Links 3/20/2021

Dolphin intelligence and humanity’s cosmic future Aeon Essays (Anthony L)

Mice biting hospital patients, ravaging farms as plague escalates across NSW Sky News (Anthony L)

The US wood shortage can be traced to a decades-old beetle infestation in Canada Quartz (resilc)

Experience: Gwyneth Paltrow’s vagina candle erupted in my front room Guardian (Dr. Kevin). Um, people admit to having bought them? Even as a joke? Don’t they realize that rewards her?

Mission to clean up space debris around Earth is poised for launch NBC (furzy)

NASA and SpaceX sign agreement on spaceflight safety SpaceNews (Kevin W)

Ontario to (finally) pull the plug on fax machines in public service CBC (Dr. Kevin)

Jason Hickel introduces Degrowth – book review Monthly Review (Anthony L)

New study shows microplastics turn into ‘hubs’ for pathogens, antibiotic-resistant bacteria PhysOrg (Paul R)

Scared of school? Bolivian girl takes her virtual classes in a cemetery Reuters (resilc)

The Haunted Imagination of Alfred Hitchcock New Republic (Anthony L)


Finland was the world’s happiest country again last year despite Covid-19’s impact NBC (furzy)

Covid-19: West Bank hospitals inundated while Israel tosses surplus vaccines Middle East Eye (resilc)


AstraZeneca: German team discovers thrombosis trigger DW (David L)

Scandinavian countries keep AstraZeneca vaccine on hold Financial Times (Kevin W)

Injecting MEN with the female hormone progesterone could reduce the severity of their COVID-19, study claims Daily Mail. Hahaha. Only 40 patients, so preliminary, BUT 1. We pointed to work from UCSF many moons ago that idenitified progesterone as a potential Covid treatment/prophylactic; 2. We years ago highlighted a reader comment (scientist) many years ago on the heart health benefits for men of progesterone. But dunno why injections. Testosterone and progesterone are regularly administered by topical creams and pills.

Low-dose aspirin can reduce the risk of ICU admission and death of Covid-19, researchers say CNN (mark a)


Push to make Covid vaccines causes US drug shortages Financial Times


France and Poland impose new lockdown measures BBC


How the wave of telehealth SPACs during the pandemic could create a ‘perfect storm’ for investors STAT


Fireworks and fury set New Cold War tone in Alaska Asia Times (Kevin W)

The Sports Pages of Death Tom Engelhardt

China’s millennials, Generation Z leading nation away from Hollywood films, American culture, US brands South China Morning Post (resilc)

Chinese military bans Tesla cars in its complexes on camera concerns: Bloomberg Reuters

The Bayswater Grocer London Review of Books. On “Singapore: A Modern History.”


The great Brexit bodge job Chris Grey (guurst)

EU Sues U.K. Over Tax Breaks as Post-Brexit Skirmishes Mount Bloomberg

‘Pandora’s box’ of Northern Ireland could be opened unless EU changes Brexit deal, loyalists warn Reuters. Buyer’s regret is not a good look.

Old Blighty

The Tories are coming for the BBC Middle East Eye

New Cold War

Ahem, Trump was pilloried for coming to a similar view:


10-year civilian bloodbath follows NATO airstrikes in Libya Responsible Statecraft (resilc)

Report: Biden Considering Keeping Troops in Afghanistan Until November 2099 Antiwar (resilc). That’s further out that the USPS advance pension funding requirement! Is he gonna pay for that now too?

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Camera Google Arts & Culture. Resilc: “Great scam.” Moi: Can’t prove it , but highly confident this is at least in part to enable Google to have a good face shot for snooping purposes.

Imperial Collapse Watch

This Is the F-36 Kingsnake. It Could Be the Air Force’s Next Fighter Jet Popular Mechanics. Resilc: “Kingsnakes = nonvenomous.”

The US Navy’s shaky plan to save its shipyards is getting overhauled DefenseNews (Kevin W)

Trump Transition

Trump wax figure pulled from Texas display after visitors attacked it – reports Guardian (resilc)


A Brazen Act of Russian Interference: Air Force One Stair Was a Putin Asset Ghion Journal

The Purge of the Stoners Sardonicky (UserFriendly)

Deconstructed: Medicare for All Just Got a Massive Boost Intercept (resilc). Biden will still whip against it.

Vacuous Valor The Baffler (Anthony L). “Cawthorn’s unrepentant brand of stolen valor is the logical endpoint of a political culture that grossly overvalues military service.”


Report: FBI Now Probing Cuomo’s Corporate Immunity Law David Sirota (Kevin C)

Andrew Cuomo is not a victim of cancel culture Albany Times-Union (Tom D)

Our Famously Free Press

Unpresidented by Jon Sopel review: How not to be a foreign correspondent Times Literary Supplement (Anthony L)

Beware of Books! Persuasion (Anthony L)

Millionaires and Corporate Giants Escape IRS Audits Again in FY 2020 TracIRS

NFTs are a dangerous trap Seth’s Blog (UserFriendly)

CalPERS whittles CIO pool to 3 before calling off search Pensions & Investments (Kevin W). Smacks of what we reported before, that the search committee is hostile to white men.

Statement From CEO Marcie Frost CalPERS To Launch New Search For CIO Mondovisione

Covid-19 Supercharged the Advertising ‘Triopoly’ of Google, Facebook and Amazon Wall Street Journal (Paul R)

The government’s lawyers saw a Google monopoly coming. Their bosses refused to sue. Politico (Chuck L). From earlier in the week, still germane.

Former BlackRock sustainability executive says Wall Street green funds are ‘PR spin’ Independent

Oil Extends Losses After Massive Sell-Off OilPrice

E-bike suspected cause of huge Australia house fire BBC (resilc). In Darlinghurst, a Sydney suburb (“suburb” in Oz-speak is a residential neighborhood and so can be pretty urban).

Class Warfare

Amazon Union Solidarity Events in Every Major City Tom – 1,000 Union Contacts at Amazon Nationwide Mike Elk

Philadelphia’s Skid Row: Video shows city’s homeless crisis with dozens camped around trash bin fire Daily Mail (furzy)

The Original Karen The Drift (Anthony L)

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Members of a wild burro family pack.”

Posting a Richard Smith bonus, where a similar vid was on a site that got yanked entirely from YouTube!

And another bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. skippy

    “i know a snack when i hear one”

    Our 50 kg straight back black German Shepherd can tell the sound of me cutting steak from basically the front of the house on the 2nd floor from the back yard, over 20 meters away, walls, down the stairs, and outside.

    Anything in his path either moves or gets bowled over …

    1. timbers

      My Labrador has similar food hearing. I can never surprise him with a treat, because he hears at the other end of the house the respective kitchen cabinets/packaging being opened before I finish getting it.

      And he “thanks” me every time I fill his bowl with food (3 times a day) by jumping up or smashing into me profusely wagging his tail, I bend down and he gets lots of embraces, rubs, and pets. This goes on for a minute or so, he then moves towards his bowl of food. I realize I am reinforcing his behavior, but it’s a behavior I approve of, I guess.

      When I watch movies, he sits next to me on a love seat. Periodically, he gets down on the floor and looks at me. If I don’t respond, he lifts his paw into the air several times until I move to opposite side of the love seat, then he hops back up to join me on the other side. Rotating himself for comfort.

    2. The Rev Kev

      German Shepherds are some of the best dogs that you can have and they are smart. Unfortunately there is that problem of when they shed their coats. :(

      1. Betty

        From over-breeding, German Shepherds can also have terrible hip problems at a relatively young age.

        1. skippy

          This is why we got a straight back German and even so both our Malinois cross Kelpie are kept at about a level 5 leanness, plus they get a balanced raw food diet from a local Mfg.

          My mornings consist of our 20 kg Mainois female popping up on the bed so when I wake up she is the first thing my eyes see, then its tummy rubs and cuddles. The straight then walks* onto the bed and likes to put his massive paw on my chest, then yawn, so I can see his huge teeth, before giving me a few gentile licks and then his tummy rubs.

      2. Kurt Sperry

        I’ve got a “plush” or semi long-coated GSD—one of two in her litter of eight with a longer coat—and she isn’t much of a shedder besides the inevitable twice annual temporary coat blowouts.

    3. Pelham

      Our standard poodle has developed a similar hearing distinction. A couple of years ago, it was enough to crinkle anything and get her attention. That’s no longer possible. She can single out the sound of certain treat wrappers from anything else.

  2. zagonostra

    >The Chinese government by contrast is actively fostering war. – Matt Stoller

    I’ve heard Lee Fang and Matt Stoller interviewed on the Jimmy Dore show seprately and they seem to occupy two polar opposite views on China.

    A distinction I heard made by an former U.S. intelligent officer on a podcast is that between “kinetic” war and psychological/cultural/propaganda war, or non-kinetic “soft” war. With Stoller I think he interprets the economic expansion of China as inevitably morphing into military conflict. I don’t know if this is necessarily so. It does seem, historically that the two go hand in hand.

    When I listen to Fang, he suggest that China is simply pursuing their own “national interest” and has no intention or desire to engage the U.S. in military, or kinetic engagements. They are developing their own internal structures such as infrastructure, education, and social programs aim at a variety of goals including poverty reduction/elimination.

    I’m tending to come closer to Fang’s position than Stoller’s. But I’m not sure because I’m not an expert and I only have a tendential grasp of the details. It’s like a lot of topics that NC covers. You read thousands of stories through out the year, and you can only digest a fragment of the take. There is no way you can process it all.

    I don’t recall these two getting together to discuss China, but if they do. I hope somebody can post it.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      The problem is the creation of the fake islands to establish claims on the South China Sea. The US should have done something under Obama, like torn them down every night, but didn’t. That’s not a benign economic measure. It’s belligerent. Aggressive towards sea traffic, Japan, Taiwan.

      1. skippy

        I would only like to point out that the SCS is one of the biggest internet sea floor cable nodes on the planet and a strategic national asset to the Chinese. What logistics that happen through shipping in the SCS is nothing compared to the logistics that occur through these nodes E.g. contracts.

        1. The Rev Kev

          I can actually see the logic here of what the Chinese have done. Right now the strategic attention of the US, UK, France, Australia, Germany, etc. is firmly fixed on the South China Seas and the threat that those islands represent. If the Chinese had not built them, the strategic anti-China focus would be on some other region. Say, the Straits of Formosa and the Chinese coastline. Not good for Chinese strategic depth that so call this a strategic diversionary “tactic”.

        2. Rodeo Clownfish

          Isn’t there a lot of oil under the sea in that area as well? I thought the man-made islands are to establish China’s claim to the zone for drilling purposes.

          1. PlutoniumKun

            Most of the oil and gas in the South China Sea is well to the south of China, in the basins between the Malaya Peninsula and Borneo (the same geological deposits that arguably triggered WWII in the Pacific when the US denied Japanese access). More than half known recoverable reserves are in this region.

            But there are also significant reserves off northern Vietnam in what was traditionally considered Vietnamese waters, but is being seriously challenged by China. This is why Vietnam is investing heavily in Russian subs. There are also potential, but largely unknown deposits in deeper waters. The overall quantities are not particularly significant on a global level, but for the countries of the region (especially Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam), they are potentially very economically important.

            A key element of the importance to China of seizing the mini islands is not just military. By claiming control they extend their definition of ‘continental shelf’, which is a major component of agreements on who controls off-shore oil. This will allow China to pursue a share of oil that is much closer to the smaller countries of SE Asia than the Chinese mainland. Most of those countries are not in a military or economic position to argue against this.

            1. Synoia

              My observation is that major oilfields appear to exist in the sea where major rivers drain into the sea.

              Millions of years of animal carcasses washed out to the sea floor?

              I wonder about the Colombia, Yellow and Zambezi ricers and possible major oilfields.

              1. ambrit

                Sorry. Wrong time scales. (My apologies for being the dog in the manger today.)
                The rivers we see today are young by geological standards. Oil fields are old. As in tens to hundreds of millions of years old.
                Now, harnessing the flows of those rivers. That’s an untapped source of energy, all eventually supplied by gravity. Such as at Vidalia in Louisiana.
                See (Something a little technical, but useful.):
                Then there is this bit of counter intuitive messaging. Hydropower as a worse global warming issue ‘over the short term.’
                The above is from the Environmental Defense Fund. The author, a woman, is the Barbara Streisand Chair of Environmental Studies. Her thumbnail bio has a lot of “wokeness” in it. “Oh tempora, oh mores!”

                  1. ambrit

                    PlutoniumKun explains it below much better than I could.
                    One aspect of the river mouth oilfield equation is probably the ease with which heavy extraction processes can be managed with water borne transport.

              2. PlutoniumKun

                Oilfields occur where there are extensive areas of sedimentary rocks with kerogen (essentially, organic dirt) which have been at some stage of their lives dipped under 2,000 metres, in order to ‘cook’ the organic material to create long chain hydrocarbons. Below 5,000 metres, the cooking reverses and they crack into methane. So the grade of oil/gas depends on the depth of the cooking.

                The second criteria is that there must be an impermeable overlay as oil and gas are less dense than water and will rise and dissipate. Thirdly, you need something to create voids for the oil and gas to concentrate under the capping.

                So essentially, if searching for oil and gas you are looking for sedimentary rocks old enough to have been pushed down to great depth at some stage of their geological history, and then covered over with clay or salt or something similar to act as a cover – and if there are multiple fractures in the rock, all the better. There are exceptions, but those are the key criteria. You rarely get oil in very old inner continental masses as these rocks are too old and stable to have the correct criteria (e.g. central Africa or northern Central Asia). Likewise, you don’t get much anywhere thats too geologically ‘new’ such as India. The Middle East has so much oil because it was several times part of what was known as the Tethys Sea, a particularly organic and sediment rich sea (as it was partially enclosed within Gondwanaland). The Tethys Sea also evaporated multiple times, each time leaving a nice layer of salt to pin down the hydrocarbons.

                Most Atlantic deposits were created as the continents pulled apart, leaving seas which regularly dried out before becoming permanent – leading to multiple layers of muddy deposits and salt layers. The Brazilian and Nigerian oil fields are essentially the same geological feature, just pulled apart by several thousand miles.

                So most of the worlds big oil/gas deposits either are, or were, shallow continental shelves or inland seas at a period where there was lots of organic matter floating about.

          1. skippy

            The Hong Kong – Macao node is the one I was specifically talking about, Taiwan is a special geopol case – one has to consider.

            My main point was the VoM $$$$ that flows through this network vs shipping and how that might influence strategic planing. The undersea land slide a few years back caused a huge panic and billions were lost in just hours – that would focus ones mind imo E.g. the physical transportation of Mfg goods is just a representation – of – thingy, at onset, and then again the satisfying of contracts which then effects financial exchanges post contract – rinse and repeat …

            Sorta like power going out in a big box store, trade goes to zero in the blink of an eye, no redundancy. Which makes me ponder the same dynamic with the silk road being a two’fer back up, as it would have brand new IT infrastructure backbone along its route – its a hardened symbiotic relationship these days.

            As such I think its a bit simplistic to say China built the islands in some old notion of a land grab for natural resources, fortresses to dominate shipping lanes, from an imperialistic notion, with views on expansion considering the massive changes in trade architecture between present and past.

          2. ObjectiveFunction

            Very interesting, pull-no-punches piece on Singapore, highly recommended for anyone interested in this region.

            I know it’s only a review and I haven’t read the book itself (which may never be published here), but one key component in Singapore’s ‘miracle’ development that isn’t alluded to is the island’s pivotal position in the global petroleum supply chain of the postwar era.

            Decolonization notwithstanding, the Western oil majors (and the Western alliance in general) deemed it essential that core refining capabilities should remain firmly outside the control of newly independent Asian petro-states. Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei still provided East Asia with most of its hydrocarbons from 1945 through the 1980s and much of that was refined in the large complexes around Jurong. The refineries also provided a bedrock revenue (and infra support) base for the government to buy popular consent with grand social engineering projects like HDB without becoming a Western aid junkie or requiring high taxation of private capital, local or foreign.

            Short form: Singapore was never, ever going to be permitted to have a non-Western aligned or truly socialistic government.

