Links 3/27/2021

Beverly Cleary, Beloved Children’s Book Author, Dies at 104 New York Times (David L)

I Have Come to Bury Ayn Rand Nautilus (Anthony L)

Scientists Pin Down When Earth’s Crust Cracked, Then Came to Life Quanta (Anthony L)

The ancient fabric that no one knows how to make BBC (UserFriendly). Paging Jerri…..

We are at a crossroads in the search for a new physics Aeon (Anthony L)

Native Americans tried to help the starving Donner Party, research shows. They faced gunshots. California Sun (Anthony L)

Invisible killer’: fossil fuels caused 8.7m deaths globally in 2018, research finds Guardian

Solar Geoengineering Should be Investigated, Scientists Say Scientific American. UserFriendly:

Honestly there is about a zero percent chance no one pulls the trigger on this once the shit starts hitting the fan, which is all but guaranteed to happen soon.

The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet Politico

Top scientists warn of ‘ghastly future of mass extinction’ and climate disruption Guardian (UserFriendly)

Did the Black Death Rampage Across the World a Century Earlier Than Previously Thought? Smithsonian Magazine

Pop-Tarts, Rice Krispies Treats, Cheez-Its contain preservative that may harm immune system, study says USA Today (David L)



Interferon Resistance of Emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variants bioRxiv (UserFriendly)

How a coronavirus variant tore into an English island – and the world Reuters (resilc)

Control of the global pandemic is a balance between achieving population immunity (vaccines, natural infection) and containing/suppressing/eliminating the virus through public health measures (find, test, trace, isolate, behaviour change). Lockdowns are a sign of failure. (1) Anthony Costello, Threadreader (guurst)


New Jersey gym celebrated by Fox News is offering free memberships to people who refuse to take a COVID-19 vaccine Business Insider (Kevin W)

COVID-19 vaccines are $500 on the dark web Boing Boing (resilc)

Democrats call for $1bn shift from weapons of mass destruction to ‘vaccine of mass prevention’ Guardian. Resilc: “A billion = a pint of warm spit.”

North Korea’s new missile a strategic game-changer Asia Times (Kevin W)

Old Blighty

Why the Deloitte clause for drafting ministerial answers is a further assault on civil service norms David Allan Green (guurst)


Brexit Impact Report UK Meat Industry (guurst)

SNP Civil War

Former Scottish first minister Salmond launches pro-independence party Reuters (resilc)

Alex Salmond to take Scottish government back to court Politico (UserFriendly)


The War in Iraq Exposed Huge Flaws in American Strategic Thinking National Interest. Resilc: “Big assumption that they think at all.”

Hawkish Iran letter falls flat in the Senate Responsible Statecraft

Unlikely kingmaker Mansour Abbas is playing for the pot YNet (resilc)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Blow Up the Global Trading System Clyde Prestowitz, Washington Monthly. Prestowitz is a former USTR. Subhead: “Yes, really. U.S. and international efforts to stop Beijing’s economic onslaught haven’t worked. It’s time for President Biden to go big.”

In Quest of a Multi-Polar World Consortium News. Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar.

Pentagon Official Says Moving Troops Out of Somalia Had ‘Significant Downsides’ Antiwar. Resilc: “For their careers and combat pay.”


Border Crossings by Migrant Children to Rise Sharply, U.S. Estimates Show Wall Street Journal

Biden spokesperson Jen Psaki worked for Israeli spy firm Electronic Intifada (resilc)

Georgia voting overhaul provokes fury from Democrats The Hill

Gov. Kemp defends Georgia election bill criticized as ‘Jim Crow in 21st century’ New4Jax

The Right Created Boot Camps for Destroying Democracy and Voting Rights Jacobin (furzy)

Is Democracy Still Possible? Los Angeles Review of Books (Anthony L)


Gov. Andrew Cuomo Aides Receive Subpoenas in Sexual-Harassment Investigation Wall Street Journal. Linking to them because it looks like they broke the story.


Federal Bump Stock Ban Blocked by Divided Appeals Court BloombergLaw (Dr. Kevin)

At Least 36% of Mass Shooters Have Been Trained By the U.S. Military CounterPunch (resilc)

Woke Watch

US tensions with China risk fueling anti-Asian harassment at home The Hill. I am old enough to recall the loud and repeated demonization of the French by many prominent government officials after France not only refused to join the Iraq War “coalition of the willing” but had the temerity to clear their throat as to why. Some French restaurants in NYC closed as a result of the decline in business but I don’t recall any incidents of violence against French nationals.

Our Famously Free Press

Congress, in a Five-Hour Hearing, Demands Tech CEOs Censor the Internet Even More Aggressively Glenn Greenwald

Stuck Ship

Suez Canal: Sisi is a danger not only to Egypt, but to the world Middle East Eye (Chuck L)

For current status, see: Is that ship still stuck?

111 Texans Died In Last Month’s Shock Winter Storm, State Says Forbes (resilc) :-(

WeWork agrees $9 billion SPAC merger to finally get stock market listing Reuters

The Australian underwriter who provided Greensill Capital’s lifeline Financial Times. UserFriendly: “David Cameron broke the law against lobbying he implemented. For this clusterf***. What a moron.”

Amazon argues it’s not liable for product that severely injured toddler ars technica (resilc)

Student loans: How much the government collects each year. Slate (resilc)

Class Warfare

Amazon takes a page out of Trump’s playbook, accusing critics of spreading ‘alternative facts’ and picking fights with politicians on Twitter Business Insider (Kevin W)

Fast Food Giant Claims Credit For Killing $15 Minimum Wage Walker Bragman, Andrew Perez, and David Sirota

The Amazon Union Vote Is Ending in Bessemer. Workers Are Already Preparing for the Next Fight. New Republic

Twitter is playing serious games. Local TV had clips of Bernie Sanders speaking in Bessemer. So I went to Twitter and searched on “Bessemer Bernie”. The first tweet that came up was the one below, from Sanders’ account featuring Killer Mike. I like Killer Mike so I listened to it and was about to grab the embed code. The feed suddenly refreshed. Even though I scrolled down to view >60 tweets, I didn’t see the Killer Mike tweet. I had noticed Sanders’ account had tweeted it, so I went to find it there. I put in Bernie Sanders, but not in quotes, and Twitter did NOT offer dropdown with links to individual accounts, as in particular a link to Sanders account, even after I switched from the “News” header to “People.” But I did get the expected dropdown when I tried Russell Brand, Adam Schiff, and Joe Manchin. And I follow Sanders!!!!

