting those stats.

        And nice to see Newsome at least considering an anti-death penalty AG

    4. PlutoniumKun

      I follow a few Asian-Americans on twitter because of my interest in Asian politics, and over the past year or so I’ve seen a lot of claims of anti-Asian violence rising, although its not always been clear as to who is being violent (its often black or hispanics who are blamed), or who within the A-A community is being targeted (all Asians or just Chinese or someone else?). I don’t think the official figures are clear on this, but there have been enough anecdotes to think that in at least some parts of the US it is a real phenomenon.

      The problem is of course that the category of ‘Asian American’ is pretty vague and arguably shouldn’t really exist as its all so general and covers so many people with absolutely zero in common with each other except eye shape. These categories are so weird (a Vietnamese American woman I knew years ago joked at how when she lived in the UK people would get confused when she described herself as ‘Asian’. People would say ‘but you’re American! or ‘But you are Chinese!’. In the UK ‘Asian’ means Indian/Pakistani). She said she loved Ireland as it was the only country where everyone just treated her as an American, ‘cos of her accent.

      1. lordkoos

        Most Americans can’t tell the difference between Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese etc and Chinese so whatever racism there is gets spread around to the various groups.

        1. Procopius

          This is one reason I object so strongly to the term “Asian American.” The term is too undefined. Is it supposed to tell us what somebody looks like? Certainly a Tamil from South India does not look like a Lisu tribe member from Northern Thailand. Are the Ainu of Japan supposed to be included? How about people from Ceylon? Even within China there are five recognized language groups who are mutually unintelligible. I don’t know how many languages there are in the Philippines, but there’s a reason they all learn English. In Singapore it’s considered rude to speak “dialect,” meaning one of the Chinese languages, because the people around you won’t be able to understand. They learn to speak English, too, as do the people of India, who surely are Asian. People in Thailand with Khmer ancestry look quite different from Thais with a lot of Chinese ancestry. The term “Asian American” is just identity politics run berserk.

      2. Jeff W

        “…she loved Ireland as it was the only country where everyone just treated her as an American, ‘cos of her accent.”

        One of the things my Chinese-American nephew liked about Denmark, where nearly everyone speaks some English, was that, on a few occasions, salespeople, on first seeing him, spoke to him in Danish. He felt they weren’t “other-ing” him with some “foreigner” status at first glance (even though he is, in fact, non-Danish).

  9. Tom Doak

    The tweet about NFT’s [which I still don’t understand] makes it seem like a nifty setup to ensure that Nifty never goes under, because a few rich people will have an incentive to keep it alive so their artwork doesn’t disappear forever.

    1. The Rev Kev

      I don’t understand how so many wealthy people with lawyers coming out the kazoo cannot be bothered doing due diligence. What if there was a fire or something with the servers containing that info. Is it even backed up? Even the Romans from 2,000 years ago recognized the principle of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) but it looks like these people are not even familiar with the more modern one about not buying a pig in a poke. And there is a long history with the later saying-

      1. RMO

        I’m stunned to find out that what you get for your money is a link to something on someone else’s server when you buy an NFT. I probably shouldn’t be given how prevalent this “buy it but don’t own it – just own a promise of probably having access to it” has become.

        I don’t have the energy or the patience to go through the legalities of the provider’s obligation to the buyer right now. Anyone want to guess at the odds that they boil down to “we don’t owe you anything, ever”?

  10. Jeff N

    “Russian revolutionary Mikhail Bakunin” had my one of my favorite quotes, that Huey P Newton also used & attributed: “The first lesson a revolutionary must learn is that he is a doomed man. Unless he understands this, he does not grasp the essential meaning of his life.”

    1. s.n.

      The revolutionary is a doomed man. He has no private interests, no affairs, sentiments, ties, property nor even a name of his own. His entire being is devoured by one purpose, one thought, one passion – the revolution. Heart and soul, not merely by word but by deed, he has severed every link with the social order and with the entire civilized world; with the laws, good manners, conventions, and morality of that world. He is its merciless enemy and continues to inhabit it with only one purpose – to destroy it. –

      But iirc the state of the art scholarship holds that all this isn’t actually a quote of Bakunin’s
      and that “The Catechism” was authored exclusively by Sergei Nechaev, Bakunin’s protege who hustled the old fool out of everything he could steal….