            The moment the bumi sultans in Malaysia (who had obligingly crushed the mainly Chinese communist PKM) showed their intention to run things for themselves, and to squeeze every last dollar they could in korupsi out of the resource sectors, Singapore (and Brunei) were headed for the exits.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Another major Obama error (one almost entirely ignored in the western media) was that he hung the South Koreans out to dry in 2016 when the Chinese took very aggressive economic measures against ROK over the deployment of THAAD. The South Koreans were doing the US a favour over the deployment – it was very unpopular domestically – but they were left isolated by the US which did absolutely nothing to help.

        South Koreans (or at least, those that matter) remember this well as a betrayal, which is why they are now playing very cool with Biden over anything to do with China. Its also probably why the ROK decided to spend a lot of money on new weaponry (especially long range submarines with ballistic missile capacity), which are clearly aimed at creating an independent deterrent to China. For all the ‘pivot to Asia’ nonsense Obama liked to spout, his actions persuaded the ROK and Japan that they are potentially on their own when it comes to China, the US has proven itself an unreliable partner.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          I don’t think Obama saw imperial maintenence a part of his job. “American Exceptionalism” is just part of his bedrock faith along with an end of history undercurrent. He was concerned with Chinese corporate inroads into Africa, Eastern Europe, and the Americas. Southeast Asian countries already compete with American corporations, so I see him seeing these countries as uppity vassals.

          When he called Russia a regional power, he meant it as an insult, but he was referring to regions in Russia’s pre-telegraph sphere. I’m not sure he can comprehend a world without unquestioned US hegemony.

      3. divadab

        Yes! China asserted control over rocks and islets in flagrant violation of a ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea that China’s claims were invalid. The Obama administration let it happen without taking action. At the time, I thought that this was a very weak showing by the USA – if you do not protect the territories of vassal States (Philippines, Japan, S. Korea, Taiwan, and (not exactly a vassal but a party on the same side of the issue) Vietnam), then they will not remain vassal States of the Empire for long.

        I mean, the (mostly unacknowledged) US Empire is massive and unsustainable in the long run, like all empires. But the chaos which attends the collapse of an empire is horrific – just ask the Byzantine Greeks of Asia Minor – how many of them are left?

        1. Ozz

          Simply put American arrogance will be the leading cause of any outbreak of hostilities with China. Crusing up and down the coast of a country and threatening them is not the best idea. Any military planner knows a war with Taiwan will be deadly and only have one victor, after all the island is only so big. Great place to sell weapons though. If the chinese cruised the coast of America and flew nuclear cabable bombers and spy planes right along the border what would you think? Would you support their international right to do so? Maybe peace is a more optimal solution. Focus on what we can agree on, commerce and trade could be improved but American companies greedy focus over cheap labor is prohibitive to that discussion.

          1. The Rev Kev

            Pretty funny that the US is trying to enforce the International Law of the Sea Treaty here when they have never signed it themselves, mainly because it would apply to them if they did.

        2. jrkrideau

          Yes! China asserted control over rocks and islets in flagrant violation of a ruling by the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea that China’s claims were invalid. The Obama administration let it happen without taking action.

          you mean the tribunal formed under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea to which the USA is not a signatory?

      4. upstater

        The USA has a “nine dash line” that runs from Labrador to Florida, down to Cape Horn then up to Alaska. The Monroe Doctrine .

        China’s Is rather different …

      5. nn

        Obviously they are not completely benign, but if grabbing few tiny islands in their backyard is “actively fostering war”, then what exactly is doing West all around the world? I’m not even sure that if I were chairman NN, I would not do the same just to preempt any future attempt of US to take these islands for themselves and then harass China’s merchant ships for not following some sanction regime against Iranian/Venezuelan/Cuban terrorists or whatever excuse they invent.

        Nobody knows where this ends in ten or twenty years, all this just amounts to extrapolation of own prejudices.

        1. freebird

          Seriously. How many dozens of bases does the USA maintain in countries and seas where it has no business being?

          1. Baby Gerald

            Great question, freebird. Here’s a screenshot from a map featured in John Pilger’s documentary film The Coming War on China. A quick count will arrive at somewhere near twenty bases west of Hawaii and north of New Zealand. Other maps that result from the search ‘US Bases Around China Map’ like this one from the Institute For Policy Studies reveal eight. As for sizes and numbers of troops at each one, the data is foggy but probably out there if we dig deep enough.

            Thus, one may go so far as to surmise that if the US had eight to twenty bases of any nation–even a friendly– sitting all along the pacific coast, it might start building fake islands to exert its influence, too.

          2. JTMcPhee

            You used the word “business.” That’s what the Empire is “doing” in all those faraway places with strange-sounding names. Imposing Coca-Colonialism under a bunch of other brands. Making “banana republics” to facilitate looting. And how about selling weapons (or gifting them, as to Saudi Arabia and Israel and several other places) to keep the natives restless?

            Pretty obvious that, from a military standpoint, with the possible exception of being able to loose the furies of global thermonuclear war, the US Imperial military is incapable of “winning” in all the conflicts the spooks and jackals and idiot generals and asshats in the “Policy Establishment” begin or catalyze. And now the dementia prince says “we” will be “staying” in Notagainistan until 2099…

            No way this ends, other than in endless tears for the mopery who do the bleeding…

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          You aren’t up to speed. These weren’t islands. They were rocks that were submerged part of the time. They are artificial islands, built upon those rocks.

      6. Randy

        I’m extremely interested in how Obama was supposed to atomize some islands out if existence against a nuclear-armed great power. Just hope China doesn’t turn the west coast glowing green?

          1. The Rev Kev

            Which has proved a great addition to nighttime aviation navigation in Japan. Just look for the glowing region at night to find out where you are.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          See comment above. Get informed before you shoot from the hip. These are artificial islands, built on Obama’s watch. You tear down what was just built, daily if necessary. But the time for that has long passed.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Wowsers, Making Shit Up and straw manning too? One, this was not about US borders but international sea lanes. Twod, this wouldn’t have even remotely led to war if we’d done something at the time. The less China had invested in this gambit, the less the pushback The Chinese would have made very pissy public statements and at most would buzzed US airbases or sent their vessels provocatively close to our ships, the sort of thing we do all the time to Russia to show we’re annoyed.

          1. kgw

            I suspect you are misjudging the Chinese government, Yves. Re international sea lanes, the US government does not show much interest in protecting the rights of Iran, Venezuela, Palestine, etc. Very much a “do as I say,” “not as I do.”

            ” The US should have done something under Obama, like torn them down every night, but didn’t. “

      7. Polar Socialist

        Technically Vietnam and Philippines started the island building decades ago to secure their claims of the Spratly islands. One could assert that China was responding mainly to these two countries to keep it’s own claim of the islands valid.

        Taiwanese media even claimed that Obama’s visit in the area 2014 was behind the flare-up in hostilities (both Vietnam and Philippines attacked Chinese oil rigs and fishermen in the area), which led China to begin fortifying the area.

      8. Pelham

        Ah, this gets to my key question, which will reveal my complete ignorance on the subject of global strategies. Why should the US necessarily fear China’s dominance in the South China Sea?

        If China were to cut off trade routes in the region, wouldn’t China be shooting itself in the foot? Does some variant of domino theory still apply, with the prospect of China conquering or putting the screws to Indochina or the Philippines? Again, what is the specific interest of the US in this area?

        1. Rodeo Clownfish

          China drilling all that oil would mean they no longer need to support the petrodollar system, for one thing.

      9. neo-realist

        I suspect such an invasive approach of physically dismantling the islands would have provoked a military response from the Chinese, particularly with what seems to be a much more militaristic Xi administration.

        Trump’s former secretary of state Tillerson recommended blockading the south china islands and I recall one of the CCP newpapers saying something to the effect that if we engaged in such a move that we would have to bulk up on our nuclear strategies.

      10. boydownthelane

        On the other hand, a couple of repeated tsunamis (remember when SecDef Cohen said that the technology existed?…] should take care of a couple of man-made islands.

      11. Fabian

        Alternatively it’s defensive as it is the key sealane for essential imports. Obama should have torn them down,.seriously? How exactly?

      12. occasional anonymous

        Who cares? It’s none of our business, and I seriously doubt (as in don’t believe for a minute), that China, the worlds factory, has any interesting in not shipping stuff to Japan, etc.

      13. Greg

        Agree. Control of SCS is purely an aggressive stance not for economic gain (in traditional sense). In the event of war, provides China with huge strategic advantages. Not only shuts down all economic flows through SCS (and ability to extort/apply political pressure in peace time) but also provides fog of war for Chinese submarine fleet as they try to enter Pacific & Indian Oceans undetected (lessons from WW2 Germany). A massive fail by the Obama administration.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The problem with people like Lee Fang is that like a lot of western leftists, he sees it from the perspective of being a very far distance from China. If you are a neighbour of China, with a history of suffering hostile acts (such as the invasion of Vietnam in 1979 or the constant acts of aggression on the borders of India and Bhutan), you would see it very differently. Chinese policy towards Asian neighbours right now would look very familiar to an 18th Century English adventurer in India or Singapore.

      But it is true to say that Chinese aggression is very different from traditional western imperialism. They’ve never had much interest in long distance power projection or colonies. Its all about incremental increases in territory from the core of China. As someone once put it, if anyone says China is not an expansionary power, just ask them to look at where the Great Wall of China is, and compare it to modern boundaries (hint: The Great Wall runs right through the heart of the modern country).

      The problem with justifying countries pursuing ‘national interest’ is that this can cover a whole range of evils. Of course every country has a right to secure its borders and seas. But countries don’t have a right to do this by pushing their border outwards at every opportunity under the guise of ‘security’ or ‘national interest’.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        it’s your last paragraph that contains the meat of the nut.
        I’m nowhere near china, am only familiar with it’s history and culture from low earth orbit, and will likely never even attempt the languages.
        but them building islands in the South CHINA Sea sure doesn’t feel like any of my business.
        it certainly isn’t “aggression” towards me or my interests…unless they’re gonna cut off the supply lines, or something….but that would only happen if my (sic) government poked them hard enough(trade is a weapon), which i am completely against in the first place.
        (might also be an incentive for the bosses to move some production back thisaway)
        so I’m definitely in Lee Fang’s camp…which rhymes with Stephen Cohen’s view of Russia since the end of the USSR.
        while our media yells about their imperialist intentions, around an hundred years of our own imperial overreach—where the usa empire actively tried to dominate the world— is blithely forgotten.
        China’s main crime is that it failed to remain a peasant kingdom where the bosses could send the Plant that used to make this country prosperous.
        bosses were stupid, then…driven by their greed and hatred of americans…and they’re stupid, now…expecting us to support war over the consequences of their initial stupidity.

      2. David

        The problem is that, as history shows, wars very seldom start through rational calculation. It’s not that the Chinese are deliberately trying to start anything, but rather that their behaviour runs the risk of sparking a crisis at some point, which may then get out of control. The Chinese system suffers, curiously, from some of the same problems as the American system: it’s so large, with so many players, that there really isn’t time to take into account what others may think, still less to give that its proper weight in decision-making. Historically, the Chinese have not been good at interacting with, or necessarily even understanding, their neighbours.

          1. David

            Analytically, perhaps yes. But it’s little comfort, if crises and even conflicts develop on the basis of actions which you believe to be right and justified, but others don’t. It doesn’t matter what political system you have, it doesn’t matter how justified or not historians later consider you to have been, it doesn’t matter whether, in some Platonic sense you can be judged to be Right. What matters are consequences, as I think history sufficiently demonstrates.

            1. JTMcPhee

              So who will launch the first nuke? Well, the third, actually…

              So the advice is for all of us to just accept that the Empire is a prickly bully with vastly expansive if inchoate and covert goals and plans, and that every other nation full of people has to tiptoe around the Imperial Bully Thug for fear of triggering some Massive Retaliation ™ that is in truth an overt act of aggression. Because some Evil Geniuses of the Neocon variety have set the weaponry on hair trigger…

              Not like this has not already come close before…

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, its so common to assume that China (or any other country) is a monolith. We never hear much about it for obvious reasons, but no doubt there is plenty of internal friction between the military and civilian sides of the CCP, not to mention the constant friction between the coastal provinces and inland ones. A long term suspicion by most Chinese politicians of the power of Shanghai is another dynamic that often has all sorts of unintended results.

          As you say, you see some very odd comments coming from Chinese senior politicians or commentators that can only lead you to the conclusion that they are just as clueless as many Washington ‘foreign policy experts’, and possibly even worse given the generally low priority given to language skills among Chinese elites. I’m reminded of histories of 1920’s and 30’s Japan where even US educated senior Japanese diplomats often had what turned out to be quite catastrophically bad readings of internal US policies. Arguably, they would never have hit Pearl Harbour had they understood the political distinction between hitting somewhere like Manila and an ‘official’ US State.

          Anyway, as you say, if a war does break out in that region, its far more likely to be the result of a miscalculation based on someone making a sensible decision from a domestic point of view, which turns out to have unintended outcomes somewhere else. Its anyones guess as to where the bad decision will be made, as there seems to be an open competition in the region to make horrible calls. At the moment, the US is the leader, but the Chinese and Japanese in particular seem keen to take the gold medal.

          1. Carla

            Shorter: seems to me that in David’s original comment, we could just substitute American for Chinese and vice versa — and the same factors would apply.

          2. FluffytheObeseCat

            PK, the Hawaiian islands were a U.S. territory in 1941. Hawaii became a U.S. state in 1959. However, it was U.S. soil when Pearl Harbor was bombed; Manila was not.

            1. caucus99percenter

              Mahalo! I’m always floored when I see even the sharpest, most well-educated people get basic facts re the history of Hawai‘i wrong — and not just a little wrong, but all wrong.

          3. Bruno

            “Arguably, they would never have hit Pearl Harbour had they understood the political distinction between hitting somewhere like Manila and an ‘official’ US [State sic] Colony.”
            But of course they did recognize the “political” impact, which was why Yamamoto argued so forcefully against the first strike. The question is why were his arguments rejected. Perhaps the Japanese leadership all agreed that as they were slowly being strangled by the Embargo the US would strike first at a time–soon–of its own choosing. In which case their only chance lay in preemptively destroying the US Pacific Fleet while the East-Asia forces were still under incompetent control by that idiotic egomaniac MacArthur. When Yamamoto realized that he had fallen into Stimson’s trap because the key US assets (aircraft carriers and submarines), were already at sea leaving obsolecent warships tied up at the dock to serve as tiger-tempting goats, he immediately called off his planned second wave and pulled his flotilla out to protect it.

            1. ObjectiveFunction

              That whole ‘third wave forces the Fleet back to San Diego for a year’ idea, while popularized by Daniel Yergin in ‘The Prize’ has been deeply analyzed by people who understand such things (not me, I just read it), and entirely (lol) exploded….

              Key points:

              1. A third wave of strikes would have flown into the teeth of a by now fully alert and hopping mad US antiaircraft defense network, and at least doubled the losses of Japanese strike aircraft and its *very* finite corps of elite pilots, while only marginally increasing the damage to Pearl installations and ships.

              2. As it was, in the second wave air commander Genda had already relegated his heavier ‘Sally’ bombers to high level (and far less accurate) high level horizontal bombings, understanding how essential they would be as torpedo bombers should the US carriers reappear.

              3. Navy bunker fuel, unlike aviation spirit, doesn’t all blow up obligingly in a big ‘whoomph’ the moment you drop a bomb in it. You might destroy a couple of tanks but eliminating the entire fuel reserve of the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl takes a Ploesti (177 Liberator heavy bombers) level of bombardment, not a few Aichi dive bombers.

              So no, Nagumo was conservative as an admiral, but had very sound reasons for ending the strikes when he did.

              As to grand strategy what-ifs (e.g. hit the Philippines instead), as one commentator put it, Japan going to war under any circumstances at all with the US and the European empires simultaneously, within 5 years of invading the world’s most populous country (China) and clashing with (and getting 100% stomped by!) the Soviet Red Army is one of the all time ‘Hold my Beer’ moments in strategic history! There was just no way that was going to end in anything less than the total write off of the entire Japanese empire, economy and fleet… the best they could have possibly hoped for was not to be occupied. It was stupid on rocket boots.

          4. ex-PFC Chuck

            “Arguably, they would never have hit Pearl Harbour had they understood the political distinction between hitting somewhere like Manila and an ‘official’ US State.