An unholy union: “With a struggling economy and few work prospects, Bessemer, Alabama, has been called an “unlikely” place for an epic union battle with Amazon. They don’t know Bessemer.” Vox. Not buying it. The South is very religious; one of our aides calls her company God Sent Me 4 U. However, Birmingham is a post Civil War iron and steel town. Unions were important until they went under attack in the Reagan era. There’s a lot of labor muscle memory here.

Virtually No One in US Is Dangerous Enough to Justify Jail Consortiumnews (UserFriendly)

Vive Madame Roland! Aeon (Anthony L)

Antidote du jour. An almost-Easter bunny. Tracie H:

The lighting could be better, and maybe it’d be nice to see the little bunny’s face, but I loved he was on his back feet, and that lovely red stripe! Plus, he wouldn’t turn around for me.

And a bonus (resilc):

Another bonus (guurst, Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Bill Smith

    Solar Geoengineering Should be Investigated, Scientists Say


    Along somewhat similar lines, a number of countries are playing with increasing their rainfall. Which, I would guess, decreases someone else’s rainfall?

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      Watching these humans screw around with the Earth is analogous to watching a pack of funky monkeys playing with an armed nuke.

      1. Bryan A

        I think we might actually be getting some free solar geoengineering this year, with all the volcanic activity we’ve been having.

    2. UserFriendlyyy

      Which, I would guess, decreases someone else’s rainfall?

      Possibly but not necessarily. There are a bunch of factors that go into how much moisture is in the air; air temp, ocean water temp, but the biggest factor is wind speed over the oceans (another way to think about it is that the air right over the ocean is always as humid as it can be and the faster you can swap it out with dry air the more water gets evaporated, or why fans dry things). Then you need nucleation, which is generally what they use to try and seed extra rainfall usually some Iodine salt oddly enough. The nucleation and rainfall processes will decrease the moisture and increase temperature of that air. But the reason it is hard to say is that temperature and pressure differentials are what change wind speeds so it is entirely possible that seeding rain just increases wind circulation enough to balance out

    3. Kurt Sperry

      At some point it’s unfortunately likely that the risks of geoengineering a kludge for AGW will be exceeded by the risks of not doing so. I think strictly following the precautionary principle is likely to lead to going well past that point.

    4. juno mas

      Yes. The environmental impact from cloud-seeding can be consequential. Although the effects of cloud-seeding to increase rainfall, snowfall or reduce hail size, etc. is, so far, considered to be statistically inconsequential. Weather (rainfall, etc.) is notoriously variable. So establishing a baseline and then the effect of seeding is difficult.

      Some form of cloud-seeding goes back to the 1800’s. The US military attempted to affect the impact of East Coast hurricanes in the 1960’s.

    5. Greg

      Mostly – there’s a fair bit of rain that otherwise falls at sea (more sea than land on this old bauble). Of course, if you divert that and then pollute the crap out of it (which we would) before it leaches back into the sea, you get some much saltier ocean and the eventual death of everything. Pretty much every dumb move at this point results in death of everything.

    6. Jeremy Grimm

      The link references a new publication available for free download as a pdf file from the National Academies Press (NAP) “Reflecting Sunlight: Recommendations for Solar Geoengineering Research and Research Governance (2021)”. After a quick look over that document I concluded its contents are primarily political, although I can fully fathom neither what underlying politics drove its creation nor what to expect. Phillip Mirowski predicted that Geoengineering was the endgame strategy for the Neoliberal response to Climate change:
      (slide from keynote lecture at the ‘Life and Debt’ conference available from youtube) minute 35:00
      Neoliberal Biopolitics
      1) Short-term holding action: Global warming denialism {agnotology}
      2) Intermediate term: immobilize more direct carbon emission abatement through elaborate carbon trading schemes.
      3) Long term utopian: Foster entrepreneurial attempts to restructure and re-engineer Nature through commercialized segment of scientists under science fiction scenarios of planet geoengineering.

      I believe it is still a little early for step #3. I expect carbon trading schemes will probably be folded into the US “Green New Deal” and given a run for the money. I suspect this report from the National Academy is part of an effort to ready the ground for geoengineering. I pulled a cute tid-bit from p. 26 of “Reflecting Sunlight…”: “In many settings, the pandemic has vividly illustrated the value of forward-looking research, a strong capacity for science-based decision making, and careful attention to risk analysis.”

  2. cnchal

    > Amazon takes a page out of Trump’s playbook, accusing critics of spreading ‘alternative facts’ and picking fights with politicians on Twitter Business Insider (Kevin W)

    When is Twitter going to ban Amazon for making shit up?

    Celine McNicholas, the director of government affairs at the Economic Policy Institute, told Insider Amazon likely denied the “pee bottle thing” in an effort to be seen as a progressive employer amid the Alabama union drive.

    “I think it is probably the only play that they have – to say this is not the reality,” McNicholas said. “Because the reality is shameful and disgusting.

    Mr Market is off his rocker. The fact that big guv subsidizes Amazon directly and by grossly overpaying them to store zeros and ones, those profits are used to susidize the torture chambers (news announcers call then the new middle class jawbs, I wouild love to see any fat assed news announcer spend even 15 minutes as an Amazon warehouse worker tied to the whipping post) and the pandemic has ramped up sales of Chinese crapola so high they can’t find the boxes to load up all the garbage coming here.

    Here is this scummy company that Mr Market prices at what, $1.5 to $2 trilliion depending on whether Mr Market drank two beers in the morning or slammed a bottle of whisky before the feet hit the floor, and one wonders, are we at peak Amazon?

    From here.