  11. caucus99percenter

    The Myanmar junta may be thinking, “Heck, Modi in India shut down all communications in Kashmir and banned all journalists for weeks and months, and nobody in the West is even asking questions about human rights and other goings-on in Kashmir anymore. The West has a short attention span, we’ll just wait them out, like Modi. Or that murderous Saudi prince. Or Al-Sisi in Egypt, et cetera, whom the Western elites love and nobody challenges anymore either.”

    1. km

      The fundamental difference is that western governments didn’t give a [familyblog] about human rights in Kashmir or that Saudi prince who dismembers journalists. They still wanted to cozy up to India as a pillar of an anti-China alliance, and they love them some Gulfie tyrants.

      In other words, the West has a short attention span when it wants to. But let one “democracy activist” in Russia so much as stub his precious little toe whilst heaving a brick at a cop, and the tears will flow like the Nike during the annual flood season.

    2. Massinissa

      The American response to all of these things is essentially “PUTIN BAD!”. The MSM basically has a one track mind at this point.

  12. Mme Generalist

    From “Column: Why do so many Mexican Americans defend Speedy Gonzales?”:

    [W]okoso (a portmanteau of “woke” and a mocoso — a snot-nosed brat).”

    Hahahahahaha! I’m definitely adopting this. Lmao!

  13. Matthew G. Saroff

    Regarding the immigration “Surges”, am I the only one who notices that they always seem to occur at a time that is most politically convenient for those opposed to a more humane immigration systems?

    I’m willing to bet even money that the “surges” are organized by elements of the anti-immigrant right in order to forestall any meaningful change.

      1. tegnost

        Although maybe in the macro you have a point I’d forgotton, it was so long ago
        “Cáceres’ older sister – says that much of the violence in Honduras can be traced directly back to a sell-off of mining and hydroelectric concessions that followed the coup. “These concessions generated violence which eventually killed Berta. We’re still paying the consequences of the coup,” she said.”

        “Hydroelectric dam project backers appear to go beyond local companies and Honduran government officials. Global Witness points to international finance institutions such as the Central American Bank of Economic Integration, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the World Bank Group’s private sector arm, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), as all having played a role in the hydro sector in Honduras. Multilateral institutions have also supported other controversial projects linked to attacks and killings”.

        That pretty much checks eleventy boxes so I think you are spot on in this.

        1. Matthew G. Saroff

          It’s more than that. It seemed that every time that Trump talked about putting up a wall, the caravans would start up, which was breathlessly covered by the press.

          It also happens whenever there are proposals for change to the immigration system bubbling up.

          It does not seem to me that it is particularly likely that potential migrants in Central America are assiduously following reporting (probably on page A3) on this.

          It seems to me that with fewer than 5 people in the US, and less money than it takes to endow a chair at a university, you could have a network established to ensure that whenever immigration reform seems to be gaining steam, news of a new rush at the border takes the wind out of their sales.

          1. JP

            I don’t think that’s quite it. The streams of immigrants consist mostly of unaccompanied youth. We know for a fact that the Dems need a steady supply of children to defile and babies to eat. It seems very clear to me (under my special hat) this is the reason for the border surge. do I need to add (sarc)?

  14. Baby Gerald

    Re: Wagnerism

    Coincidentally, I happen to be re-reading the excellent Metapolitics by Peter Viereck. The subtitle, ‘From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler’ summarizes its subject matter succinctly and I would strongly recommend this to anyone even remotely interested in this topic.

    I find it staggering that in this entire lengthy article neither this book nor its author is mentioned at all. Alex Ross’s take seems to be nothing more than a second-hand rehash of Viereck, a book written and first published by Knopf in 1941 and appearing on shelves even before the Pearl Harbor attack and Germany declaring war on the US. It was reprinted again in 1961 with an update by the author, and this edition was reprinted again in paperback in 2004 by Transaction Publishers.

    All the same names from Ross’s book appear first in Viereck– d’Annunzio, Nietzsche, Bakunin, and Thomas Mann, who just happened to write a review of Metapolitics for Viereck at the time and which is even shortened to a back cover blurb of this 2004 reprint.

    This letter from Mann to Viereck is included in the foreword and offers the kind of endorsement writers like Ross could only dream of. Mann writes: ‘I have long esteemed this young author [Viereck wrote this as his PhD thesis] as an intellect with profound historical knowledge and keen psychological observation… The book as a whole,
    however, has still surpassed my expectations. I have read it with great interest and consider it an excellent contribution to the critique of the German Nationalism and Racism, and with it to the clarification of the spiritual backgrounds of this war.’