            The “must read” on this is Day Of Deceit: The Truth About FDR and Pearl Harbor by Robert B. Stinnett. He makes a strong case that the USA did indeed lure the Japanese into the attack. Below are the notes I made and quotes I copied while reading the book several years ago:

            In October of 1940 Lieutenant Commander Arthur McCollum, the Head of the Far East desk of the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI), wrote a memo to the ONI Director that summarized the world situation, identified dangers to the United States of passively reacting to events initiated by adversaries, and proposed an eight action plan intended to entice Japan into attacking United States’ military and/or possessions. The memo reached President Roosevelt who, after consulting with McCollum and other officers, implemented the plan.)
            “McCollum had a unique background for formulating American tatics and strategy against Japan. Born to Baptist missionary parents in Nagasaki in 1898, McCollum spent his youth in various Japanese cities. He understood the Japanese culture, and spoke the language before learning English. After the death of his father in Japan, the McCollum family returned to Alabama. At eighteen McCollum was appointed to the Naval Academy. After graduation the twenty-two year old ensign was posted to the US Embassy in Tokyo as a naval attaché and took a refresher course in Japanese there. . .
            In 1923, as the fads of the Roaring Twenties swept the world, members of the Japanese Imperial household were anxious to learn the Charleston. McCollum knew the latest dance routines, so the embassy assigned him to instruct Crown Prince Hirohito, the future Emperor, in slapping his knees to those jazz-age rhythms. Later that year, McCollum helped coordinate the US Navy relief operations following the Great Tokyo earthquake. Though the American assistance was well intentioned, McCollum learned that the proud, self-sufficient Japanese resented the ijin (foreign) relief operations. Nearly twenty years later, McCollum took it upon himself to multiply this resentment a hundredfold by pushing for American interference in Japan’s brutal policies of domination in the Pacific.” p 6-7
            Few people in America’s government or military knew as much about Japan’s activities and intentions as . . McCollum. He felt that war with Japan was inevitable and that the United States should provoke it at a time which suited US interests. In his October 1940 memorandum McCollum advocated eight actions that he predicted would lead to a Japanese attack on the United States:
            A) Make an arrangement with Britain for the use of British bases in the Pacific, particularly Singapore.
            B) Make an arrangement with Holland for the use of base facilities and acquisittion of supplies in the Dutch East Indies [now Indonesia].
            C) Give all possible aid to the Chinese government of Chiang Kai-shek.
            D) Send a division of long-range heavy cruisers to the Orient, Philippines, or Singapore.
            E) Send two divisions of submarines to the Orient.
            F) Keep the main strength of the US Fleet, now in the Pacific, in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands.
            G) Insist that the Dutch refuse to grant Japanese demands for undue economic concessions, particularly oil.
            H) Completely embargo all trade with Japan, in collaboration with a similar embargo imposed by the British Empire.” P 8

            A photo copy of the memo, which the author found in an obscure Navy archive somewhere on the west coast, is in the appendices of the book

            1. Dirk77

              In his book Secrets, Ellsberg quotes Nixon as hinting that FDR was deliberating antagonizing the Japanese to attack us. Which makes sense: the US then had plenty of manufacturing capacity to make up easily for any losses at Pearl Harbor or elsewhere. Fast forward to today…

          5. jrkrideau

            …you see some very odd comments coming from Chinese senior politicians or commentators that can only lead you to the conclusion that they are just as clueless as many Washington ‘foreign policy experts’

            No idea about the commentators but if you look at the career path of almost all Chinese senior politicians there is a set career path starting in a minor admin position, maybe at village level, and working up to, perhaps mayor of a small city then a larger city or a provincial post. Then governor of a province or two and on to the big time in Beijing. It is about as set as the Roman cursus honorum. Xi Jinping’s career is pretty typical.

            This type of career is not likely to build up much knowledge or even interest in foreign affairs. Same for languages—if anything local dialects or minority languages probably would be much more valuable than English or Japanese.

            The only thing we can hope is that their foreign affairs advisors have a better grasp of the world than the US ones do.

      3. SOMK

        If you are a neighbour of China, with a history of suffering hostile acts (such as the invasion of Vietnam in 1979 or the constant acts of aggression on the borders of India and Bhutan), you would see it very differently.

        I suspect the people of Cuba, Greneda, Mexico, Nicaragua, Chile, Venezuela, Bolivia etc. would happily swap China for America.

        America unlike China is arguably one of the most secure countries on the planet, a super power & resource independent (with the possible exception of oil), geographically very secure with costal access to two oceans and yet still feel compelled to interfere when a neighbouring power dares to elect anyone to the left of Ghengis Kahn.

        China on the other hand are geographically quite insecure, their shipping lanes would be relatively easy to blockade by a superior naval force, they aren’t resource independent, and they spend most of their defence budget on internal security as opposed to external security. They do not appear to be remotely as beholden to their military industrial complex as the Americans are.

        Which isn’t to say China is the good guy or anything remotely approaching that, but the war footing on the part of the US seems to be a cross-party policy, as was discussed on a December episode of Radio War Nerd.

        As for the expansion beyond the borders of the Great Wall of China was it not under the Yuang dynasty that expansion happened under, ie. the dynasty founded by the Mongols whom the wall was built to keep out?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          The very first line in my post states that too many leftists look at the problem from a seat in the US, and not the perspective of a Chinese neighbour, and your entire post just proved it. Saying that Cuba, Mexico, etc., would swap China for America is probably true. But the same is almost certainly true in reverse for many Asian countries. Its also irrelevant. No small country likes its large, aggressive neighbour, as an Irishman I know that all too well.

          1. pjay

            This thread started with Stoller’s comment about China “actively fostering war.” From the Chinese perspective, I’d say the last thing they want is war. From the perspective of China’s neighbors, I’m absolutely certain that the last thing they want is war with the regional superpower (and their largest trading partner). From what I’ve read, all *regional* parties, however irritated they might be, want to maintain the language of a dispute over territorial boundaries and rights, precisely to *avoid* the language of war (and possibly retain some hope of diplomatic dispute settlement).

            So where does the *warmongering* language come from? From the US, who rings China with military installations.

            When Stoller admits that yeah, we (the US) “do the same thing,” that is in no way accurate in regard to this issue (again I refer to the map posted by Rev Kev above). And with the exception of some hardliners in Taiwan and a few other places, I’m willing to bet that the perspective of China’s neighbors is: turn down the war rhetoric, please.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              But see David above. What “China” wants and what some actors with enough influence either by accident or design to warmonger successfully are two different matters…just like the US.

              Stoller’s wife is Taiwanese and I think you are underestimating China’s belligerence with respect to Taiwan. Might have behooved Stoller to stressed that point.

          2. Darthbobber

            But our seat is in fact in the United States. And the United States is in no position to address the insecurities of all of China’s neighbors. I suspect that our bellicose posture in the region actually helps to provoke the threats we then offer to help contain.

          3. SOMK

            I’m not sure how my entire post proves your first line, your example of the Great Wall of China being in the centre of China, belies the fact that it was people it was built to keep out who took over and expanded China to approximately its current borders so I don’t think that’s entirely fair example to argue the supposition that China’s territorial ambitions are ravenous, arguably every country has expansionary tendencies, that’s how they became countries in the first place, the only difference between large and smaller nations is their capacity to do so and get away with it.

            From what I can tell (and I won’t pretend to be anything but significantly more ignorant on matters China than yourself), it’s the US that is fostering war with China, not visa versa, given that Chinese GDP will outpace the US by the decades end it strikes me as borderline insane they would risk scuppering that with war (one thing a one party state means is that you can plan ahead with no fear of election cycles disrupting your attention or interrupting your rule, so you are less likely to get the kind of dynamics of worrying about looking ‘weak’ on country X compared to your rival), I wish I could remember where to find this talk I watched a few years ago given by a guy to a rightwing think tank where he talked about the geopolitics of Trump and the shift of America retreating from it’s role as “global policeman”, but one thing he mentioned was China’s relative vulnerability via trade routes causing their “need” for fake islands as strategic bases, it seems reasonable to make moves in that direction (which isn’t to say it is right), also níl mise Meiriceánach a mhic and there are plenty of Irishmen and women who have grá for the Sassanach, as one can tell from asking the average Irish person which football team they follow or from reading an Irish Times editorial on re-unification and I’m sure we’d make a bolder claim on Rockall if we could back it up, but I am glad we don’t and proud of our tiny military budget.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              My point is that discussing China’s policy is pointless if everyone keeps saying ‘yes, but the US…. etc., etc’. Nobody will understand what is happening in that part of the world if you keep looking at it from a US geographical perspective, whether you are in the US or somewhere else. Believe it or not, people in China or Japan or Bhutan or Kyrgystan don’t spend their days thinking about US policy towards Asia. They do, however, spend some time thinking of what their neighbours, and often historic enemies, are up to.

              As to who is fostering war with whom, as David points out above, wars rarely start because someone is fostering wars, they usually come about through misunderstandings and misjudgements. All the major players in Asia are testing the extent of their boundaries, the US and China included. Neither wants a hot war with the other (even as far back as the 1940’s US military planners concluded that China was just too vast and populous even to consider ground engagements there, even with the KMT as an ally). But that doesn’t mean that they aren’t pursuing dangerous policies that could lead to one. Both would love to give a bloody nose to the other, but these things have a habit of running out of control.

              The Chinese seizure and construction of islands has nothing to do with long distance ship supply lanes, the Chinese have long ago accepted that only a blue water navy can do that, and they are still decades away from one that could challenge the US. Chinese policy objectives are quite clear, they haven’t hidden them – they see the SCS as their doorstep (a little like the US views the Caribbean), one with rich mineral, oil, and fish reserves, and are determined to make sure that those countries with historic claims, such as Vietnam, the Philippines, and Malaysia, are shut out. They are using their military strength, not the accepted international tribunals to achieve their aim. They also see it as an important element in creating strategic depth – essentially as a means of keeping any US naval strike at an arms length. The strategic thinking about those islands would be remarkably familiar to anyone who’s done even very superficial reading on the last Pacific War.

        2. caucus99percenter

          And if one would compare China to India? India does have a record of grabbing things it feels entitled to, by force, unilaterally. Perhaps Goa and Sikkim ring a bell? How are those universal human rights and values holding up in Kashmir? Have any of the Very Serious People bothered to check recently?

          It’s all so selective, this scrutiny. The West condemns its designated villains of the moment while continuing to give Morocco a pass on occupying Western Sahara, or Turkey a pass on occupying northern Cyprus (territorially, part of an EU member!) and even, de facto, bits and pieces of Syria and Iraq.

      4. Darthbobber

        Well, if you look at the part of this continent occupied by the 13 colonies at the time of the American Revolution and follow our trajectory over the years following, you get a more aggressively expansionist picture than that, don’t you? And over a much shorter period of time?

        The invasion of Vietnam in 1979. Gosh, were the Chinese the only people to invade Vietnam in its modern history? I seem to remember others. And did the China/Vietnam border move as a result of that invasion?

        Border disputes between India and China I’d also demur as to whether the responsibility is as entirely on the Chinese side as Indian and American propaganda would have it.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          No, the Chinese were not the only people to invade Vietnam in its modern history. Before the Vietnamese, the Cambodians (with epic stupidity) tried it in the Mekong Delta in 1977. They, like the Chinese, got their asses kicked. The US didn’t actually invade, it was invited by the South Vietnam government to take part in a civil war and lived to regret it (legally speaking, it was an invasion of Laos and Cambodia, but not Vietnam). Before that, the Japanese and French did it. They got their asses kicked too. There is a common thread here you may have noticed, which is the key reason why the China/Vietnam border did not change, and why the Chinese (and anyone else with common sense) have learned not to tangle on land with the Vietnamese.

          As to the conflict between India and China, I’d challenge you to find any independent observer with knowledge of the border issues who does not think that China is the primary aggressor there. And if you think its just Indian and US propaganda, try plugging into some Chinese media channels and you’ll really see propaganda at work.

          1. John A

            “The US didn’t actually invade, it was invited by the South Vietnam government to take part in a civil war”

            Hmm, as the US via Dulles and the CIA had been stirring trouble in Vietnam in the 1950s, and their man in South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem, was effectively a Guido of the 1950s, were Venezuela to descend into civil war, one can imagine a Guido ‘government’ inviting the US to take part.

            1. David

              I think the point PK was making was logistic, not political. The US didn’t have to “invade” Vietnam, because they were invited in. They didn’t have to fight their way through as the Chinese did in 1979, and as the Japanese did in 1941. (OK, the French were already there: IndoChina was a French colony.) They were invited by one side in a civil war, as, for example, were the Cubans in Angola in 1975. “Don’t try to fight your way into Vietnam” is probably as much a principle of war as “don’t march on Moscow.”

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Logistical, but I was also thinking in terms of international law. Technically speaking, there was nothing illegal about intervening in Vietnam, as they were operating with the permission of the ‘official’ government (monstrously corrupt as it was). Of course, there are numerous caveats to that, but at no stage could you call it an ‘invasion’.

                The Japanese occupation was of course an interesting one, as they portrayed it as kicking out the foreign colonisers, but I don’t think the Vietnamese considered them to be much of an upgrade. At least the French left some pretty good improvements to an already awesome cuisine.

                I’ve a Vietnamese friend here in Dublin, and one time she casually mentioned that her grandfather was a general in the North Vietnamese army (although her family are Saigonese). As a military history nerd, my jaw pretty much hit the floor when she told me who he was. Sadly, he died quite a few years ago (as soon as she said it I was immediately trying to work out how to find an excuse to meet him – the stories he must have had). What I find curious is that for the Vietnamese, there are remarkably few grudges – I guess thats what happens when you win. When I first visited the areas north of Hanoi I was pretty surprised to find that the most bitter memories people seemed to have was of the destruction caused by the Chinese invaders, not the (still visible) B52 bombings. In parts of Vietnam, the South Koreans have a worse name than the US, due to the particular brutality of the units helping out the US. Last week was the anniversary of one of the worst massacres. The French and Japanese periods are scarcely remembered, except by the dwindling number of old folk who still speak a little French.

                1. Old Sarum

                  British suppression of the Vietnamese:

                  Also not remembered is when us British “took over” in Vietnam after the Japanese surrender at the “end” of WW2, That was prior to France getting its colonial act back together. It was under the Labour government which followed ChurchilI’s defeat in 1945.

                  I have yet to read any historian’s take on that particular misdemeanor.


                  1. Susan the other

                    Can’t remember which books, but I did read a few that pointed out Ho’s disappointment with the US for not intervening in behalf of a democratic Vietnam. And he basically wrote the French off as apex hypocrites. I always believed that the cold war was created to allow the slowest possible disintegration of the former French and British colonies. And worse. There for a while we, the US, were contemplating using nuclear bombs in Vietnam and the Shan States in China (I think Gore Vidal here) to secure British interests in Hong Kong and also our mixed interests in Taiwan. According to GV, the Shan States were a treasure trove of mineral wealth. And gold. Not to mention a hub for opium and etc.

              2. Eclair

                “IndoChina was a French colony.” For which foodies should be eternally grateful. Out of this barbarism emerged both pho and the banh mi.

                Not that this should inspire other acts of colonialism.

              3. skippy

                I thought the U.S. bought the war off the French so MIC could get its happy meal, under the guise of fighting property haters [freedoms and liberty thingy]. This then lead to France hording gold and the subsequent consequences of that, monetary system and Volcker.

                But I’ll end with pointing out McNamara’s mea culpa ‘The Fog of War’ and the late scene at the dinner table with is NVA contemporaries – I summarize …

                McNamara – we offered you everything to leave the Chinese.

                Contemporary – you dumb yank [old SNL ref] – yeah everything, but full autonomy and self determination. That we buy arms and wrap ourselves in the ideological garb of those we have fought for the same reasons, for around 2000 years, is just an ends to a means …

                McNamara – Python fish skit …

              1. Susan the other

                IIRC Diem was in secret talks with the North VN, working to unite all of VN. Who was that American Colonel? Starts with an L. Must wiki.

          2. Sonoma John

            The U S did invade Vietnam. First they set up the South Vietnamese Government and then sent in the troops to prop it up. Violating the Vienna accords as Eisenhower admitted couldn’t let a commie win an election.