    Executive Summary

    Amazon has repeatedly touted its commitment to providing quality jobs, but a growing body of evidence on injuries and turnover at their facilities tells a different story. Amazon workers around the country have reported being subject to unsustainably fast productivity requirements resulting in injury and exhaustion. Workers describe pushing their bodies to the brink to avoid automatic termination for missing quotas.[1] Data from the company’s own records have confirmed their accounts showing that Amazon warehouses have stunningly high injury rates.[2]

    High turnover is the norm at Amazon facilities. Our analysis of California county-level census data shows that when Amazon opens a fulfillment center, warehouse worker turnover in that county skyrockets. Counties hosting Amazon fulfillment centers have turnover rates that are much higher than the average rate of turnover for warehouse workers in California and workers in other industries overall in the state . . . :

    By now, everybody knows this.

    Amazon shopper = whip cracking sadist.

    Which begs two questions. What is the true price of Amazon when the inhumane treatment of employees and the extreme pace of work is considered? Is Jeff Bezos going to stamp his hobnailed boot into the face of humanity forever?

    1. Carla

      “Is Jeff Bezos going to stamp his hobnailed boot into the face of humanity forever?”

      As long as humanity keeps lovin’ it…

      1. wilroncanada

        Poor Jeff Bezos
        He’s stated many times that Amazon warehouse workers and drivers have no pee-ers. And he tries to prove it, day after day. He won’t recognize that he’s the one who has no pee-er.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        As long as Amazon customers keep buying things from Amazon. It won’t stop until Amazon has been so comprehensively extermicotted that Amazon is exterminated from the face of the earth and its remains driven into Roach Motel Liquidation.

  3. paul

    RE:Former Scottish first minister Salmond launches pro-independence party

    SNP lawmaker Humza Yousaf, the Scottish justice minister, captured concerns about splitting the pro-independence vote, tweeting that poor performance in the regional list vote had cost his party an outright majority in 2016.

    If our totally unsuitable justice minister doesn’t understand our voting system, he should probably stand down.
    If you win the constiuency vote, you have no chance on the list vote. The better your constituency vote the more it downgrades the regional vote.
    Thus the ‘both votes SNP’ slogan wastes people’s second votes.

    Rather than splitting the independence vote, a second (perhaps the first) independence party strengthens it.

    Alex Salmond’s return made a lot of people happy yesterday, (all of them outside holyrood).

    Me included.

    Dear paul,

    Today you have etched your name in history. A warm welcome to you as our newest Founder Member.

    701 years ago the nobles of Scotland put their names to the Arbroath Declaration for Scotland’s independence; today you have put your name to the Alba Declaration:

    “I am committed to the national independence of Scotland, a social-democratic form of governance and a written constitution to enshrine equal rights for all.”

    Due to the overwhelming influx of new members, please bear with us while we issue your ‘Founder Member’ Limited Edition metal membership card. Expect arrival, by post in the next 4 – 6 weeks.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Thats a very interesting move.

      No doubt Salmond is aware of Irish history and how the mainstream nationalist movement was swept away politically in 1918 by a wave of support for the more radical Sinn Fein, which had previously been a very minor fringe player.

      I hope he’s also aware of what happened a couple of years later.

      1. Winston Smith

        Not doubting your knowledge of Irish/Scottish history but can one draw that sort of parallel?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          As they old saying goes, history doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes.

          Its very difficult as an Irish person not to note the political/historical parallels of a century ago. For decades the Irish moderate nationalist movement was stymied, partly through its own ineptness, partly through bad luck (i.e. Parnell and his philandering), and partly due to bad faith in London. Its perhaps hindsight, but looking back it does seem inevitable that if you continually undermine fairly moderate nationalist movements, eventually ‘something’ will happen that will thrown the balance in favour of those with a harder line. The Irish Nationalist party was the dominant party in Ireland for many decades, it looked as secure in its position as any conservative centrist party can be. But they were swept away with quite remarkable speed. Much the same happened in the 1990’s in Northern Ireland, where the moderate nationalist SDLP was pretty much wiped out by Sinn Fein.

          So there are precedents for parties like the SNP to get swept away by the forces they themselves roused up. 20 years ago nobody anticipated that Labour would become an irrelevance in Scotland. And yet they are. And its hard to overstate just what a huge upset it was in the UK electoral system, which tends to strongly favour incumbents with strong local support, for the SNP to do that. It was, of course, Salmond who engineered it. So its not impossible he could pull the trick off twice.

    1. upstater

      We stll have probably 104 Of her books boxed up for grandchildren yet to come. Gosh, they were great reading for the kids, then they took it upmon their own.

      I’d imagine some form of cancelation movement is formenting in some academic department somewhere.

      1. CanCyn

        Upstater – I hope your books aren’t being stored in cardboard boxes! Cardboard attracts silverfish, they’ll chew the books. Keeping them on shelves away from direct sun, not too much humidity is a much better situation. Books printed in the last few decades were not made to last.

        1. Katiebird

          I didn’t know this!! But it certainly explains things. I wonder if there is something that can be used inside the boxes to repel the bugs. Although I know that just storing books flat in boxes will eventually break their spines. Storing books can be stressful.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Not an expert, but this sound like a good use for plastic grocery bags. We collect them and recycle when we can…..

            Wrap the books individually. Knot tight. And then good old fashioned mothballs in the box?

            1. CanCyn

              As long as you don’t store them where there are big temperature swings that would cause condensation inside the bags that would work. And cedar chips are nicer smelling alternative to mothballs.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    The ‘Green Energy’ That Might Be Ruining the Planet Politico

    This is a surprisingly well balanced and well researched article for Politico. This issue of biomass burning is really complex and there are many examples of both good and bad practice. But as a general rule, the larger the scale, the worse it is, as this almost inevitably creates a demand that can’t be met sustainably. Ramped up too much and it would well end up even worse than fossil fuel burning.

    One issue the article didn’t go into is that one of the major drivers in Europe behind biomass is the political imperative to keep old thermal coal plants open, while trying not to use coal (or in some cases, peat). Sometimes its because of the need to keep jobs in the poorer areas they are located in, sometimes its related to grid network needs, as the grids were often focused on big energy producing nodes and it takes time to construct the alternatives. One reason the giant Drax plant in England was redesigned for biomass was that unlike coastal sites, it was not suitable for plugging into the wind power network which is one way of utilising the existing infrastructure.