    In summary, if readers are interested in this subject there has already been a great book about it sitting on shelves for eight decades now. Whether Alex Ross or the Baffler writer are ignorant of this fact or deliberately obscuring it from readers I will leave to others to decide.

  15. PlutoniumKun

    The Libya Allergy Foreign Policy

    Libya has fallen out of headlines these days, but it does need to be repeated strongly that while it was no paradise under Ghaddafi, it is now a hell on earth, and this is the direct consequence of the mendacity and stupidity of Cameron, Hollande, and Obama/Clinton.

    That none of the three suffered any negative consequences for this wanton vandalism tells you everything you need to know about how the world works these days.

    1. RMO

      Ages ago commenting on Juan Cole’s site I was accused by a few other commenters of being a Ghaddafi shill, apologist or dupe for pointing this out. None of them responded when I pointed out that the information I was using to compare conditions pre and post “humanitarian intervention” came from the C.I.A. itself.

  16. PlutoniumKun

    4 Dutch election takeaways Politico

    This isn’t a good sign for those hoping that Covid will lead to better politics and economics. It seems to have been a major success for Rutte, who (at least initially) mishandled Covid, and has been a very strong pro-austerity voice in Europe. He is arguably the biggest obstacle to reform of the Euro.

    It seems the centrist, centre right, conservative right, and far right, have done fairly well in the elections (wow, the Dutch really like to have lots of right wing parties). The Greens and Socialists have done poorly. The only good news seems to be that the more liberalish/greenish wing of the current coalition has been strengthened relative to the Christian Democrat wing.

  17. flora

    re: How to Build a Better Homemade Face Mask, According to Science – Smithsonian.

    Great article. Thanks. I’m sending the link to all my friends who are quilters and mask makers! Wonderful microscope pictures of fabric fibers. Their discovery of which fabrics are better as masks and why makes sense, at least to me. I’m thinking about how relatively easy it is to walk through a corn field planted in neat rows that’s grown 8 feet high vs how difficult it is to walk through an overgrown, woody thicket with dense underbrush grown 8 feet high. (An imperfect analogy, to be sure.) Thanks for the link.

    1. Judith

      After a few hours of birdwatching, my masks are always sodden, which I had assumed was a bad thing. Nice to know it is actually helpful. And it should be easy to add a layer of cotton flannel to existing masks.

    2. lordkoos

      There is a small shoe company in Brooklyn making masks with copper fibers in them. They don’t get smelly which is very nice, & they can be washed many times.

    3. zagonostra

      One of the reasons why I haven’t been inclined to think of CV19 as a lethal pandemic is that people are allowed to make their own. I’ve seen many people with bandanas that double up as masks when they enter stores. If it were deadly it would be the height of irresponsibility on the part of the gov’t not to issue certified masks to all its denizens. The country did not shift into a war-time mode of mask production so I infer that CV19 is not a significant risk for the majority of healthy individuals.

      Which begs the question. Should the economy be shut down to protect those with immune compromised ailments?

      1. ambrit

        I think that you are giving the ruling elites too much credit for empathy and concern for the general good.
        Secondly, this coronavirus is mutating as we speak. It is not amenable to ‘magical thinking’ nor ‘appeals for divine intervention.’
        I gather from my reading of history that past examples of serious pathogen driven pandemics is that they generally ran in waves of intensity, and took multiple years to ‘run themselves out.’ We are just at the beginning of this Pandemic.
        Stay vigilant. Take nothing for granted.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Several decades of anti-governance ideological crusading, anti-government defunding, staffing the civil service parts of government with anti-governance moles, embeds and saboteurs has left us with a semi-skeleton set of Administrative Agencies, Bureaus, etc. which are no longer capable of doing what you noticed the government ” not doing”, plus active “do-nothing” embeds implanted into leadership positions. ( And it now looks like Fauci was one of those anti-action anti-science anti-truth embeds . . . . though his actions are perhaps explainable by imperious stupid pride).

        I think a better quality government would have performed better. The governments of New Zealand, Vietnam, and maybe a couple of other countries did what you note that our government did not do. One could just as well cite the actions of these few governments as evidence that the pandemic is lethal because a few governments did treat it that way.