            As for India it seems at least a bit like a play By Modi to divert attention from other issues and cement his neo facsist policies.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Making Shit Up is against our written site Policies. This is also an ignorant comment.

              We did not set up the South Vietnamese government. We stepped into the role formerly taken by the French of propping up the South Vietnamese government, which existed well before we got involved. (see what has been called the First Indochina War). We did back the assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem in 1963, but we’d been providing economic support to South Vietnam since 1954, when the French withdrew.

              1. juno mas

                … after suffering a decisive/catastrophic defeat at Dien Bien Phu by the Viet Minh revolutionaries led by “Ho Chi Minh” . The battle began on March 13th and ended on May 7th. (Yes, don’t engage the Vietnamese in a land battle.)

                The defeat led to the 1954 Geneva Accord that finalized the removal of the French colonies in Indochina. However, the accord partitioned Vietnam at the 17th parallel which allowed the US to surreptitiously intervene int he politics of the newly created “South Vietnam”. Leading to the ultimate demise of the “Best and the Brightest” in the Fall of Saigon.

          3. Darthbobber

            I’ve always suspected that the Chinese “punitive expedition” against Vietnam had less to do with its excuse, the Vietnamese invasion of Kampuchea, than with Deng’s desire for an exercise in nationalism for the populace and something to keep the army occupied while he finished consolidating power. (He had just become paramount leader in December, and established formal diplomatic relations with the US in January. The propaganda campaign against the gang of 4 was at fever pitch and would culminate in the show trial in a couple more years.)

          4. José

            The US didn’t actually invade, it was invited by the South Vietnam government

            That´s correct. Just like the Soviet Union didn’t invade Afghanistan – she was invited by the government in Kabul.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          If you are gonna throw stones, you need to take a shit ton better aim.

          We acquired nearly all of our territories. We annexed Texas and Hawaii and a bunch of islands (for guano!) where we later ceded the claims. We did have a row with Spain over Florida but it didn’t rise to the level of an active (militarized) dispute and Spain ceded its claim.

          1. Darthbobber

            Well, the Spanish peacefully ceded Florida after Jackson demonstrated during the Seminole Wars that we could invade it with impunity. The Louisiana purchase is a peaceful acquisition as far as Napoleon was concerned, but the people actually occupying that land (not the French) had other ideas. California, most of Arizona and New Mexico as well as annexation of the tinhorn Republic of Texas were spoils of the Mexican War. The entire western advance in the north met military resistance from the Iroquois Confederacy to Tecumseh’s confederacy to the Sioux and Nez Perce. And having proper paperwork from earlier European powers (invaders themselves) is pretty irrelevant to what actually was going on. Yes, beaten tribes eventually signed papers which they had little choice about.

            The Philippines and Cuba were acquired through war with Spain (and in the case of the Philippines with a nasty war against the first Philippine Republic.) Not to mention the planters’coup against the Hawaiian monarchy.

            This may seem ancient history, though some is 20th century, but since I was responding to something that demonstrated the inherent expansionism of the Chinese by going all the way back to the Great Wall, it seemed appropriate.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              Those unenlightened Western attitudes are deeply unfashionable, but it’s pretty much a given that some European power would have expropriated the land of the native Americans. There was too much natural wealth for that not to happen. So the counterfactual history would have been a continent carved up among the Great Powers, as was attempted later in Africa. The Native American were too divided and too sparely distributed to hold off occupiers.

              And top players negotiating carve ups sadly was also the state of play. Have a look at the role of Talleyrand in influencing who got what after the Napoleonic Wars at the Council of Vienna in 1815

              1. Darthbobber

                I don’t necessarily think they’re specifically western attitudes, Yves. And I’m not at all attempting to advance a narrative of evil American exceptionalism, which is just American exceptionalism again, but with the black and white hats switched.

                I don’t think world history offers many examples of peoples/nations who discovered that their immediate neighbors were too weak to resist and did anything other than take full advantage of the situation. I see nothing unusual about the Han in that sense.

                1. juno mas

                  Both the Spanish Conquistadors (West Coast) and English Puritans (East Coast) took advantage of both Native American internicine skirmishes and their indefensible subjugation to new disease. It was small pox not small bullets that allowed for the displacement of Native Americans (on both coasts). Some estimate the population of what is now known as the US and Mexico to be 20 million inhabitants in 1492.

                  By the 1800’s the Native American population was less than 95% of that. Take away ancestral lands (food source, social cohesion) and soon enough you’ll sign anything.

                  Let’s hope Deb Haaland (Interior) will find a way to return more ancestral land to the ancestral lineage.

              2. juno mas

                … after suffering a decisive/catastrophic defeat at Dien Bien Phu by the Viet Minh revolutionaries led by “Ho Chi Minh” . The battle began on March 13th and ended on May 7th. (Yes, don’t engage the Vietnamese in a land battle.)

                The defeat led to the 1954 Geneva Accord that finalized the removal of the French colonies in Indochina. However, the accord partitioned Vietnam at the 17th parallel which allowed the US to surreptitiously intervene int he politics of the newly created “South Vietnam”. Leading to the ultimate demise of the “Best and the Brightest” in the Fall of Saigon.

                Today, Vietnam is a vibrant society of 90+ million who have somehow contained Covid. Yet another defeat for the US.

      5. Bazarov

        This idea that China “never had much interest in long distance power projection or colonies”–unless this is hyperbole or unless you mean “across the sea” (even here we have to ignore two massive amphibious invasions of Japan under the Yuan emperor), it’s doesn’t ring true to me.

        The Manchu founder of the Ch’ing dynasty, the K’ang-hsi emperor, projected power deep into Tibet, driving out the Mongols there and making it a tributary vassal state in 1717. He also attacked Russian at Fort Albazin in 1685, ultimately forcing the Russians to relinquish their hold on the Amur River valley.

        The third Ch’ing heir, the Yung-cheng emperor, campaigned with incredible vigor and expansionary zeal, ultimately crushing Mongol power once and for all. In 1759, in the wake of the Mongol defeat, the Yung-cheng emperor incorporated what is now Xinjiang into China proper. Later, he campaigned into Tibet, tying it even more tightly to Chinese control in a virtual annexation. This certainly counts as “long distance power projection,” considering Xinjiang’s distance from the major traditional power centers of China: Loyang (3,000km), Chang’an (2600km), Beijing (2900km), Hangchow (4000km).

        Moreover, in the centuries before this great “long distance power projection,” China was fond of creating military colonies in central Asia, laying the ground work for its annexation. There’s also the fact that the Northern Chinese only gradually conquered the South by virtue of colonization and imperial incursion. Indeed, the aboriginal people of Southwestern China held out well into the Manchu period, only to be defeated and subjugated in 1776!

        Beyond this, there are the various punitive forays into Burma, Vietnam, and Nepal, any one of which could’ve resulted in annexation under a suitably aggressive imperial administration. The Ming emperor Ch’eng-tsu embarked a naval fleet to Africa, collecting tribute, and for a 30 year period in the early 15th century controlled the Indian Ocean by virtue of many naval expeditions led by Admiral Cheng Ho (interestingly, a eunuch and a follower of Islam).

        While I agree that Chinese culture, so often under sway of conservative “scholar-officials” rather than military darers-do, has generally considered military values and achievements vulgar, giving it a broadly inward-looking character, despite that tendency it often succumbed to the impulse for ruthless (and often quite successful!) imperial aggression very far from China’s traditional homeland.

        1. PlutoniunKun

          Just to clarify, when I meant ‘long distance power projection or colonies’, I meant ones beyond the immediate boundaries of China. Of course, there were periods of Chinese history when they showed a lot of interest in exploration and colonies, but never with the sustained aggression of Europeans. But you are of course right that from its several cores over a long period of history, China has steadily absorbed and systematically attempted to Sinicize its neighbours. Many parts of what we now consider China were quite ethnically and linguistically distinct up to the 19th Century. Many still are, plenty of so called ‘dialects’ of Chinese are really very distinct languages.

      6. upstater

        Watch Biden stumbling up the stairs of Air Force one, and consider his track record of being pro war. He’d push the button. He’s surrounded himself with neocons. The future doesn’t look bright. Either accept the end of empire, or else a smouldering cinder heap.

        1. caucus99percenter

          A belief does exist among many “Latinx” that migration across the southern border is not truly immigration, but rather part of the long, slow reversion of what is temporarily the southwestern U.S. to its rightful place as part of Mexico.

    3. timbers

      Regarding that topic and Matt Stroller on Russia/China

      “Biden made a mistake…”

      Does anyone think Biden is the one “making” US foreign policy?

    4. Louis Fyne

      “…he suggest that China is simply pursuing their own “national interest” and has no intention or desire to engage the U.S. in military, or kinetic engagements. .”

      IMO, Barring a nuclear exchange, the Chinese military has no reason to fear the US as the US will literally be fighting in the Chinese front yard using aircraft carrier groups that will be forced to stay well away from the area of combat due to Chinese missile tech.

      And IMO, given the political division of the US, one party will not support the other party in a developed nation v. developed nation war barring Pearl Harbor II. (When in the past the Beltway could always count on the red states to rally behind the flag)

      1. tegnost

        re missile tech…SOMK metioned above that china is easily blockaded, and not being a military buff I resisted waiting for one more knowledgeable. With that in mind, (I was trained in naval operations by patrick o brien, cs forester, and dudley pope) it may be that naval operations as previously practiced will be stymied by drones.The exocet in the falklands was a game changer if I’ve got the story right, and ISTM drones and guided bombs are much more lethal to ships.

      2. Gc54

        One carrier sunk and enough USians will “rally to the flag” for revenge that opposition will vanish in media coverage. Does the DC idiocracy have plan B beyond skedaddling to WV bunkers?

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          If carriers being sunk, who is hosting US bases at this point or allowing logistical operations? Never mind the belief in American wunder weapons being exploded along with the operational capacity offered by a carrier.

    5. km

      Even if it wanted to, China is not geographically positioned for empire.

      On land, it is hemmed in by Siberia, the western deserts and the Himalayas.

      At sea, the South China Sea is easily choked off.

    6. Alex Morfesis

      We need enemies even if we have to create them by destroying places to create a future enemy from a child displaced…a game played by many an empire throughout History…it would be easy to disrupt the Chinese Red Army and it’s fake red commparty sychophants by chipping at it’s edges… starting with calling for a UN commission to review of the return of Historical Korean territories currently “occupied” by China and Russia…onedumbsun would get on his white horse and carry an American flag with him to his Northern current border the next day…the old Chinese water torture trick…would you believe…

    7. occasional anonymous

      Stoller is of very limited to use to begin with, but is absolutely worthless on the subject of China, where he becomes a full on screeching John Birch Society type, paranoid about the rise of the filthy Reds (a subject he knows literally nothing about, by the way, since he vocally refuses to engage with Marx).

  3. Isotope_C14

    “AstraZeneca: German team discovers thrombosis trigger DW (David L)”

    Is it Heparin? They won’t say in the article. My bet is heparin. (Not the trigger, but the cheap treatment)

    Supposed to get AZ on Wed morning. Last weeks vaccinations that were supposed to be done in Berlin were rescheduled for this week. My research group, by Wed will be 100% first dose AZ, with followup doses in June.

    Case count is up to almost 100 per 100k in Berlin, Thuringia is still awful at over 200 per, and a lot of other German regions are above 100 per.

    For those that think “German efficiency” is a thing, it is just hard-work propaganda. This place is terrible at doing anything besides generating paperwork.

    Vaccine rollout has been done in perfectly German style…

    1. IM Doc

      My understanding from other literature – that it is bridging with LOVENOX ( unfractionated heparin) or plain old-fashioned subcutaneous heparin at therapeutic dosing for a few days – then either XARELTO or ELIQUIS for as long as deemed necessary. ( Needless to say, none of these drugs have been approved for this usage).

      I have done this a few times, with patients who have any history of blood clotting issues (factor v leiden, etc.) , unexplained deep vein thrombosis or pulmonary emboli who have received ANY of the COVID vaccines. Early on, I had a few people who developed blood clots (so far just DVT thankfully) around the time of their injections. But have also had a few who had atherosclerotic events immediately around their vaccine (very unclear if this is correlative).

      This is another reason why I am concerned about the football stadium parking lot approach to these vaccines. There are any number of people who really should be talking to their physicians about potential problems. Of course, that would assume their physician has a clue about what the side effects even are. There are so many who are just on auto-pilot – Vaccinate everybody – and Vaccinate NOW!!!

      1. Isotope_C14

        Thank you for your well informed response IM Doc!

        What is your take on the MMR 2 correlation (Titer of mumps) vs. COVID symptom severity?

        ^ this link was found by user name Cojo

        I’m fascinated by this, and the fact that this is an already established safe vaccine that could be used at least to mitigate symptoms, especially in the case of older folk, that probably didn’t get MMR due to the fact that they were children at a time when the vaccine didn’t exist, and therefore didn’t get it.

        1. IM Doc

          I have looked into this question. I do not think we have enough data one way or the other to make valid assertions. It is an interesting concept – and very unclear how that mechanism would work – but we just do not know enough. Like many other things in this pandemic, I am certainly hoping someone somewhere is really looking into this in a way that will clarify the answers.

          1. Isotope_C14

            Thank you for your reply!

            I’m reasonably sure that as there is no financial gain in answering this question, and that the Ferrengi that run the show will make sure we don’t have an answer any time soon.

            I suspect looking at the numbers in Argentina in the next 2-3 months may be informative, since they are deploying this vaccine there – at least according to my co-worker who has a mother and sister there who were both vaccinated with MMR 2 in the last 2 weeks.

            I thought the “Western Democracies” would love to help the global south, but apparently that isn’t the case.

      2. Carla

        IM Doc — given the recent information (in CNN link above, and elsewhere) about low-dose aspirin apparently being somewhat protective against infection with Covid-19, and also protective against severe disease, do you think it possibly wise for adults to take low-dose aspirin for one or more days before receiving Astra-Zeneca or any other Covid-19 vaccine?

        1. IM Doc

          I often recommend this – especially patients with known history of any kind of arterial disease. It is NOT going to hurt them in any way – and it may prevent some of these rare but known problems from happening. I view that as a WIN-WIN.

      3. petal

        I walked into work(main entrance of our regional hospital) about 20 minutes ago and it was a mad house. Definitely not normal for a Saturday morning. I ran into a PI and he said it was teachers here to be vaccinated. I heard a check-in person ask someone what they had had for their first shot, so they must have both Pfizer and Moderna on-site. No idea about Janssen. The state has been holding a clinic at our local closed Penney’s store, so I am not sure why there is one here at the hospital, too. Maybe there’s a big push to get more done/schools open.

      4. Katniss Everdeen

        There are so many who are just on auto-pilot – Vaccinate everybody – and Vaccinate NOW!!!

        Between the vaccines-will-save-us-from-all-covid-societal-ills and visions of big pharma future mega-profits, it seems to have been forgotten that the covid vaccines are being administered, en masse–“the football stadium parking lot approach”–on an Emergency Use Authorization. EUAs have never been used on this large a scale before.

        According to this FDA publication,

        Post-authorization vaccine safety monitoring is a federal government responsibility shared primarily by FDA and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with other agencies involved in healthcare delivery. Post-authorization safety monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic vaccination program will aim to continuously monitor the safety of COVID-19 vaccines to rapidly detect safety problems if they exist……

        …..The U.S. government has a well-established post-authorization/post-approval vaccine safety monitoring infrastructure that will be scaled up to meet the needs of a large-scale COVID-19 vaccination program. The U.S. government – in partnership with health systems, academic centers, and private sector partners – will use multiple existing vaccine safety monitoring systems to monitor COVID-19 vaccines in the post-authorization/approval period. Some of these systems are the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), the Biologics Effectiveness and Safety (BEST) Initiative, and Medicare claims data.

        So, with the cdc still debating 6ft. vs. 3 ft. and one mask or two, it’s hard to believe that the “federal government” is carrying out its “post-authorization safety monitoring” responsibilities as rigorously as the public has been led to believe, and has the right to expect. The strategy would seem to be to just vilify anyone who questions the idea that all the confusion is actually scientific “clarity.”