    Another problem, not mentioned, is that there is increasing evidence that there are major issues with air pollution from changing to wood burning, especially at a domestic scale.

    One hopeful technology for biomass is gasification. This would produce methane for energy production, leaving biochar, which is highly stable and a very good soil enhancer. This process would be much more efficient at reducing pollution and locking in the carbon from sustainably grown trees. There are stable layers of biochar in soil layers in parts of South America that are thought to be thousands of years old. Unfortunately, while there is no technical reason not to adopt gasification rapidly, its just far cheaper to convert old thermal plants so the industry is pretty much stillborn.

    1. Phacops

      The rate of biomass use is unsustainable, especially when there is no evidence that repeated biomass removal is possible. Organics in the soil, unlike biochar, supports a complex biochemistry to sustain healthy soils. The problem which biomass use creates for an unsustainable future, along with faux green products like photovoltaics that require extravagant use of fossil fuels, was covered well in Planet of the Humans. The only solutions that are viable for sustainability are both a permanent reduction of the human population and overall reduction in energy use.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Planet of the Humans is not a technical paper. It peddled numerous discredited falsehoods. Its claims about photovoltaics are not supported by any independent research (i.e not funded by Koch or Exxon). Spend a few minutes in google scholar and you’ll find oceans of papers on the topic. This is one of the most cited.

        1. Isotope_C14

          Consensus, or number of citations does not make something so. Modelling papers, even less so. I suspect the only reason people like these papers are that the engineers believe humans are so smart that they can apply an equation to absolutely everything.

          For many years Carl Woese was ignored by taxonomists due to his 3 kingdom theory, based on ribosomal subunit sequences. He turned out to be right. I had the good fortune of being able to sit-in on his class quite a few times. It’s good when he was doing this critical research people weren’t obsessed with “impact factor” the way they are now.

          Planet of the Humans is a movie, not a technical paper, so pointing that out isn’t relevant. The sequence in the middle of the movie where they show the effects of mining alone should be enough to inform about how absolutely unsustainable growth actually is.

          Once we push the ocean 0.1 to 0.2 more pH units toward neutral, the mass die-off will be a planetary cataclysm.

          We can hem and haw all day long about how one energy is better than the other, but still no one has explained how we are going to stop the bacteria in the permafrost to be a dominant source of GHG emissions since we heated up the planet for them.

          Our goose is cooked.

      2. judy2shoes

        Phacops March 27, 2021 at 11:29 am, wrote:

        “Organics in the soil, unlike biochar, supports a complex biochemistry to sustain healthy soils.”

        From a Washington State University Extension publication:

        “From a global standpoint, biochar’s ability to store rather
        than release carbon might be its single most important
        attribute” but “Because biochar remains virtually intact for centuries, it
        can permanently change a soil’s character. For example,
        this porous material improves aeration of poorly drained
        or compacted soils, while increasing the water-holding
        capacity of fast-draining, sandy soils. The porous nature
        of biochar also provides a physical home for bacteria and
        fungi, including beneficial mycorrhizal species

        Link to the publication for those interested:

        There is a wealth of information about biochar on the internet for those who are curious.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “The ancient fabric that no one knows how to make”

    A fascinating article this and I can imagine how valued it was in the 19th century. I have noticed in old 19th century paintings women being dressed in a slinky material and I always assumed that it was silk but perhaps what it was was Dhaka muslin. It also makes me wonder about something else that I saw once. I was in a museum in Trier, Germany a long time ago and on display was the torso of a young women. But what grabbed my attention was how the artist skillfully gave her some sort of dress that was almost clinging to the skin showing her form perfectly (yeah, I am a guy). Putting aside the high skill level of this ancient artist, I am now wondering if what I was actually looking at was the statue of a young Roman girl wearing a Dhaka muslim dress. The more I think about it, the more I think that it might have been.

    1. Katiebird

      If I ever get to go to a museum again, it will be fun to look for signs of Dhaka muslin in the paintings.

    2. shtove

      It made me think of Small Herculanean Woman – no, not an acid trip – with the conceit of the colour of her undergarments shining through a gauze mantle. Take a look – crazy website dedicated to the science of colouring in ancient Greek sculpture – near the end of a long page of interactive images:

    3. campbeln

      There is also a statue I saw in Rome (I was thinking it was Michelangelo’s Pieta, but I don’t think so based on the images online) that I suspect was modeled on a subject wearing this fabric.

      Despite the face being covered by cloth, all features were still clearly visible, despite being a marble sculpture. Truly awe inspiring. I’ll have to rack my brain to come up with the sculpture in question…

      One of these was it! –

      1. The Rev Kev

        Damn. That statue is breath taking. How did he do it? It’s magnificent. And thanks for that website shtove. It is now duly bookmarked. I knew that ancient statues were painted but this really is something. Can you imagine if they tried to to the same today? People wouldn’t stand for it. Or they would argue about the statue’s actual skin colour. Before the Michelangelo-painted ceiling of the Sistine Chapel had a major cleaning years ago, there was massive resistance. Whole libraries had been written about the colours used and why they were dark and so forth by scholars. But after it was cleaned, it was revealed that the colors in fact were spectacular and it was only centuries of soot that hid the real colours. But as those scholars feared, all their work on the colours was now junked as being totally wrong, even though whole new avenues opened up for further work. And that was why they opposed the cleaning.

    4. occasional anonymous

      At laughed pretty hard at this image from the BBC article:×900/p099wpx7.webp

      So for the moralizing prudes of the day, revealing the natural body of a woman was a scandal, while forcing them into outfits designed to mold the body into having an idealized narrow waist to emphasize T&A was prim and proper.

      Humans are very silly creatures.

  6. Wukchumni

    Native Americans tried to help the starving Donner Party, research shows. They faced gunshots. California Sun
    If the Donner Party had tried to cross the Sierra in this our winter of missed content, we’d have never heard of them, and the country’s preeminent cannibal would be Alferd Packer instead…

    The Press Club is actually the Packer plaque’s second home, and it previously adorned the door to the employee cafeteria on the third floor of the United States Department of Agriculture. The $29 brass marker was placed in August, 1977 at the orders of the freshly appointed Ag Secretary Robert Bergland.