        The ruling Bolsonarians in Brazil are treating the coronavid with cavalier frivolity. Should that be taken as evidence that coronavid is so non-lethal as to be worthy of Bolsonaro’s cavalier frivolity?

        You should probably try not to catch it. If you get it, chances are good that you will “recover”, but with all kinds of stealth legacy shadow damage at the micro-cellular level which will reveal itself some years in the future if/when you get some other disease attacking an organ or organ system.
        Micro-scarred lungs from coronavid will make an otherwise non-lethal pneumonia into a lethal one, for example.

  18. lobelia

    Re: Tesla reportedly had 450 cases of coronavirus at its California plant after reopening last May

    I’ve many times wondered whether that Fremont Tesla plant was not shut down, at least in part, due to the Fremont Police Department’s Tesla Pilot program. which I’ve yet to see noted regarding the Tesla coronavirus outbreak news (perhaps it’s noted in that twitter feed, but I’m unable to read twitter feeds since December). See:

    05/14/20 By Lora Kolodny Tesla factory inspected by Fremont Police as authorities give green light to gradual reopening

    and, re the pilot program, which began in March of 2019, see:

    11/19/20 Fremont Police Say Tesla Patrol Car Pilot Program A Success, Plans To Add To Energy Efficient Fleet

    Regarding cops in Tesla’s in general, see:

    12/03/20 By Kate Arnoff Welcome to the New Era of Cops Driving Teslas – Towns looking to green police departments, instead of defunding them, are turning to an interesting luxury brand; which also has this interesting last two paragraphs, emphasis mine:

    President-elect Joe Biden has surrounded himself with foreign policy advisers who have spent four years looking to build lucrative bridges between the national security state and Silicon Valley. The idea of a green national security state could gain traction in the near future—whether that’s solar-paneled Immigrations and Customs Enforcement detention facilities housing climate refugees or arms made in carbon-neutral factories and sold off to U.S. allies like Saudi Arabia. Complicated as it might seem, there are paths to decarbonizing the U.S. economy that could preserve many of its less savory facets, from gaping inequality to mass incarceration; from concentrated economic power to forever wars.

    All this could put progressives in a delicate position, if decarbonization moves along faster than a transformation in what the state does and whom it serves. Swapping green vehicles for gas-guzzlers is, theoretically, a win for everyone who lives on this planet. But greening branches of government so they can more efficiently widen the gap between the haves and have-nots certainly won’t spell victory for everyone on it. Climate change may not be inherently political. But climate policy will be.

    gotta run (Fremont’s not that far away from me)

  19. Michigan Farmer

    Wonder where my comment went.
    I have a copy but I can’t repost.
    Sigh again.

    1. tegnost

      some things to try are, see if you can go back a page and scroll to the bottom it can be there sometimes…this is in the case you got the white screen which as far as I know are the only truly “lost” comments…if you posted and then nothing happened, you remained on the page but maybe got no edit function or notice of moderation, then you just have to wait which can be a short time or a few hours. Always good to look at the bottom of the page to see if your text somehow wound up there in which case copy, erase repost to original location (this is for lost replies)

      1. Michigan Farmer

        Some gremlin in the system keeps snatching it.
        I’ve figured out what it is.

        So long Naked Capitalism.
        Never had any fun recently

        1. ambrit

          You give up too easily.
          Plus, why just goodbye to NC? Those same Gremlins, and many related Kobolds, Silkies, Aes Sidhe, etc. etc. live everywhere that comments go to be born and die on the internet.
          I’ve been around this fallen world of ours long enough to realize that the old adage really goes; “Adapt, and die.”

  20. Baldanders

    “New Fangled Tulips”

    Priceless! Put a virus that destroys the NFT on a certain date in the blockchain, and they can replicate the lost Tulip strains that had striking patterns due to the “breaking” virus.