        Color me skeptical.

        1. Mikel

          It’s absolutely chilling.

          But to admit that is raining on the fantasy that “normal” was some kind of Shangri-La. We got a reminder of what “normal” was going in the country before Covid with the big news story this past week.
          And then all the saber rattling is back too.

      5. Maritimer

        “There are any number of people who really should be talking to their physicians about potential problems.”

        In my jurisdiction, it is “One size fits all.” No consideration for one’s particular medical conditions. Just get jabbed! It seems we have entered an age of Mass Medicine.

        Having asked reasonable questions about my healthcare in the past, my family doctor once said to me, “What are you doing—checking up on me?” Well, yes.

        1. Susan the other

          Same problem here. I’m thinking that Pfizer/Moderna has been promised a quota of jabs; that those purchases by the CDC are to be given and the contract satisfied before anyone can request the J&J. Can’t get anything except the vaccine available on the day of your jab appointment. And there is absolutely no one to appeal to. Strange.

    2. Reds

      To give you an idea of how bad the UK’s handling of the 2nd/3rd wave was, we entered into 100+ cases per 100k on Oct 1st and didn’t get under 100 cases until Feb 24 for the UK as a whole peaking at 640 around the new year. These averages hide how impacted some areas were hit with some neighbourhoods reaching as high as 6000+ per week.

      You can see how the infection spread across the whole of the UK (and down to the neighbourhood level in England) at the UK’s Interactive Map using the slider bar. Unfortunately, the slider does not go back to January 2020.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        R0 is going above 1 again in the UK, apparently due to premature school reopenings, so its entirely possible it will have a fourth wave. So it may be that the UK will once again manage to pull defeat from the jaws of victory.

        1. R

          UK has had two waves. The November lockdown-lite results in a false summit of the 2nd wave in November, where a small decline is followed by a stratospheric increase.

          Arguably you could say that this was a second and third wave in terms of the variants, because the second double-peaked curve is essentially a composite of classic corona, which responded to the lockdown in Nov (R1, IIRC estimated at 1.2-1.3) limiting the decline and then went through the roof (R=2, nationally, much higher in some locations) when it was released.

          The situation with schools is very unclear. Our two children went back on the 8th. Everybody was relieved but the youngest brought back a stinker of a cold in the first week and I have been enjoying it this week. Sore throat, congestion, productive cough, no fever.

          School parents get lateral flow devices (I was handed two packs, seven in a pack) and I tested negative. You just drive to a testing centre (big car park by a railway station – currently no takers!) and collect them, no name and no questions. The test plus the symptoms make me confident it is just a cold.

          The lateral flow tests are being taken in hundreds of thousands and many negatives are likely not reported – I did not report the negative result and writing this prompted me to check and actually I should have done! At the moment positivity is not increasing, despite likely underreporting of negatives, but cases are, I.e. we are uncovering existing infection.

          The counterargument is that, in our area, the 0-4 and 5-9 age groups both reported cases this week for the first week since lockdown began…. Cases in the middle aged groups (i.e. parents) also rose.

          Fingers crossed we are not going to cock this up.

          One piece of good news, NI is offering vaccinations to residents of the south if they hold an NHS number. I’d like to see them drop even that condition but there will still be a lot of Republic citizens who have an NHS number who can take advantage of this.

  4. Fireship

    > Philadelphia’s Skid Row: Video shows city’s homeless crisis with dozens camped around trash bin fire Daily Mail

    Of course, the comments section underneath this story blames it on DemonRat city administrations, open borders and drug legalization. What a hopeless country. A society that actively rewards greed and ignorance has no future.

      1. JBird4049


        I’m embarrassed in that I really don’t see that there is much to see here. It is worse, only by degree, on the worst I can see here throughout the Bay Area. No open flames, but we’re a bit warmer usually. I am guessing that the Bay Areans are slightly whiter, older, and female. I also guess that our local homeless are more spread out and more often hidden in the parks or the hills. Concrete versus a nice green park. I know what I would prefer.

        People sleeping on the street is a normal thing. I can have a hard time noticing. People being on Mars is just routine. Has increasingly been so for forty years.

        IIRC, the closest to this would be Golden Gate or Turk (I forget), about two blocks north of Market and several blocks east of Van Ness and City Hall. Near the methadone clinic of course.

        20-45 minute drive depending on the traffic and I can take a picture of it. Perhaps an hour by bus.

        Maybe this is all third worldish, but this is San Francisco. I last walked/drove through past that spot about two years ago and a number of times before that. I don’t think it has gotten any better during the quarantine.

    1. Glen

      I was driving home for work earlier this week going through a large city in the PNW. It’s late winter, the leaves are off the trees, and one can see the many, many tarp tents in the woods next to the freeway. I easily went past over fifty or more in the four miles of freeway on my route.

      And when I was riding my bike to work, it was easy to identify the people living in cars along the roads.

      Homeless is a bad name for this. I’m not sure what is a good name. It would be nice to know when this population exploded, but I’ll do my best estimate:

      OBAMAVILLES – This is where you get to live when the President bails out the rich crooks, doesn’t stop any of their crimes, and you lose everything.

      1. JBird4049


        So many people homeless and yet the vampire class is buying up entire neighborhoods of houses and apartments because they have the money. The money printer keeps going brrrrrrp to stimulate the economy but all this cash goes to the “investor” class and not to the people who need it.

      2. occasional anonymous

        Portland’s figured out the solution to that problem.

        By which I mean they have no solution; they just let a charity put a few porta potties near tent encampments.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Report: Biden Considering Keeping Troops in Afghanistan Until November”

    Yeah, we all know how this goes. Come November Biden will tell the Taliban that November is bad for them because they have Thanksgiving coming up & all the invitations have been sent and can we push it through to next month? And then when December rocks around you will have all the preparations for Christmas to attend to and he will tell the Taliban c’mon man, nobody moves house at Christmas time. Of course January is out of the question too as everybody is trying to get rid of their hangovers from the New Years Eve parties. Biden would say that he was going to invite them but as he knew that they did not drink alcohol, he did not want to kill the buzz of those parties. But next year for sure! Absolutely.

  6. pjay

    Matt Stoller: “The Chinese government by contrast [with Russia] is actively fostering war.”

    Could anyone explain what the hell Stoller means here? How is China “actively fostering war”? This is a legitimate question, not a snarky response.

  7. CanCyn

    Re Beware of Books.
    this article reminds me of why I dislike so much YA literature – it is too obviously trying to teach me a lesson.
    Re American Dirt in particular, To me it was a good, well-written story. And yes it did highlight current and past political problems and made me think about immigration issues. When I read the book, it never occurred to me to question or dislike it because the author isn’t Mexican or South American. Simply telling a story does not (should not?) constitute cultural appropriation.

    1. Mike

      In my experience, this issue started decades ago. An example- when visiting Black Panther speakers at Penn State Univ. told a predominantly white audience that none of them could answer for or represent the Black condition, and it would be Black writers and scholars who should take the lead, to guide whites in true appreciation of the culture. A culture mostly grown by the white elite, caused by a capitalism originating in white activity, and a society that needed the cooperation of Blacks and whites to understand all sides of racial hatred and class society, was to be explained by those most oppressed. The message seemed to be picked up by the Black congressional caucus in a mild watered-down message of “lift yourself up” that would support Black business over community self-development by the oppressed. Books and periodicals for and by Blacks alone were the source of information. It seems to have morphed in time.

      1. CanCyn

        I agree that problem is not a new one. It has been building for sometime, you are right about that. It just seems to have peaked of late. Microagressions. College calendars with trigger warnings – I’ve always thought that if someone’s is so traumatized by some violence in their past that they can’t even hear the word in another context, then they probably shouldn’t be sitting in a classroom, they need some help first. And there is a reason many comedians are loathe to perform on college and university campuses these days. The wokerati are gunning for them and many other authors, musicians, and artists of all ilks. It would be nice if someone stopped to think about more dangerous problems in the world that this overt Idpol is distracting us from.

        1. diptherio

          But riddle me this: before the advent of our modern idpol, were people any more aware of the “more dangerous problems”? I can’t think of a single time in my adult life when the mainstream narratives about what our major problems are resembled in the least what I thought/think they are. It’s a bit like blaming war on religion. Yes, religion is used as an excuse to start wars, but so are democracy, freedom, etc. If it wasn’t idpol keeping people distracted, it would just be something else. The PTB know all to well that, as Ani Difranco put it, “every tool is a weapon, if you hold it right.”

          1. CanCyn

            You’re right Diptherio, we’ve been distracted from the things that need fixing for a very long time. Consumerism came before idpol. I think idpol and it’s attacks on literature really bother me because I like to read so much. A good story is a good story. And funnily enough, while well aware of the woes of the world, it is literature that gives me much comfort and relief – and distraction! And it is also the source of much angst – for the most part when I read about other cultures, I end up being reminded yet again that for all of our differences, our basic needs are the same. We all need food, shelter and love. The angst comes from how unbearable it can be that we can’t figure out this simple concept – our similarities outweigh our differences.

            1. JBird4049

              We all need food, shelter and love. The angst comes from how unbearable it can be that we can’t figure out this simple concept – our similarities outweigh our differences.

              I think that our differences are made to outweigh our similarities.

              1. caucus99percenter

                Yep. When Google, Twitter, Amazon, Facebook & Co. manipulate their internal algorithms, they’re also manipulating our internal algorithms — the ones inside our brains and minds.

                Corporate jiggery-“wokery” has become so pervasive, I’d say they’ve become quite good at shifting the weighting coefficients away from commonalities and in favor of difference, “diversity”, and division.

                Without fine-grained demographic division, of what value is the finely-tuned targeted marketing those companies are selling?

          2. occasional anonymous

            It’s gotten to extremes however. Both in terms of what the actual problems are, and in terms of how vacuous are the things most people are focusing on. Right now we’re in the middle of some even more inane mix of McCarthyism and the Cultural Revolution. Meanwhile the climate is collapsing.

      2. occasional anonymous

        “Books and periodicals for and by Blacks alone were the source of information.”

        Probably helps to explain the hotep weirdos who think ancient Egyptians were black.

    2. ciaran

      Seems like a peculiarly American madness. Its really quite a “problematic” philosophy if you think about it. imagine if it was applied in reverse, “how dare this mexican write about american life….he’s not american.”

      1. CanCyn

        It is also in much evidence in Canada, especially with regard to our indigenous peoples. There is no doubt that they have suffered and continue to suffer from past colonial policies and current institutional racism but I don’t understand the offence caused by a white person telling an indigenous story. I’ve already stated that I am not a fan of literature that deliberately sets out to teach me something but that is not to say that I do not learn a lot from my fictional reading. If someone like the author of American Dirt brings new awareness or deeper understanding of the problem of migration to the world, why would anyone object to that? Again though, again, I believe that at the heart of it lies distraction from the real woes of the world, numero uno being wealth and healthcare inequality. No doubt many are sincere in their unwillingness to cause offence but I think they are caught in the distracting web of idpol that only seems to be growing and not for the better. labelling and othering is not going to solve any of our problems. Sigh.

      2. Geo

        I was at a discussion panel featuring some of top behind-the-camera black female talent. Writers, directors and producers for hit TV shows and films.

        One of the writers for the show Empire was asked about representation and other people writing black characters. Her response was she doesn’t want anyone telling her she’s not allowed to write white, Asian or Latino characters so she won’t tell anyone else what they can write. Then directed the conversation about understanding the characters and stories one writes and not relying on stereotypes and caricatures.

        Hopefully this will become more of the focus as time goes on. Doesn’t matter how many hyphens one may have in their identity, at some point they’re going to want to write a character outside that group. And, very few writers want to create stories by committee whether that committee is a bunch of studio execs or a diversity panel all pushing for more inclusion and elevation of their preferred identity.

        On the flip side: a new script of mine has repeatedly been questioned for its lack of diversity. Not once in the narrative do I mention a character’s race or gender preferences yet two of the characters are immigrants and one is based on a real life Latino politician. But, I intentionally left those aspects unsaid to allow for more open casting for actors of any race and identity. Funny that those saying the story needed diversity assumed all the characters were straight and white. Maybe they need to check their own bias? :)

      3. David

        Alas no, the French have got it just as badly. The latest is the Director of one of the National Theatres saying he wasn’t going to programme any plays without a “diverse” set of characters. There goes most of French drama.

      4. Lee

        We’re ripe for a backlash, wherein white people should be objecting to non-whites performing classical European music, or speaking European languages for that matter. Nor should they be allowed to learn and use calculus. The list could go on

        With apologies to my ancestors, being of Anglo-Irish descent, if I didn’t engage in culinary cultural appropriation, I’d never get a decent meal.

      5. occasional anonymous

        Not only Americans:

        Yes, ‘decolonise’ the curriculum by removing works that predate Cromwell’s conquest of Ireland (not that Ireland counts of course, because white people are privileged /s) by centuries.

        One think I notice about the woke is that for as much as they love to talk about colonialism, they never *actually* want to talk about colonialism, and in fact probably have no idea what it is or why it’s done.

    3. occasional anonymous

      YA is a cesspit. It’s filled with incredibly middling, at best, authors who are high on their own supply. They’re active on social media and set up their own little circlejerk bubbles where their fans endlessly praise them and where dissent isn’t allowed. Meanwhile what they’re actually writing are, with very few exceptions, derivative adventure and shallow romance stories for teenagers, that strive for mediocrity at their best. Everyone is tying to be the next Suzanne Collins (The Hunger Games, which isn’t amazing by any means, is one of the better examples of the genre. It’s basically all downhill from that level of quality).

      With YA you have the ugly spectacle of a lot of mediocrities, completely ignorant, and usually scornful of, real writing, enabled by legions of sycophants who are at least as ignorant as their idols, convincing themselves that they aren’t just authors of shallow adventure stories. No, they’re the vanguard of a new, enlightened literature (sic), and cast judgement on all the cavemen who came before them. Don’t read a bunch of old dead white men, no, there’s nothing to be gained from doing that. Instead let sages like N. K. Jemisin be your guide to ‘proper’ writing.

      1. ambrit

        Oh my. Imagine how these “culture warriors” would react to old style pulp fiction; such as Weird Tales, Black Mask, Gun Molls, Quick Trigger Western, Honeymoon Stories, Startling Stories, Dime Detective Magazine, Sky Aces, Red Blooded Stories, Terror Tales, South Sea Stories, etc. etc. (All are real publications from the first half of the 1900s.)
        I have learned to try to look beneath the ’cause du jour’ for the psychological or ideological motivations.
        In our Fallen World, Cynicism is a necessary art to cultivate.

      2. CanCyn

        I’m with you, YA is mostly preachy drivel. I am very glad to have grown up before YA really existed, at least not to the extent it does now. I read a few Nancy Drew mysteries as I aged out of picture books, graduated to Jane Eyre at age 10 and read adult fiction from then on.
        When I read the Harry Potter series out of sheer curiosity because so many adults were reading them, I was not particularly impressed by the writing. People were shocked when I expressed that opinion.

        1. occasional anonymous

          I actually have a soft spot for Harry Potter. It grew up with its characters and its audience, each book getting darker as the students got older. It should have been an introduction to literature for its readers. It grew up with them, and when it was done they could graduate to more serious fair.

          The problem is that a huge number of them never grew up. Harry Potter didn’t become just the first of many literary stepping stones, it remains the only frame of reference for a seemingly huge number of people.

          Hilariously they’ve turned on J. K. Rowling, because she herself isn’t woke enough (she dares to think male and female are distinct categories that might matter).

  8. The Rev Kev

    “The Tories are coming for the BBC”

    Rubbish, man. It will never happen. The UK’s 77th Brigade would never stand for it because they are so useful to them.

    1. SallyG

      The BBC is being destroyed by political correctness.

      Having followed their radio and television programs since the 1960s, My Word!, a wonderful example, it is dismaying to see their descent into identity politics.

      For example, the every U.K. police official is a woman of color fable, is apparently their stated policy which was finally explained by a link I saw here at Naked Capitalism years ago and which I saved:

      “In 2016 the BBC pledged that half its workforce and leadership would be female by 2020 despite less than 40 percent of Britain’s full-time workers being women. It also set an 8 percent target for LGBT employees, although only around 2 percent of the population identify as LGBT. This target has been comfortably exceeded, as has been the target of having 15 percent of employees from a BAME background. In the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests last month, the corporation raised this target to 20 per cent.”