    In the midst of a battle of bureaucratic tribalism, the General Services Administration was preventing the new Secretary from replacing an unpopular food service contractor inside his own headquarters. The natural reaction to this professional slight was to dedicate the cafeteria to a cannibal, and invite in the media for a public shaming.

    Alferd Packer “exemplifies the spirit and the fare of this Agricultural Department cafeteria,” Berland told Barbara Walters and her ABC News viewers. The spectacle was picked up by the Associated Press and reprinted in newspapers across the country. Needless to say, the GSA contract was soon canceled.

    His demands met, Bergland respectfully took the plaque down. Afterward a bemused journalist took possession of it from Agriculture Department public affairs officer Stan Weston at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, who had came up with the contest to name the USDA’s new cafeteria. The plaque, modified to remember Weston, today graces the walls of National Press Club across town. On their menu you can find an Alferd Packer certified angus beef burger.

    Very few could claim to have made money off the misfortune of the Donner Party, but i’m one of them. In the mid 1980’s somebody found in an attic in a house in nearby Grass Valley about 500 little square glass bottles containing bits of the Murphy Cabin, which were sealed with red wax, with accompanying certification from 1893 when they were made in order to gin up funds to build a monument to honor the hapless traveling clan. These were donated to the Donner Museum which sold them for $15 and I bought a dozen, promptly sold them for $50 to $100, made a beeline back to purchase more, but they’d run out of them.

    They typically fetch around $500 now~

      1. The Rev Kev

        I wonder what would happen in a restaurant if a waitress called out ‘Donner party – your table is ready.’

    1. Darthbobber

      Apropos of nothing, Utah Phillips lived in Donner Pass for some years. I remember at one of his concerts he claimed to be working on a Donner Party cookbook. He said he was presently occupied with the Finger Foods section.

  7. jo6pac

    no matter what you think is gonna happen in this video, you’re wrong.

    Great Vid, Thanks

    That Seal was really moving to catch the boat.

    1. fresno dan

      March 27, 2021 at 9:12 am
      I was amazed that that seal could keep up and jump on that boat – but it is a seal, and I guess they are suppose to swim fast – sharks swim after them.
      Now, I am not gonna mention a particular party guess, who drank most of the 150$ bottle of wine. Offer fish to a seal, and wine to a wino, and you’re gonna get what you get…

  8. The Rev Kev

    “Is that ship still stuck?”

    That boat may be there for a long time. If it comes down to it, they may have to unload some of the 20,000 containers aboard. But that is not a simple job because if they do not do it evenly, the hull could come under stress and actually buckle which means that that ship would be there for months or even longer. When I was growing up, a feature of the news occasionally was the Suez canal because from 1967 to 1975 it was shut. After the Arab-Israeli wars the Israelis occupied the Sinai to the canal itself so Egypt shut it to all shipping. If you were on one of the ships of the Yellow Fleet, then you were all out of luck. Looks like that flee may have a new member-

      1. The Rev Kev

        I have no idea. Probably. The top of the highest containers may be too high off the water to have a mobile crane come in and remove them. It would be slow as hell in any case being one at a time. And if they try to remove the containers from each shore, too many containers removed would perhaps cause a bend down in the middle of the ship’s hull and maybe breaking it. It’s a mess.

      2. Synoia

        1. Most Containers are To heavy for a helicopter.
        2. Very dangerous dangerous, consider one dropping.

        What happens if a helicopter lifted container drops on the ship? Broken ship? I’d want to be a good distance from that action.

        Unloading the ship requires a rather large crane. I don’t see any port like infrastructure close to that ship in the photographs..

        1. Tom Stone

          Synoia, there are helicopters suitable for lifting containers.
          And there’s one heck of a lot of money involved, I’d expect the insurers are sweating blood so cost shouldn’t be a factor.

          1. RMO

            I suppose it depends on what the containers are loaded with. A 20 foot container can be loaded to be as heavy as 24,000Kg all up. I thin the Mi-26 has the highest load capacity of any helicopter and it maxes out at 20,000Kg. If they’re going to try the helicopter route I hope the heavily loaded containers are down at the bottom (which would be a good place for them for reasons of stability too). An S-64 or a Chinook can sling about 10,000Kg.

            1. occasional anonymous

              FT here: says that

              The logistics of unloading 40-foot containers, which can weigh about 30 tonnes when full, from an almost 60m-height are far from straightforward, with the accident happening far from any port infrastructure.

              So, up to 33 ton containers, up to 200 feet in the air, with no cranes, and no way to bring in land cranes since the ship is diagonal to the shore. If these containers are filled with heavy stuff (I haven’t found any info about what it’s carrying), even an Mi-26 is out as an option.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Is Sisi the Great Danger? I do like the subheading on the article:

      Egyptian government’s abject failure in responding to the Suez closure highlights the threat this regime poses to international trade and stability

      Not a word about other such threats to the Greatest Good The Human Race Has Ever Had To Shoulder, that “international trade and stability” thing, from regimes like Israel’s, or the Wahabbis, or of course the Empire itself, now flinging furniture out the penthouse windows, or the petrochemical and FIRE cartels,, etc…

      Still no answer to “what kind of political economy do we want to live in,anyway?” Whoever “we” is.

  9. Mark Gisleson

    Not sure if getting NC readers to boycott private equity owned fast food outlets would put a dent in their profits, but it would be nice to see that Daily Caller story get some widespread circulation.

    It would be sweet irony if backlash against Amazon, Jimmy John’s, Dunkin Donuts and Arby’s helped rekindle unionism in this country.

    1. nycTerrierist

      Couldn’t agree more

      If the ‘Squad’ really means business re: getting workers a living wage,
      they would laser-focus on these predatory employers and cast blame where it belongs.
      Perhaps the public will take it from there
      and support strategic boycotts, strikes

      1. curlydan

        I agree. These kinds of stories can and should embarrass Inspire Brands and their like. On the one hand, the whole communication likely was some guy in their government relations department trying to justify his salary and the royalties their franchisees play. But on the other hand, it’s a powerful and repulsive story of a company actively working to make these poverty wages continue. If the Squad et. al. don’t pick it up, we should question their media savvy and motivations.