  21. fresno dan

    So I just got an email from HICAP (Health Insurance Counselling and Advocacy Program) – the outfit I do volunteer work to help seniors with medicare, and as with all bureaucracies, they apparently lose track of who comes into their offices (I can’t believe it has been 4 years), mills about, logs onto their computer systems, and accesses confidential Medicare information for them, so I had to send in my identification number so they know who this guy (me!) is who shows up weekly. Now this is the ID number on my ID card that I wear in the office. Not to be confused with my medicare decoder number.
    They keep promising me that my super secret extra special medicare decoder number that is supposed to gain me entrance to the exclusive medicare call number ONLY for SHIP (state health insurance program) representatives (which HICAP volunteers are) will be fixed or re-issued, because in the 4 years I have been doing this it hasn’t once worked. Of course, it doesn’t seen like it is all that useful.
    Man, there is nothing that annoys me more than when I am suppose to have a VIP thingee, and I don’t get it, other than the free birthday sundaes your suppose to get on your birthday…

    1. Arizona Slim

      ‘Scuse my language, but, to me, this sounds like yet another example of the crapification of Medicare. Helping people get on Medicare — and use it — should not be this difficult.

      1. fresno dan

        Arizona Slim
        March 18, 2021 at 2:06 pm
        ‘Scuse my language, but, to me, this sounds like yet another example of the crapification of Medicare
        Absolutely true! Every improvement since 1965 has made it worse (well, that’s hyperbole, but you get my drift). When I took an economics class in college there were about a zillion reasons why health care is not amenable to the efficiencies of the free market. The example I use is this idea of all the rigamarole of shopping for a drug plan. EVERY health plan should have drug coverage AND it should cover all the drugs you could legitimately be proscribed, at the best price (this is health and a necessity – your not buying a TV). It is a simply ridiculous notion that you could anticipate what disease you will develop and you should be able to plan which drug plan to shop for.
        Never the less, I still want my special Medicare decoder number for special access.

        1. Arizona Slim

          When it comes time for me to go on Medicare, could you help? Or should I contact someone like you in the Tucson area?

          1. Jim Hannan

            When it comes time for you to go on Medicare, I suggest attending the monthly Medicare seminar put on by the Pima Council on Aging (PCOA).
            If you go with Medicare Advantage, there are good plans with United Health (AARP), Cigna and a couple of others. Look at your annual out of pocket costs, and a few other metrics. PCOA has all of this in one place.

        2. ambrit

          Fine as long as those who “access” you for assistance do not have to “kiss the ring.”
          Oh, wait. I’m confusing Medicare with a Racket. Right?
          Silly me.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Maybe it would be better if they sent you a secret decoder ring. At least that would be cool.

  22. Peter Dorman

    Calling Bakunin dumb is just weird. Bakunin was disorganized in the extreme and given to sweeping pronouncements, but he had a perceptive mind and in retrospect was important in developing the critique of bureaucracy. There’s a reason Marx essentially shut down the First International (moving its HQ to the US) rather than continue his debate with the guy.

    Bakunin’s critique of Marx, aside from the ethnic stereotyping, is prescient and powerful. (With Bakunin you always have to say “aside from”.) His foreshadowing of Scott’s Seeing Like a State (and similar observations from others like Paul Goodman) also gives him a place in intellectual history.

    His complete lack of intellectual self-discipline and self-scrutiny makes him a poor guide to anything, but his contemporaries across the political spectrum thought he had a powerful mind, and they were right.

    1. mlipow

      Bakunin wanted an ‘Educational Dictatorship’ in Russia, what we would call a real dictatorship, and not what Marx meant by ‘The Dictatorship of the Proletariat’ (see Hal Draper’s works). A secret cabal would rule behind the scenes until the mass of people accomodated themselves to their rule, i.e., forever. It was suspected at the time Marx moved the First International to the U.S. but couldn’t be proved until French scholar Michel Confino discovered Bakunin’s Testament, addressed to Nechayev, in the French National Archives in 1970.

      1. Peter Dorman

        Bakunin held a jumble of views, often contradictory, but I wouldn’t rely on Hal Draper to sort them out. I’ll admit I’m not up on the latest scholarship; aside from my own independent reading at the time, I studied the Marx-Bakunin dispute with Hans Gerth, who had previously written a book on the topic, in the early 70s. He discussed the motive for moving the International as if it were common knowledge.

  23. Olivier

    “Dozens of women widowed by the Afghan war have been given a lifeline by the army, stitching military uniforms indistinguishable from the ones their husbands died in” This brings to mind the song Where Have All The Flowers Gone, with uniforms instead of flowers.

    1. Sarkari Requirements

      Yes, you are right the Army Officer gave dozens of women who have widowed in the Afghan war a lifeline and sewed military uniforms differently than their husbands had died.

  24. JBird4049

    I have to ask why did the NYT print an article about student hunger in France? It is not good but there are plenty of such stories in the United States.

Comments are closed.