      Their casting and script writing reflects this of course, thus alienating most of their audience and creating a “Who cares what happens to them” attitude.

      1. Procopius

        In Thailand, virtually every “soap opera” has at least one LGBTQ character. Every lakhorn that is about or mentions the entertainment industry must have at least one “woman of the second type,” usually as an agent and often as someone with real power over others.

          1. caucus99percenter

            Maybe the world of gender will evolve so it’ll be like the way analog TV channel tuning worked. Genders 2 through 13 are VHF and everyone can get them. Genders 14 through 83 are UHF and even though the law says they must be equally supported, getting them requires a bit of extra fiddling with your set.

  9. IM Doc

    With regard to the progesterone/COVID link.

    As an internist, this has been something I have grappled with for about the past 10 years when this phenomenon appeared out of nowhere out of the ether.

    I think most people would be absolutely shocked if they knew how many middle aged women were being placed on TESTOSTERONE for very flimsy reasons. The testosterone dosing is often much more than I would dream giving a male patient with documented low testosterone levels.

    The testosterone is often given with rather large doses of estrogen and even bigger whopping doses of adrenal hormones. I have never really understood what is the purpose behind this – other than many believe it makes them “feel better”.

    Needless to say, this regimen completely negates any effect progesterone would have, not only on COVID but many other things. It also puts these women at extreme risk for many other medical problems – situations which I have seen with my own eyes repeatedly.

    And the medical profession looks down the nose on physicians who are using ivermectin for COVID off label while this is going on all around them.

    Sometimes, I wonder what is happening to my profession

    1. Robert Hahl

      Twenty years ago it was popular to put post-menopausal women on Prempro, a mixture of estrogen and progesterone, ostensibly to prevent bone loss and heart attack, but really to improve sexual performance (citation: personal communications from my wife). The Nurses’ Health Study spoiled all that, by showing Prempro gives no benefit for heart or bone, and the whole business dried up for American Home Products almost overnight.

      Now, it well known that testosterone makes women horny (cite: id). It seems to me that the only mystery here is what doctors claim to be prescribing it for, not why.

      1. grayslady

        Every woman has natural testosterone–levels vary, and blood tests are not the best method of finding out if you have the correct amount. Testosterone definitely plays a part in overall balance for mental health and it doesn’t have to do with sex drive; it has to do with aggression. When I first started HRT for menopause, many years ago (I only ever used bioidentical estrogen), I became unable to cope with small life disruptions that I would previously have tackled handily. My doctor added a small amount of testosterone to my program and it made all the difference. We agreed that I could chop the tablets in half until I found the right level–an approach I recommend, since a little goes a long way.

        Unfortunately, bad products from big pharma and the resulting studies that frightened doctors away from recommending HRT have left many menopausal women miserable. Anti-depressants are the worst thing that can be prescribed since they, inevitably, don’t work. The mental issues have to do with hormones, not serotonin re-uptake. A certain amount of testosterone is important for women, but getting to the right level is something that needs to be worked out between the woman and her doctor. For some women, it can take years for the body to readjust after menopause, so any program should be monitored annually for correct hormonal balance.

        1. IM Doc

          I completely understand what you are talking about – and it is a genuine problem. Many post-menopausal women are miserable. And that is my concern about any of these hormone approaches – too little attention is paid to what it is doing to the patient over time and the follow up is often atrocious. In many of our big cities, this is being done in strip mall fly by night kind of clinics. And that leads to tragedy – which is often what I see. And to my point above – the whole issue about the protective effect of progesterone is completely obliterated in these patients – their own native progesterone production could never compete with the often godzilla sized doses of testosterone, DHEA, and estrogen.

          When I give a patient any medication for a non-approved indication, I tend to be very careful.

    2. three skies

      Front Line Covid-19 Critical Care Alliance doctors held a press conference on Thursday to alert the press to the data which shows Ivermectin’s benefits against SARS-CoV-2. And, should one want to get it, there are contacts at the site to medical doctors willing to take one’s medical history and prescribe it. Also drbeen at drbeen.com_medical lectures has many discussions on Ivermectin on his Youtube Channel. My Primary had never heard of it, yet it’s “covered” by my Part D formulary (the rep tells me on the phone) and on a no pre-authorization basis for $3.85 for a “month’s supply” which would be a package of 20 3mg. tablets. The FLCCC suggested prophylactic protocol includes Ivermectin (the indicated dose taken twice the first week, then once a week thereafter, or once every other week thereafter, even after vaccination, for its viro-static and immune system supportive mechanisms. drbeen draws illustrative sketches as he discusses each mechanism of this and all the medicines which have been investigated for their “off label” mechanisms. I just streamed the one on CoQ10 and learned how we make energy from food and oxygen.

      1. rowlf

        Oh man, you have to think the tectonic plates are shifting when my mom the librarian in Central Pennsylvania brings up Ivermectin in a long distance phone conversation on my lack of enthusiasm to get vaccinated while I am helping her with a computer problem. A local news outlet to her printed an FLCCC press release/article and she thought it made sense. I mentioned my weekly world news searches of pro and anti news on the subject and how foreign news and US news varies, and also the FDA “don’t take animal medicine” reporting versus not mentioning using human doses.

        Mom suspected a profits angle. I think my DNA is poisoned. /s

    3. Yves Smith Post author

      The reason for testosterone is 1/3 of the women on antidepressants actually have low testosterone and testosterone can clear that up.

    1. petal

      My prediction is it’ll bleed over into southern NH if it hasn’t already, then work its way up here. sigh.
      Have gotten word from our dept chair that the college is working with the state to streamline getting employees vaccinated. No choice of vaccines though from what I can tell. Coworker went to the local state vax clinic site and was given Pfizer on Thursday.

  10. The Rev Kev

    “Medicare for All Just Got a Massive Boost”

    I started to read this article but after a few paragraphs had to stop. In five days time will be the anniversary of the House passing the CARES Act with only Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican of all people, putting up any sort of resistance. Others may disagree but I think that was the best time to pass a Medicare for All deal. All those billionaires and corporations were demanding their trillions of dollars “relief” so that they could be made whole & even profit from it. If it became know that they would get diddly-squat until a Medicare for All option was part of the deal, I am sure that it would have passed as they would have just instructed their trained seals in the Senate and House to pass the damn thing, M4A and all. But of course that never happened nor did a UBI nor even unfreezing the minimum wage.

    1. flora

      I’m waiting to see if the Dem estab, in their current configuration, gets behind M4A. If they do then I’m pretty sure it’s going to crappify M4A… as in privatized M4A to enrich insurance companies even more. They’re already trying to privatize it with Medicare Advantage, which is draining the Medicare Trust Fund faster than traditional Medicare payouts. If they want to shore up Medicare finances they’d get rid of the govt subsidized Medicare Advantage Plans.
      No, if the Dem estab gets behind M4A it will become a version of O-Care-for-All or Medicare Advantage for All. I’m that skeptical of the Dem party’s “good intentions”.

      However, I don’t think the Dem estab will get behind M4A in traditional Medicare coverage form by simply eliminating the eligibility age requirement, never ever. I think this is more voter bait-and-switch. They’ve been running this play for 25 years. Lucy and the football.

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      I can’t think of when the M4A advocates in power had more leverage than before passing the CARES act. Since them, they’ve had a couple of other opportunities, though maybe not as strong, but apparently it wasn’t the right time (as usual.) This current “push” looks great on Twitter, I guess, but they have no bargaining power to make it happen. I’d like to be wrong, but this feels like the traditional Dem move of “fighting for” something when they don’t have the muscle to make it happen and it never being the “right time” when they do.

        1. Jason

          Adding, it’s not enough to keep introducing and reintroducing bills without a strategy to get a vote on the bills. The “squad” and affiliated “progressives” can still force a vote and block every piece of legislation until this gets through if they choose to vote together. Many people mistakenly see these disruptive measures (democratic politics) as being ill-suited for public consumption: they’ll serve to turn off much of the populace. But as David Sirota and others have noted, exactly the opposite is true: the public overwhelmingly supports universal healthcare and voting as a bloc to get it implemented would fortify the party in the eyes of the public. It would save the democratic party from itself.

  11. Henry Moon Pie

    Thanks for the link to Jason Hickel’s new book about degrowth. Teaser paragraph:

    What is needed is an approach [i.e. “worldview” or even “religion”] that transcends both Western modernism and traditional world views, by adopting a deep ecological understanding of interdependency and the ethical responsibility of humans as ecosystem stewards, using scientific knowledge and dialectical understanding in that work, while also drawing on the insights of the traditional stewards of the land, especially traditional peoples. That perspective, which Dussel terms “transmodern” is essentially the perspective of a subterranean current in socialist thought, from Winstanley via Engels (whose thinking prefigured systems ecology) and Morris, to recent thinkers such as Rachel Carson and Raymond WIlliams, as explored in John Bellamy Foster’s major work, “The Return of Nature”. I think that is probably the perspective that Jason Hickel also takes, but from the book, it is not very clear.

    The reviewer misses what I’d consider the most important of those urging and shaping a new worldview: Thomas Berry. Berry’ s statement that “the universe is a communion of subjects, not a collection of objects,” gives us a succinct modern formulation of animism along with the grounding of this new worldview in what we’ve learned so far about evolution and cosmology.

    Otherwise, great discussion of what the reviewer recognizes as the most important question of all: how do we get billions of people, trained to consume endlessly and thoughtlessly by the Madmen, to lay down their credit cards and cease warring against the only home we have in this universe.

    1. Susan the other

      Yes and his degrowth dovetailed with the Aeon “Thanks for All the Fish.” Thomas Moynihan gave us a retrospective of human-supremacist ideologies – variously that our high, fine intelligence must have evolved elsewhere in the universe… so where is it? And all we hear is crickets. Calling into question what exactly is so high and fine? All the philosophers quoted were of a former generation – not really up on the latest findings of cosmology: The universe is inexplicably expanding at a steadily accelerating pace. A controlled universal chain reaction? Entropy has always been so conservative, dissipating energy in just the right amounts to foster new forms of “life” but not enough to cause mini supernovae. Whereas we humans have a certain impatience. We want to colonize space asap. And we deny religiously that we are rapidly causing our own extinction. So did all those other high-fine intelligences in the universe also cause their own extinction? Seems to be the question. A good read. Kinda sad.

      1. Chauncey Gardiner

        “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds”…. —Robert Oppenheimer, theoretical physicist, quoting Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita, after he witnessed the first detonation of a nuclear weapon at the Trinity test site in NM on July 16, 1945. Interesting that the Bhagavad Gita (and Oppenheimer) used the plural. Given choice, author Douglas Adams’ dolphins alluded to in the title to the post appear to have the sounder approach from evolutionary, intellectual and moral perspectives.

  12. upstater

    Well the NC naysayers will be out in force today about the HSR tweet.

    Let it suffice to say that the exact same picture would be true for passenger rail in general for the US. The vast majority of Amtrak’s conventional fleet is 25+ years old and much beyond design life. New ROWs is needed.

    New conventional or HSR rights of way could be easily constructed if we’d hire Japan, China, France or Spain to do the job and disqualify any US consulting or engineering firm.

    Amtrak Joe and Pete Buttigieg will fail in this task…

    1. jefemt

      High speed rail graphic… that was so informative!

      It seems to me that graphic video circles back to all the comments and thoughts on China’s Grand Designs and territorial ’empiratives’ (Stoller and Fang)

      I certainly don’t know it, but I will make a wild-arsed guess that one could substitute in any significant infrastructure or institutional project or sector and one would see the same curves driven out as that of High Speed Rail.

      USA: Divided we fall

      China: United, we stand.

      Oh, we are exceptional all-righty!

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Much of the HSR counted in that link was not new lines, but upgraded existing lines (especially in Germany, UK and Italy). The UK only has one, small dedicated HSR line, and not a particularly fast stretch (the St. Pancras to Channel Tunnel link). But many of the main lines have been at least partially upgraded to match the lower levels of HSR speeds (i.e. 120mph/200kph or over).

      Japan built new HSR lines from the 1950’s because its existing network was narrow gauge and impossible to upgrade to modern standards. As most heavy goods are shifted by ship in Japan they have little need for goods transport by train. Similarly with South Korea. Taiwan never had much of a network so pretty much built one from scratch, although its easy in a country where nearly everyone lives on one flat narrow sliver on one side of the island. Spain built a new network mostly because the existing railways had incompatible gauges as they had been built independently by regional governments, and they were focused on regional capitals. It was as much a political decision as anything to create a new network centring on Madrid.

      For the US, it makes far more sense to invest heavily in electrifying and speeding up existing rail lines rather than trying to force through new ones. It might actually make sense to build more goods lines and use the better quality existing ones for high speed rail. Another upcoming option are battery powered high speed trains which could radically improve existing passenger lines without requiring major investment in electrification. This is the option being followed in Ireland, where low population density makes widespread electrification economically questionable.

      The Chinese network is staggering in its scale, but much of it is of questionable quality. Even 10 years ago I recall reading a number of engineering analyses suggesting that the low quality of Chinese concrete would lead to a significant decay in line speed over quite a short period (I haven’t seen any more recent studies). And many of the new lines no longer make much economic or environmental sense, they are all about politics and keeping concrete pouring.

      1. R

        Hi PK,

        The treatment of the UK in that infographic is bizarre. As you point out, we only have 70 miles or so of true dedictated high-speed line (186mph) linking the Channel Tunnel to London.

        However, there is no obvious trigger for including the UK in the 1990’s. The Intercity 125 high speed services run at 125mph and have been running since the 70’s. The world’s fastest regular passenger diesel service! There were some changes in the 1990’s and onwards when the main lines were electrified (and the service rebadged Intercity 225 by switching to kph, a cheap upgrade!). The tilting Pendolinos were also introduced. But it is essentially the same mixed traffic network as before. So we should either be at the beginning with Japan or still off the bottom of the chart.

        My guess is they are using a generous definition of high speed rail to avoid hurting the US’s feelings.

        1. oliverks

          I am wondering why the UK doesn’t invest in advanced train carriages with active suspension. It would allow trains to go much faster (perhaps 170mph) and they could use their existing rail stock.

          This would also allow the new carriages to be built in the uk, bring in needed jobs. The technology could also be exported to other countries.

          This would be a heck of a lot cheaper than the HS2, and we could have it sooner.

          1. R

            We did. We literally invented it, with the Advanced Passenger Train programme in the 70’s. Unfortunately the first demonstration run in the early 80’s had a seized actuator, the active suspension froze and the journalists all felt sick. Cue ribbing in the tabloids and a ministerial reverse ferret. We sold the project to the Italians who got it working and sold it back to us as the Pendelino in the 90’s.


            Even if ATP had been a tactical success it would have been a strategic failure. The UK does not have a national rail network. It has between four and ten regional networks, balkanised by the engineering decisions of their Victorian promoters. Brunel was made to switch from broad gauge to standard gauge but other choices, especially on electrification (overhead or third rail), dynamic loading gauge (only the Grand Central which planned to cross the Channel in an Edwardian tunnel has UIC loading gauge like EU and can take trains with a wide kinematic envelope), signalling, minimum curve radius, gradient etc. The networks are all originated in London and their termini are not linked! Finally, the mainline capacity into these termini is choked with local London commuter traffic. Any high speed network in the UK needs to create dedicated lines ex-Londom for at least 100 miles, freeing up paths on the commuter lines for better local services and enabling fast frequent HST services into London. Once out of London, the trains could use upgraded traditional mainline and tilting to maintain a good proportion of their top speed on dedicated track. Without dedicated lines on the London approaches, the service pattern for a profitable HST operation is impossible.

            Oh, and in answer to OP below, the UK definitely has trains blowing through commuter stations at 125mph. Stand behind the yellow line! This does not happen on the continent where high speed running is segregated onto dedicated lines.

      2. upstater

        PK, the rail network in the US is privately owned and is primarily for “land barge” freight trains that are 2.5 miles long and weigh 12-15,000 tons. The travel at 40 MPH. Trying to run passenger trains on such a network is infeasible.