    2. Michael Ismoe

      Whenever I see someone “claim credit” for doing or undoing something, I always wonder who really was the power that made it happen. I’ll bet you 100 burgers to 1 that McDonalds had a far larger impact than Jimmy Johns but they are smart enough to stay quiet. Since I never patronize any of their establishments anyway, feel free to add my name to the boycott.

    3. diptherio

      I’m going to not go to those places even more than I already don’t go to them (assuming I can find the time for all that not-going).

    4. griffen

      I’m good with the idea. I rather choose Jersey Mike’s any day over Jimmy John.

      Not certain if Jersey Mike’s is locally franchised, but I’m assuming its the case.

  10. marym

    Re: Kemp’s defense of the GA voter suppression law (emphasis and notes added)

    While Senate Bill 202 does guarantee at least one Saturday of early voting in future elections, the sweeping Republican-sponsored overhaul of state election law requires a photo identification to vote absentee by mail [*]. It also shortens how long voters have to request an absentee ballot and limits where ballot drop boxes can be placed and when they can be used [**]. The new law also gives the state legislative more control over how elections are run, meaning less control by local officials.

    The Republican National Convention called for similar election reform laws in Florida, such as allowing the removal of local election officials and letting the state-run it rather than local elected officials.

    [*]Georgia has had no-excuse/no ID absentee voting since 2005.
    [**]Georgia has had strong security requirements for drop boxes including continuous video monitoring.

  11. Maxwell Johnston

    “Blow up the global trading system”

    Prestowitz was a Big Shot when I was in MBA school in 1990, back when Japan was the threat du jour. How quaint, in retrospect. At the time, I had drunk the proverbial koolaid of free markets and (like most of my classmates) considered him to be wrong. But thirty years is a long time, and I think his recommendations have merit. Unfortunately, he is “a day late and a dollar short”, and I suspect his ideas (if implemented–fat chance, IMHO) will only accelerate the division of our planet into two separate blocs: one centered around USA/EU, and one centered around China/Russia. With lots of diplomacy and warfare along the borders.

  12. zagonostra

    >Scientists Pin Down When Earth’s Crust Cracked, Then Came to Life – Quanta (Anthony L)

    Deciphering our planet’s formative years is hard… Oxygen set the planet up for the emergence of plants, animals and almost everything else with an oxygen-based metabolism…Life larger and more complex than microbes requires more energy,..Progress toward complexity stalled during the “boring billion” era, the roughly billion-year reign of the supercontinent Nuna-Rodinia.

    A new word for my vocabulary, “Nuna-Rodina”. Words like “formative,” “complexity,” “emergence,” “energy”, and most of all “Progress” would take up volumes to really know, especially in relation to the emergence of “Life.” But I guess you have to take certain words as given in order to make any kind of statement on explanations like this. What I want most to understand is how something came from nothing. the “Big Bang” just doesn’t cut it for me.

    Maybe this is why I keep going back to the pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. You can pin down the “when” and maybe even the physical antecedents, to a point, of why the “Earth’s Crust Cracked” but does that take you any closer to a cosmological understanding of the Universe? Maybe that can only be rendered by the work of religion and poetry. Dante certainly held a coherent view. But then people today have forfeited over what is real to the scientist, and supposedly Dante or a Milton only are describing what is in their imagination. But to my mind, if you can’t pin down the “crack in the cosmic egg” you are only describing a small sliver of “reality” – and sometimes I guess that’s enough.

    1. timbers

      This is interesting, and here is a fun mental exercise I’ve thought about: Terriforming Mars. It would be helpful to in doing that by re-activating her core heat and restoring her tectonics if she ever had any. How? Move Vesta from the asteroid belt into Mars orbit. Vesta’s rich iron nickel content gravity would help restore Martian magnetic field and churn her core into molten form generating heat and magnetism. As Martian magnetic field grows she retains gasses for atmosphere, raising her temperature and melting ice to water. No idea if this can work or makes sense, but something to ponder.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        If we had the engineering expertise to move Vesta into Mars orbit, we wouldn’t bother unless people absolutely had to walk on Mars without a spacesuit. It would be a vanity project.

        1. ambrit

          Vesta will be much more valuable right where it is now, in the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter. A truly space capable species will want the raw materials freely available in the Asteroid Belt. The Belt is like having a planet’s worth of raw materials, already conveniently broken up into manageable sized chunks for transport and processing. Add to this, no planetary sized gravity well to fight up out of and you have the makings of a viable space based technical civilization.
          If we don’t blow ourselves up first.

      2. ambrit

        Terraforming Mars would be fun, but sub-optimal. It is smaller that the Earth by roughly a half. The magnetic field problem is but one of several. As mentioned here in days of yore, perchlorates in the soil are a problem for Terrestrial life forms survival.
        The real candidate for terraforming in the Solar System is Venus.

        1. Wukchumni

          I was counting as utilizing Venus if you will as a trash incinerator for future garbage scows to dump their loads.

            1. lyman alpha blob

              What is this? Ijon Tichy is a Stanislaw Lem character – I had no idea they made those stories into a TV series. I will have to find a version with English subtitles or brush up on my German. The only phrase I can remember is “Ich lasse mir die lunge roentgen”.

              1. rowlf

                In the 1970s I read everything Lem wrote with The Futurological Congress being my favorite. His Wiki says The Polish Parliament declared 2021 Stanisław Lem Year.

                Try these:

                A defect in his cryogenic sleep chamber causes space pilot Ijon Tichy to wake up as an old man aged by 30 years. Tichy worries about the return flight, another 30 years – he won’t survive.

                Tichy and his Halluzinelle have the best possible chance of winning the robotics competition on the planet Prozytien. But he didn’t think about his stubborn assistant.

                Tichy wants to pass off Prof. Tarantoga’s invention ‘Biste-Fix Time Bubbles’ as his own at the prestigious inventors’ congress ‘Interstellarer Präfektus’.

        2. Synoia

          Consider the amount of energy require to lift one human into low earth orbit. With current technology it is between 25 and 75 thousand gallons of Kerosene.

          It appears that the only way humankind will spread over the solar system is as fetuses and a few nursemaids and teachers.