        Where I live the New York state DOT completed a draft environmental impact statement a decade ago for Obama stimulus money to add a third track to the CSX line from Albany to Buffalo, an area with 5+ million people. It took 4 years to add 10 miles of second track near Albany. Back in the day, New York Central had a 4 track mainlineand ran passenger trains at 100 MPH with steam locomotives. CSX has successfully bottled up the EIS for a decade using its lobbyists in DC with the US DOT. This behavior is repeated all over the country.

        It is true a lot of Europe’s HSR is on upgraded lines. But curves are straightened, tunnels bored and dedicated trackage built. In the US the Acela blows by crowded commuter platforms at 110MPH on double track lines. Maybe this happens in Europe. But I Kind of doubt it is typical. In California, the Sacramento-Oakland-San Jose trains run at 40 MPH and meander through city streets.

        I disagree that having electrified HSR passenger ROWs outside of urban areas, avoiding freight railroads is not feasible. Anybody that has driven the corridors from the northeast to Florida or Texas knows how congested roads are. It the upper midwest or west coast. They are choked with trucks and cars. Freight railroads will never electrify becaue they have a quarterly time horizon and not decades. Hydrogen or battery locomotives? Only if Elon Musk gets grant money.

        In Russia, freight is primarily moved by rail on an electrified network on short trains run at passenger speeds. Russian railways are a model for mixed freight and passenger. We’ll see if China’s HSR collapses; I do not share your view

        Amtrak Joe and Pete will fail utterly, as did Obama.

        1. GF

          I think freight railways are already electrified in the USA:
          “For a large Diesel Locomotive, the power involved near about 4,500 HP makes a Gearbox impractical. So these big machines are driven by electric motors both, AC and DC, driving each wheel. The engine drives an Alternator. The Torque/Speed Characteristics are matched by solid state power electronics. The right amount of voltage and current is delivered to the wheels, matching the load on the train and the speed set by the locomotive engineer.”

          1. upstater

            Wrong… their primary propulsion is a diesel engine driving an electric generator, which powers the wheels.

            This is not the same as drawing AC current from overhead wires, which is far more efficient than a diesel electric locomotive.

    3. Maxwell Johnston

      I was surprised to see that the USA made the chart at all. I rode on the Acela several times 10 or so years ago, and although the wagons were new the only speeds remotely approaching European HSR were in Connecticut (and very briefly). Has there been an expansion and upgrade since then?

  13. FreeMarketApologist

    Re Camera “…to enable Google to have a good face shot for snooping purposes…

    At the minimum, to build up their databases of faces for AI and other research purposes for free. Because we love giving away valuable information to billionaires. And, yes, it will also end up being used by many for snooping purposes.

    Because it’s on your phone, they will be able to tag photos with your unique identifying information. In the cases where you’re taking a picture of somebody else [*], Google will also be able to build a social network graph.

    [*] new party game: “Let’s see if you’re closer to the Mona Lisa or DeKooning’s Woman I

      1. ambrit

        It’s too eerily prescient. Isherwood’s “I Am A Camera” updated for ‘Moderne Times.’
        If life is a cabaret, then we are entering Act Two?

          1. ambrit

            Agreed. I’d expand that to show how America is now beginning to look like a plot from Genet.

  14. icancho

    “Kingsnakes = nonvenomous.”

    Kingsnakes are indeed non-venomous, but they eat rattlesnakes. Perhaps that’s the idea.

    1. ambrit

      Agreed. We had a “pet” kingsnake when we lived out in the wilds of Louisiana. They keep all other venomous snakes out of their territory. It would let the children play as close as three or four feet from it. (I’ve seen this.) It was almost like a House Guardian. (It lived underneath the well pump house.)
      America can design and build aircraft fit for purpose. We have done it in the past.
      It really takes an act of political bravery to return to this system. Many people understand what “has to be done.”
      One fanciful idea I read years ago was for someone “official” to have the putting of corporate profit ahead of “National Security” made a capital offense. I can guarantee that, eventually, if no one “official” will do this, someone or group of someones will.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Their greed knows no limit,

          I’ve seen estimates of how much money Truman saved that are in the realm of $250 billion in today’s dolllars, and that was America was sooooo patriotic.

  15. Ep3

    So first, his idea is to have another insurance product that ppl have to buy, automatic stabilizer insurance i guess, that would kick in if they lose their jobs. we did so well with the health insurance debate….. How would that work? In health insurance the sicker pay more. So if i switch jobs more than Elon musk, he pays a lower rate than i do? I mean, we all know poor ppl have great work histories! (*Sarcasm*). So those that need the help more have to pay more out of their pockets. Which would mean those that work in small businesses, which open and close frequently, would suffer most. Great plan!
    Then: says Korinek. “Unemployment insurance, for example, lasts for a brief period of time and covers only a fraction of lost income.” So raise the amount ppl receive in unemployment and food stamps? Because no one will complain that “ppl are staying home bcuz they get paid better to stay home than goto work”. Besides the stupidity behind that statement (your economy is so messed up that working does not provide for your basic necessities), luckily no one is complaining right now about ppl staying home instead of going to work, because they get paid more to stay home & draw unemployment & food stamps.
    says Korinek, “were distributed through the unemployment insurance computer systems, which are so antiquated”. You know why? Because some states have been in financial crisis for decades & keeping the lights on was more important than updating computers. Oh, and ppl=lazy, computer problems = frustration, frustration=ppl give up trying, thus saving govt money. But hey, those states deserve what they get, right! They are evil blue states.
    “lacked established banking relationships were left out.” YAY Bank fees! We never miss an opportunity to give banks their cut. Also, statements before this makes the author sound as if he knows nothing about Americans. Then again in the next section. Americans have had these backup plans in the past. But they have been gutted/eliminated by other administrations in the name of freedom/self-reliance/etc etc etc.

  16. t hardy

    Want to give a shout for the outstanding Canadian documentary
    “Haiti Betrayed” (currently available for rent on vimeo).
    It details the horrific Canadian and US involvement in the entire mess as well the mere handful of wealthy Haitian families e.g. Boulos who have strangled the country throughout its more recent history.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “Tesla cars banned from China’s military complexes on security concerns -sources”

    Seems no biggie this. As it says in the article, if you have a Tesla in China, you leave it outside any base in a car parking lot. Elon Musk was quoted as saying “…if Tesla used the cars to spy in China – or anywhere, any country – we will get shut down everywhere,” adding that there is “a very strong incentive for us to be very confidential with any information.” Well, I’m convinced. If you can’t take the word of a high-tech billionaire, who can you believe?

    1. diptherio

      Oh, I thought the “security concerns” were more about possibilities like a Tesla on auto-pilot ramming itself into a munitions warehouse.

  18. Wukchumni

    I’m proud to announce the launch of NFTcoin, limited addition hybrid cryptocurrency/cryptoart combining rarity & beauty in pixel of what appears to be a kosher pickle, or maybe a dill. Get in on the ground floor of gherkinvestment!

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, I can believe a dill-

      Australian slang-

      (n) Someone who consistently performs unbelievable acts of stupidity.

      eg. “You just spent all your money on an NFT, you dill!”

      Come to think of it, is it possible to do a NFT on a NFT? Hmmmmm. Ka-ching?

      1. ambrit

        Oh my. This is beginning to look like a ‘long lost’ episode of “Tales From the Crypt.”
        This week’s episode: “The Non-thing that wouldn’t live!”

      2. Carla

        The only dills I invest in are Bubbies Kosher Dills — and at $9 a quart, they’re an investment! But a delicious one. They started out in San Francisco and are now made in Canada.

  19. Nels Nelson

    The Baffler story “Vacuous Valor” about Madison Cawthorne mentioned a slew of mendacious politicians past and present who misled or outright lied to the public about military service and honors. Nowhere in the story did I see Pete Buttigieg mentioned.

    As to Cawthorne, he seems to be nothing more than a garden variety sociopath that make up a majority of the population of politicians.

  20. PlutoniumKun

    This Is the F-36 Kingsnake. It Could Be the Air Force’s Next Fighter Jet Popular Mechanics. Resilc: “Kingsnakes = nonvenomous.”

    Whats not mentioned in the article is that this is resulting from the failure of the F-35. Its increasingly obvious that the Air Force/Navy has decided that the F-35 is simply too expensive and too much of a Hanger Queen to replace all the aircraft it was supposed to replace, and due to excessive use the lifespan of most existing aircraft is rapidly shrinking. There is only so far the F-16/F-18/F-15 platforms can be extended usefully (they are all coming up to the half century in age). Therefore, they need something quick and fast to fill in the gaps.

    After a similar series of screw-ups by the US Navy, having failed with the Littoral Combat Ships and the new Zumwalt destroyer, they finally made a sensible decision and just bought an off-the-shelf design, the French/Italian FREMM Frigate to fill in the gaps. Needless to say, they fudged things to avoid the embarrassment of buying French (they renamed it the Constellation Class).

    There is a lot of speculation on military aviation forums that the same thing will have to be done for the F-35 – i.e. buy in an existing design. The problem is that the obvious candidate for a high quality, relatively cheap and proven design for a multipurpose fighter/attack aircraft is the French Dassault Rafale. The French I’m sure would be delighted to sell (at un bon prix) all the tooling and designs so it could be set up in the districts of key Congresscritters and Senators. No doubt it will be renamed and plastered with Stars and Stripes to hide its origins.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Won’t be the first time. Personally, I think they need to switch out everything to T-6 Texans (which are badge-engineered Swiss Pilatus PC9s) for hauling our service academy suet about. Perhaps Pompeo would have been a bit less eager to bounce around the globe if he had to fly in one instead of a Gulfstream.

    2. David

      That’s almost certainly the right answer (and I’ve always though it would have been a better option than the F35 for the UK carriers). But don’t forget the procurement disaster of the (Augusta-Westland) US101.

  21. The Rev Kev

    “The Haunted Imagination of Alfred Hitchcock”

    ‘How the master of suspense got his sadistic streak’

    He certainly knew how to mess with people’s minds. One time he stepped into a crowded elevator going down while talking to a friend. So he relates how he came home early and found his wife in bed with another guy and goes into some detail. Of course everybody in the elevator is straining their ears to hear all the juicy details. The friend asks what he did so Hitchcock calmly states – just as the elevator doors open – that what else could he do but to shoot their heads off with a shotgun and leaving an elevator full of stunned people.

    1. Wukchumni

      The most unnerving thing one could do pre-Covid, is when an elevator door opened for you and the cramped windowless room is crammed with people and only enough space for another person or 2, is to enter said elevator facing all the people and not the door, as you head up or down.

      Its ok to be a space invader if you’re too close to the back of somebody’s head in an elevator, but turn it around and be just a foot away face to face, and everybody gets real uneasy all of the sudden…

    2. Jeff W

      I don’t know if Hitchcock had several “elevator stories” or not but here’s the version that Peter Bogdanovich tells:

      My own favorite memory of Hitchcock comes from an incident at the St. Regis Hotel in New York in 1964. After some frozen daiquiris had left me a bit tipsy and Hitch quite red-faced and cheerful, we got on the elevator at the 25th floor and rode in silence to the 19th, where, when three people dressed for the evening entered, he suddenly turned to me and said, “Well, it was quite shocking, I must say there was blood everywhere!” I was confused, thinking that because of the daiquiris I’d missed something, but he just went right on: “There was a stream of blood coming from his ear and another from his mouth.” Of course, everyone in the elevator had recognized him but no one looked over. Two more people from the 19th floor entered as he continued: “Of course, there was a huge pool of blood on the floor and his clothes were splattered with it. Oh! It was a horrible mess. Well, you can imagine…” It felt as if no one in the elevator, including me, was breathing. He now glanced at me, I nodded dumbly, and he resumed: “Blood all around! Well, I looked at the poor fellow and I said, “Good God, man, what’s happened to you?” And then, just as the elevator doors opened onto the lobby, Hitchcock said, “And do you know what he told me?” and paused. With reluctance, the passengers now all moved out of the elevator and looked anxiously at the director as we passed them in silence. After a few foggy moments, I asked, “So what did he say?” And Hitch smiled beatifically and answered, “Oh, nothing — that’s just my elevator story.”

      (You can see him relating it, in slightly different form, here.)

  22. semiconscious


    (7/7) This study provides yet more evidence that we do not fully understand what the long-term effects of contracting this virus might be.

    COVID-19 is really not “just a flu”, and we should not accept living with it.

    Elimination of COVID-19 should be our goal.

    — Dr Zoë Hyde (@DrZoeHyde) March 20, 2021

    more dr. zoe hyde:

    (17/22) I said that cases in children might be detectable for a shorter period. How can we get around that? One option is anal swab testing because faecal shedding is prolonged.
    A study in Wuhan found that about one-fifth of children had negative nasal swabs, but positive anal swabs.

    so: the road to ‘zero covid’ is to be littered with the anal swabs of our kids? alright, then…

    1. CuriosityConcern

      Well done finding the controversy, everything she says can now be dismissed with an out of context tweet about sensitive topic. You did drop a link to the whole context so credit for that.
      But let’s dive into the rest of the tweet you highlighted. It says 20% of children who were nasally swabbed tested negative in that modality but tested positive via the modality you object to. This means our(US) tracking numbers are completely family blogged. Precedence is probably way higher than currently thought and opening schools based on nasal swab numbers is profoundly misguided.
      Here is a wonderful piece of news from animal models only hours old:
      Variants that don’t need ACE2, source paper not peer reviewed yet.

      1. semiconscious

        so, you’re basically saying that, in the name of re-opening schools ‘safely’, you’re quite comfortable with this ‘option’ that she suggests?…

        because, if so, you’re simply answering my question in the affirmative…

        1. CuriosityConcern

          Apologize for snark in my first reply..

          I don’t have a horse hitched to either testing method, but if the anal swab method produces more accurate results than nasal, then our conception of the R and reinfection rates is compromised.

          I think physicians in the hospital setting trust their histories and review of symptoms over the nasal swab results, but the researchers have to go by empiric results.

          I’m not saying reopening schools hinges on anal tests, but I am saying our understanding of whether or not we are safe during reopening is now a crap shoot if anal is more accurate than nasal testing.(never in my life I thought I would compose that sentence)

          I’d allow my children

          1. Cuibono

            “and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.”

            1. CuriosityConcern

              Sewage testing is probably the happy “medium” to get accurate results but avoid intrusiveness.

      2. Susan the other

        I think I read that there are abundant ACE2 receptors in our gut; everywhere really. It’s just that oxygen is so critical to our immediate existence, when they are attacked in the lung and clog things up it can be a total emergency. What we need, speaking of new medicines, is an inhaler that gives a dose of some appropriate emulsifier to keep lungs functioning.

        1. CuriosityConcern

          My reading of that tweet summarization of research not yet peer reviewed is that they are seeing a COVID variant that is now independent of ACE2. which I gather from their commentary is more likely to spread among a larger population of non human animals, which means much larger reservoirs of virus. More opportunities for mutation and spread.
          I really hope I’m not the resident Cassandra.

        2. CuriosityConcern

          On second reading of your post, I think I more properly understand. GI system features that interact with virus would also yield test results because of those features.
          Sorry I didn’t get your point in my first response.

      3. kareninca

        Good grief. That wild mouse study is pretty scary:

        Prof. Akiko Iwasaki
        This is wild. The B.1.351 and P.1 variants infect and replicate in mice without the need for human ACE2! These mutations are not only enhancing transmission and antibody evasion but expanding host range. Work by

        That’s a lot more troubling than the anal swab thing.

    2. The Rev Kev

      ‘so: the road to ‘zero covid’ is to be littered with the anal swabs of our kids?’

      Not to worry. it will get them used to the idea of going through airport security as they grow older.

  23. Darthbobber

    Aah, the tweet on the China kerfuffle and the Stoller Russia/China one serve to remind me of what an utterly dismal state our supposed foreign policy has come to. Been there for awhile, actually.

    What Stoller thinks he means about the PRC fostering war I’m not sure, and he doesn’t explain. As far as Russia goes, he seems not incorrect, for all the good that’s going to do him.

    Before Libya and the Maidan aftermath, Russia would have been perfectly amenable to a cooperative relationship, as long as their immediate regional interests were respected. But that was not in the cards. And by now they have clearly decided (correctly, I think) that good relations with the US and its remaining allies are not available to be had for any price that a nation with any claim to sovereignty or status can afford to pay.

    To say that better relations with Russia are contingent on the surrender of the Crimea and acquiescence in the occupation by Ukraine of the Donbass is, in practice, to say that better relations with Russia are impossible, period. No possible Russian government will agree to such a thing short of defeat in war.

    Part of the blob’s problem is that these people got used to playing into an empty net in the aftermath of the USSR’s demise. No matter how feckless or risky their antics were there were a decent number of years where they couldn’t literally fail because no other team was on the pitch. The Georgia-South Ossetia war announced that this would not be the case going forward, but the failure to adjust to or accept that has been a constant ever since. Our people now think that its cheating if the other team actually fields a goalkeeper, and we’d like some “rules based” Laws of the Game” to make that clear.

    A couple of basics:
    1) By foregrounding demands that the counterparty absolutely will not accept (and with foreknowledge that they won’t, if you possess rudimentary reasoning powers) you make negotiation over the points that might be resolvable vastly more difficult. By deploying sanctions over those particular demands, you also destroy any leverage that your sanctions might possibly give you.

    2) Other than striking poses for the folks in Peoria, what is the point of including in your laundry list of complaints issues of internal governance that you are powerless to affect with any means you dare use?
    What, in practice, is the US willing to DO to achieve the results it claims to insist on in Crimea, in Hong Kong, in Tibet, etc? When all the poses have been struck, the Russians and Chinese remain real powers that have the ability to defend their own interests, and whose cooperation the United States really lacks the ability to safely do without.

    3) Our leadership seems to assume that harming or trying to harm an “adversary” is the same thing as benefitting yourself. It isn’t.

    4) The blob’s id has been out of control for a long while. I recall that after the Russian intervention in Syria was generally successful one of our always anonymous state dept experts was quoted as saying “You’ve got this country with an economy the size of Spain’s strutting around like its won something.” I thought the nature of the rant seemed familiar, and after scratching my head for a bit, I realized that its the same sort of rational, dispassionate appraisal you get from a Duke or KU fan after their team gets sent home by one of the less favored schools. I suspect that this thinking, if it can be called that, is pretty endemic. And it is obviously the enemy of anything like rational statecraft.

    1. flora

      an aside:
      When Ukraine took its independence from the Russia in 1991 it still had a large nuclear missile capacity from it’s old Soviet days. It was persuaded by to give up the nuclear armaments in exchange for promises from the US, Britain, and Russia to guard and guarantee it’s independence. See the Budapest Memorandum.

      That didn’t work out the way Ukraine leaders thought it would. Giving over its security to three nuclear powers with different interests, in exchange for an only unenforceable promises, resulted in what it’s enduring today, imo. See: the Blob.

        1. flora

          Doesn’t the neocon Blob swing both parties’ ways (bi-partisan!), depending on which party seems the most useful for their ends at the moment? /heh

          1. Darthbobber

            No, not that kind of party. “United States policy is to do to Russia what it did to the Ukraine” is ambiguous as to whether “it” refers to the United States or Russia. I was seeking clarification as to which was the intended meaning.

          1. Darthbobber

            My question was whether “it” in that sentence referred to the US or Russia, not what American political cabal was responsible.

  24. KLG

    “Sometimes, I wonder what is happening to my profession”

    No, you don’t. You know what is happening, Doc. I teach first- and second-year medical students, 80% of whom will go into primary care (the largest fraction into Internal Medicine). While leading small group discussions of the biochemistry, physiology, and endocrinology of diabetes, I do walk a fine line when bringing up the destruction of the practice of medicine in favor of a neoliberalized business of medicine run by “Private Equity,” Big Pharma, and metastatic hospital monopolies. But I do it nevertheless, and diabetes is a good entry portal. IIRC Banting and Best sold their patent on insulin to the University of Toronto for one Canadian dollar. Diabetics now die of diabetic ketoacidosis when their GoFundMe campaign to pay for their insulin fails. Yes, I know that various insulin analogs have been developed that make the treatment of diabetes more precise, but still. Not too long ago while talking to a very accomplished internist I noted that the medical profession was the one profession in the USA that could have resisted the takeover of the healing arts by the “MBA.” This physician agreed. But it still happened…too much is not enough?

    Regarding ivermectin, more of the same. I have been astonished that no physician of my acquaintance will admit that the two rushed mRNA vaccines are simple experiments, performed on the entire human population (that has “access” to the vaccines). Necessary experiments, but experiments nevertheless. More of the Medical Education Industrial Complex imperative to “just tell the medical students what they need to know“? I think so. When I note that if we do that, what is to stop Pfizer from telling them what they need to know, beginning during their intern year? Crickets.

  25. Wukchumni

    Biden seems more @ home on a train, but you can’t really get there from here (I liked how we made an ever so brief encounter in the high speed railroad video, and then left the chart almost as quickly) and yeah it’s painful to watch your President tripping balls trying to walk up some stairs while clearly not under the influence of reefer, but drunk with power.

  26. Phillip Cross

    Remember Walter White from Breaking Bad?

    Imagine how easy his life would have been if he could sell an expensive NFT jpg* to his customers, instead of that whole car wash rigmarole!

    *Includes a free pound of meth.

    1. Mikel

      The digital overlords have everyone duped.
      They want everyone to believe THEY are the masters of all creativity and nothing anyone else creates or makes has no instrinsic value.
      It’s a power grab that doesn not empower anyone.

  27. Wukchumni

    Big fan of immersing in not quite scalding water and our favorite drive-to one-Saline Valley hot springs in Death Valley NP has had the source water turned off by NPS for a year now, but now they’ve relented and its game on, albeit with mandatory mask wearing…

    Question: Can Covid spread via mutually shared 105 degree water?

    Wonderhussy rides a chopper in…

  28. Synoia

    The High Speed Rail development by country (1976-present)

    The Italian number look very low. I’ve traveled on what I believed high speed trains in Italy from Venice to Naples, somewhere between 400 and 450 miles.

  29. JacobiteInTraining

    Something worth pointing out in regards the Atlanta killings, now that the racism angle is slowly but surely moving towards the sex-trafficking angle – almost everything you read about hyperbolic ‘sex-trafficking’ stories is complete and utter BS:

    “…Reminder that all the horrible claims about the spa that Robert Kraft was busted at turned out to be lies. And the only charges ever filed were prostitution charges against the women. Keep this in mind as claims circulate about these Atlanta spas…”(Beskar Hal tweet quote)

    And another example – which for various reasons hits quite close to my home, and for which I can attest the journalism & research is spot-on: “…It was shocking, scandalous, horrifying. Yet almost none of it is true…”

    As is nearly always the case when the dust settles in these hyped up police narratives – the only ones with charges that stick, or were even filed in the first place: prostitution charges against all the women.

    You know…the women who were supposedly the victims – the ones who the big bad brave State Agents rushed right in to ‘save’. And promptly put up on charges, once they put their white-knight steeds back into the stable, and doffed their shining armor.

    With friends like that…who needs enemies.

    1. flora

      Thanks for this link! It’s so interesting to watch. I’m sending the link to some friends.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Whoa! Great link that. It’s almost hypnotic watching all that lava surge and splash their way from those vents.

  30. Roxan

    Re the Daily Mail article about Kensington. That area has been going down hill for years but I never imagined it getting this bad. It used to be a shopping and transportation hub for a working class area with numerous factories. Even in the early 1970s, many were still functioning; this is what happens when there is no work. Everyone who could leave, did. Also, that area was burned and looted last summer, which probably finished off whatever businesses still existed. Philly seems to be going the way of Detroit. The Inquirer has articles, this week, about bus drivers being afraid of violence and possibly going on strike.

  31. Sardonia

    Fun first article – “Dolphin Intelligence and Humanity’s Cosmic Future”.

    THE question for SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence), is “Why can’t we find them?” Two hypotheses presented here:

    1 – Science and Technology (on Evolutionary timelines) are just a temporary phase of Species Intelligence, only to attain sustainability, at which point, no need to look for, or send out, radio signals around the galaxy or create new technologies. Instead, an intelligent species will transition to a Zen-like state, immersed in Nature.

    2 – WE are the only intelligent species that exists, and the Universe compels us to spread everywhere and colonize and keep evolving.

    I’d call the options “The Way of Zen” or “The Way of Elon Musk”.

    1. Synoia

      “Why can’t we find them?”

      Based on our use of our planet, I ask how could one believe that Intelligence as we practice it is an evolutionary advantage (Resource depletion and waste)?

      The dinosaurs had a good run. I doubt we, the “Intelligent,” will have such a run.

      An exodus from this planet by adult humans is very unlikely. T0 get three men in moon orbit took over Two Million gallons of Kerosene.

      1. Sardonia

        Well, the famous Drake Equation assumed that a significant percentage of evolving, intelligent, technological species in the Universe would exterminate themselves early on in their technological development, but it’s not inevitable.

        These issues have to be viewed not in terms of decades or centuries, but rather over tens or hundreds of thousands of years. A relatively short era of resource depletion and waste is a given. It’s what happens if and after intelligent sustainability is achieved that’s being pondered here.

        Just like you can’t gauge a person’s lifetime based upon what he did for 2 seconds when he was 3 months old, you can’t gauge what the human species can become based upon what it did for a few centuries upon first developing technology in what is still Humanity’s infancy.

    2. fresno dan

      March 20, 2021 at 2:00 pm
      Something of a bombshell dropped last night in the world of the United States military and its relationship with unidentified aerial phenomenon (UAP or UFOs) on Fox News. Maria Bartiromo had John Ratcliffe, the former Trump administration Director of National Intelligence on to talk about the upcoming report from the Pentagon’s UAP Task Force, but she wound up getting more she bargained for. In the middle of the discussion, Ratcliffe, in an almost casual fashion, calmly announced that there are “quite a few more” military encounters with these unexplained craft than have been made public. He then went on to confess that we don’t understand the technology behind them. He also gave the impression that he was dismissing the idea that the Russians or the Chinese could be responsible. In short, he didn’t say the words “non-human intelligence”
      As Ratcliffe is a Trump appointee, I don’t know if he is considered serious, or was a political appointee placed to MAGA. I have a difficult time believing such phenomena represent intelligent extraterrestrial life, but I will check out the report (if such a report is actually released)

      1. ambrit

        I have said this before, but I imagine that all of the “close encounters” are the equivalent of alien xenoethnology graduate students having some “fun with the natives.”
        If Terran human fiction writers can come up with the ‘Prime Directive,’ then advanced alien intelligences can do the same.
        Prime Directive:

    3. Henry Moon Pie

      “spread everywhere and colonize and keep evolving”

      This was the “Destiny” of Octavia Butler’s Earthseed, a religion created by her lead character in the Parable science fiction series. Butler, now deceased, has been re-discovered during Covid because of her spot-on intuition about how the 2030s might look like in the Parable books, written in the 90s.

      You are Earthseed!
      And your Destiny,
      The Destiny of Earthseed,
      Is to take root
      Among the stars.

      While I think Butler was visionary in seeing how the religions we’ve had around for a while seem completely incapable of being a help in our current circumstances, and her process theology approach is unobjectionable, this space exploration and colonization seem pretty off-key to me now. Why should we aim to spread our destruction elsewhere? Do we really believe in evolution? If so, it should be pretty obvious just how impossible it would be for us to colonize another planet beyond a few people living in domes.

      Now your Mr. Musk would probably like to tell us about geoforming. It’s true that we’re currently demonstrating our power as a species to geoform. It’s just that we’re changing the planet on which we evolved into something that will be unlivable for us. But I’m sure Elon can iron all that out.

      But Butler was saying fundamentally right in saying that we’re going to need some kind of Grand Purpose to pull us out of this social dissolution. Now, in the 2020s, it’s pretty obvious what that must be.

      1. ambrit

        “Now, in the 2020s, it’s pretty obvious what that must be.”
        No, it is not obvious at all. People have been conditioned to be ‘oblivious’ and ‘conforming’ to social norms. Those norms are driven by partisan ideology, religion, class association, etc.
        “..what that must be,” is going to have to be ‘engineered’ into the mass consciousness of the public.
        In other words, Politics is a survival skill.

  32. fresno dan
    The reports and data are coming out of the woodwork from all directions. Oxfam said that the combined wealth of the world’s top 10 billionaires has skyrocketed by $540 billion since the crisis began. GOBankingRates came up with a list of the biggest gainers in net worth between March 18, 2020, and October 7. The Americans on this list:

    Jeff Bezos (+$72.6 billion);
    Elon Musk (+$63.3 billion);
    Mark Zuckerberg (+$42.1 billion);
    MacKenzie Scott (+$23.6 billion);
    Steve Ballmer (+$18.5 billion);
    Larry Ellison (+$19.9 billion);
    Nike founder Phil Knight & Family (+$19.8 billion);
    Bill Gates ($17.8 billion); Michael Dell (+$15.6 billion)
    The Fed’s measure of “wealth” includes the value of cars, dishwashers, furniture, smartphones, and other consumer durable goods that people have. But durable goods are not assets that earn a return or grow in value. They’re consumption items, and their value shrinks over time to zero or salvage value.

    Per capita at the bottom 50%, the value of durable goods averages $8,920 per person, or nearly 60% of their total wealth. That portion of their wealth cannot earn a return or grow in value.

    Their wealth related to actual assets that can earn a return is just $6,140 per person of the bottom 50%. These crumbs may be inadvertently increased by the Fed’s asset bubble. So if asset prices surge by 20% across the board, the bottom 50% would pocket just $1,228, while someone worth $2 billion would pocket $400 million.
    The Fed’s measure of “wealth” includes the value of cars, dishwashers, furniture, smartphones, and other consumer durable goods that people have. But durable goods are not assets that earn a return or grow in value. They’re consumption items, and their value shrinks over time to zero or salvage value.
    Saving America’s economy = making America’s billionaires richer. Funny how saving the economy works…

  33. Tom Doak

    I visited Nairobi two years ago, so the story on “The Original Karen” was fascinating.

    The one thing it totally left out was the presence of the United Nations in Nairobi and Kenya today. The U.N.’s base for its work in Africa is in the richer suburbs of Nairobi, and they seemed to have a huge influence on everything that’s happening there now. Odd to leave them out of the picture entirely.

  34. occasional anonymous

    >Beware of Books! Persuasion

    Look, if this means all the woke want to get rid of their (or more likely, their dead uncle’s) old Easton Press, Franklin Library, etc, volumes for cheap, I’ll be happy to oblige them.

  35. The Rev Kev

    “Beware of Books!”

    ‘A new moralism is gripping the literary world, treating grownups like children’

    Mark Twain once said that ‘Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it’ and that is what this is – censorship. It is saying this book you may not read and that work we will not let you see. And we will decide for you as only we have the judgement to do so. China is infamous in that Christians have to resort to smuggling bibles into that country but how long will it be before computer files of books (text files only) have to be secretly sent over the internet for people to read as they are no longer printed or have been removed from sale such as some of the Dr. Seuss books? How long until sites such as Project Gutenberg came under fierce attacks for containing books that are ‘irredeemable’ with demands that they be blocked from the internet. This is much worse than a Mrs Grundy, much worse – more like a Ms Grundy on hyperdrive removing history and literature from a culture until culture itself has been reduced to a bland safe space (with colour-in books provided). But as Robert Heinlein once said – “A generation which ignores history has no past — and no future.”

    1. flora

      And to think ol’ Pres. Harry Truman (D) once said to Congress:

      “Once a government is committed to the principle of silencing the voice of opposition, it has only one way to go, and that is down the path of increasingly repressive measures, until it becomes a source of terror to all its citizens and creates a country where everyone lives in fear.”

      – Special Message to the Congress on the Internal Security of the United States, August 8, 1950

      That was then….

  36. Cuibono

    People arguing for elimination of covid need to put down the glue bong. Sure a worthy goal. and also not even remotely possible give multiple species of animal hosts .

  37. The Rev Kev

    “Ontario to (finally) pull the plug on fax machines in public service”

    When asked what people really needed, Officer Joe Friday replied: ‘Just the fax, ma’am.’

  38. skippy

    Out of all the perspectives about China above thread I can’t get the C-130 out of my head, tourist attraction mothball, how many years ago was that …

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