          If one was a descended from a space bound fetus, what would be the possibility of any loyalty to Earth?

          1. wilroncanada

            Did anybody on the west coast see the flaming remnants of the latest rocket re-entering the atmosphere 2 nights ago? The next Q-drip will surely be: Those damn Mexican aliens will do anything to get over the border into the USA USA USA.

        3. Henry Moon Pie

          All this talk of terraforming as if it’s some kind of speculative dream. We’re already doing a heckuva job terraforming Earth, aren’t we?

  13. Dr. Robert

    Re: Blow Up The Global Trading System

    It is at once frustrating and edifying to watch the architects of globalization embrace the critiques of the anti-globalization movement that they dismissed for a quarter century. Of course they choose to do so only now, when it is too late for the US to implement the decisive measures he calls for in the article. He even recommends the US government copy Chinese methods of guiding economic investment! He seems to think Biden can flip a switch and turn the “free world” into some kind of transnational version of China, even suggesting the IMF implement tarrifs!

    It’s great to see the anti-globalization movement vindicated, if only they’d have listened to us 25 years ago when it could have made a difference.

    1. Synoia

      “He seems to think Biden can flip a switch and turn the “free world” into some kind of transnational version of China”

      There is a precedent , WW II.

    2. Roger

      The utter derangement, idiocy and ignorance of the US policy elites on full display. To misquote Sun Tzu, “when enemy trying really hard to shoot himself in the head stand back and give him some alone time”.

    3. Cat Burglar

      Great to read that Prestowitz thinks the present global trading system is going to collapse “under its own weight.” In articles like his the real news is what drips out incidentally. He does not explain why it might collapse, but my hunch is that he has twigged to the current domestic political instability as a result of globalization. Might be hard to run an empire with a lot of domestic conflict.

      “Nor was the absence in other countries of effective labor unions and environmental and safety facilities. All these factors were simply not recognized” when they put the WTO together. LMAO, as they say.

      The Free World and The Liberal, Rules-Based, Global Order (bad sign when any system needs this many adjectives to characterize it) take their turn. He holds the WTO to be part of the Free World, and with Saudi Arabia a WTO member, that must be some freedom that world is having, that China doesn’t have.

      His recommendations for jobs reshoring are better than anything we have now, but look more like PR than policy.

      It will be really interesting to see if TPTB will buy in to a program like his. My guess is that any measure that might increase wages here will get dropped, and there goes domestic political stability — if they want it, let them pay us for it.

      1. a fax machine

        There is certainly enough justification for melding the nu-TPP and the nu-NAFTA together. Both parties in Washington support both, all Biden has to do is come up with a scheme that satisfies everyone. It’s at least plausible that he could do that, especially if he leaves India out in favor for other developed countries like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Australia. In short if Biden keeps his trade goals simple – and smaller – he can probably pull it off and decouple the US from China without much friction.

        The EU is an entirely different question given it’s own internal banking problems. The EU is unlikely to agree with a big American FTA, especially with the proposed Nord Steam 2 sanctions. Germany doesn’t want to be ordered around in regards to Russia or China while Italians, Spaniards and Greeks do not want technical governments. At some point it might prove cheaper to just start a European Spring and have the CIA destroy the EU and have the ex-EU countries join America’s block ™.

        But this also assumes requisite compliance from all parties involved. More extreme ideologies might enter, and to the point about the Irish Civil War above a new virulent and explicitly economic nationalist GOP might choke this in Congress. Same overseas as liberal democracy recedes, and technical governments are replaced with military juntas. Global capitalism melts down into varying flavors of fascism and Biden watches the world fly apart.

  14. Wukchumni

    Troubles with tribbles, er turkeys.

    Usually around this time of year one can expect to encounter what i’ve decided are potentially suicidal quail which prefer to run with 2 on the floor versus fly, which they do when at the last second after nearly running into the wheel wells of your ride on the road @ 40 mph, and always get away with it, crazy!

    They always hang together like turkeys do and are diminutive in size compared to the latter, it’d be like comparing a house cat to a human.

    They’re an odd bird in that they lay their eggs in a nest on the ground hidden away a bit, i’ve seen them with 15-20 eggs.

    When we moved here there were 6 or 8 wild turkeys we’d see once in awhile, oh how cute with their ‘Yo!, i’m standing here!’ attitude they’d supply to your surprise in slowing down 2 tons of car, and then 15 years later they multiplied to the point where there must be a thousand around, 30 or 40 have quick claimed our property and made vassals of us, with their chief propagandist being gobbles.

    Like any fascist aviary movement, they’ve decided to wipe out competitors for meager foodstuff opportunities & lebensraum, with the hapless quail being their own worst enemy in choice of nest eggs and mode of transport against fowl play.

    Haven’t seen any this year so far…

    1. Wotan

      I think you might find Turkeys are not native to CA but were introduced and are protected Federally from being unnaturally killed and that is why you have so many

      1. Wukchumni

        This is where a healthy mountain lion population locally would’ve helped themselves to a thanksgiving meal whenever they felt like, it would’ve culled the herd but sightings of cougars in the foothills are few and far between as they’ve learned to stay away from us, for if they kill too many goats, chickens, cats, little dogs, and anything down the food chain, it annoys us and we get a depredation order allowing an annoyed human to even the score of our forlorn four legged companions.

      2. barefoot charley

        In our reach of the North Coast Range, turkeys from North Carolina were introduced by the then-Dept of Fish and Game in the mid- to late-80s. They were an instant hit. Around the same time black bears drifted down from the Yolla Bollys, and have been eying my recycling cans ever since.

    2. diptherio

      Same thing here (though they appear to have retired to the woods for the season, thankfully). The guano they leave under their roosting trees makes pretty good fertilizer, fwiw.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “The War in Iraq Exposed Huge Flaws in American Strategic Thinking”

    This article seeks to blame Iraq’s neighbours for the problems that the US had in trying to occupy Iraq but it was never going to really work. US troops moved in their own bubble of firepower and someone wrote how as they went through a street, Iraq closed behind them. The author talks about how “the overwhelming majority of decisions in the Iraq War were made by highly intelligent, highly experienced, leaders.” Yeah, about that. I followed the invasion and occupation of Iraq daily and too many times I came across accounts of friction between those ‘highly intelligent, highly experienced’ and the lower grade officers who knew that some of the orders were just plain nuts. Ex-Maj. Danny Sjursen, whose articles appear here from time to time, has also spoken of this with his experiences in Afghanistan. The truth of the matter is that the top officers in the US are not naturally selected from the best candidates but those who can please their superiors most on their way up the chain. That is how you get a David Petraeus. The officer selection program in the US at least is in dire need of reform.

    1. Phacops

      It seems to me that the American chain of command is a huge Dunning-Kreuger factory. That is why I sorta support a universal draft so that ordinary Americans will see just what -ups our military are.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I almost believe we need to draft the officer corp. No 16 year old who wants to go to West Point should ever make important decisions.

    2. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      March 27, 2021 at 11:10 am
      “The War in Iraq Exposed Huge Flaws in American Strategic Thinking”
      So I am watching my rental video of PBS Frontline Bush’s War from 2008.
      I must of seen it at the time, but the mind has become more full of holes than Swiss cheese. And I have more hindsight now. The first thing that strikes me – the sources of the program must have all been from the CIA. The second thing – Cheney had had experience with CIA errors in assessing Iraq nuclear program in late 80’s early 90’s. What Cheney took away from that – build your own intelligence service in the DoD to give you the intelligence you want (or to be more dispassionate – to give an opposing view). Instead of what he should have learned, intelligence is always of pretty dubious value.
      Just reaffirms a quote I have…uh, quoted many, many times:
      The Boxer (Simon and Garfunkel)
      I am just a poor boy
      Though my story’s seldom told I have squandered my resistance
      For a pocketful of mumbles Such are promises
      All lies and jest
      Still, a man hears what he wants to hear
      And disregards the rest

      Years and years of UN resolutions against Saddam, supported by both dems and repubs. All ready when the time was ripe…
      maybe NOT JUST Bush’s War

      1. The Rev Kev

        In fairness to the CIA, their analyst were good and stated that there was no WMA to be found and it was all bogus. But Cheney himself would go down to CIA headquarters to personally browbeat and bully those analysts to tell him what he wanted to hear as “proof” of Iraq’s guilt. A lot of good analysts left the CIA when it became obvious that the suck-ups were going to be running things.

        When after the invasion it became obvious that there was no WMD, Cheney and co. unfairly blamed them calling it an “intelligence failure.” He threw them to the wolves for what he forced them to declare. That is why the intelligence services are a bit gun shy now. Remember when some declaration was made by the 17 intelligence services which turned out to be only 3 intelligence services which turned out to be a bunch of carefully selected stooges? That is probably an effect of the Iraq fiasco at work.

    3. wilroncanada

      The Rev Kev
      “highly intelligent, highly experienced, leaders.” The McNamara brigade

    4. Andrew Watts

      It is generally assumed there is a level of competency when an individual ascends to a certain level in politics and/or business. In matters of war an individual is constantly being tested and forced to prove it. The end result of the battle or war speaks for itself.

      That being said, it wasn’t a failure of the military leaders to refuse to engage diplomatically with Iran and Syria before invading Iraq. Nor was it the military’s fault that the Baathist armed forces were disbanded, or that every member of the Baathist party was purged from the bureaucracy.

  16. John Beech

    When did caveat emptor lose all meaning? It’s popular to pile on Amazon, I get it, but in the rush to blame Amazon, are we losing sight of the simple fact the consumer is who decides to purchase a product?

    More to the point, is it really on Amazon to tell people batteries aren’t meant to be ingested? Is it also on Amazon to warn people dropping a widget powered by a battery, said battery, which is amongst the broken bit as the product shatters, and is then subsequently scarfed down by a child who is then injured . . . really?

    So what in effect we’re saying is this; if your child places their hand on a hot stove, it’s not Mommy’s fault for not properly supervising, but is instead both KitchenAid’s fault for creating the device that burned the child and Best Buy’s for selling it. Check.

    Reminds me of the photo circulating of a pizza box’s printed warning that the box is not to be eaten. Honestly, I expected rather clearer thought processes amongst my fellow citizens but obviously, I am mistaken else I wouldn’t be taking the under on this one.

    Funny if it weren’t sad.

    1. John Zelnicker

      @John Beech
      March 27, 2021 at 11:30 am

      I remember reading many years ago that lawn mower manufacturers had to include a safety warning not to use the machine to trim hedges. Apparently, some guy picked one up and tried to trim his boxwoods with it and got seriously injured.

      There’s just no way to fix stupid.

    2. bassmule

      Amazon’s main product–and our National Vice–is convenience. Tim Wu:

      “Americans say they prize competition, a proliferation of choices, the little guy. Yet our taste for convenience begets more convenience, through a combination of the economics of scale and the power of habit. The easier it is to use Amazon, the more powerful Amazon becomes — and thus the easier it becomes to use Amazon. Convenience and monopoly seem to be natural bedfellows.

      Though understood and promoted as an instrument of liberation, convenience has a dark side. With its promise of smooth, effortless efficiency, it threatens to erase the sort of struggles and challenges that help give meaning to life. Created to free us, it can become a constraint on what we are willing to do, and thus in a subtle way it can enslave us.

      It would be perverse to embrace inconvenience as a general rule. But when we let convenience decide everything, we surrender too much.”

      1. ckimball

        Another idea is that convenience is a by-product of time being swallowed by the endless tedium being
        pushed through a rubric of “the faster the better, the faster the smarter,
        the get it done” or “time is money”. My mother, born 1913, used to say when
        I visited, relax, have a glass of wine, take a bath, And time expanded.

        1. epynonymous

          My first cd purchase.

          Bought with a barnes and nobles gift card from grandma.

          “The Clash – Lost in the Supermarket”

          I think Tom Tomorrows ‘This Modern World’ comic strip might finally be readable again. Just read him a few months behind, and it all comes together

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      From the linked article:

      “The case currently before the Texas Supreme Court involves a 19-month-old toddler who suffered permanent damage to her esophagus when she ingested a lithium-ion battery that popped out of a knockoff remote control.…… Lawyers for the child’s mother have argued that Amazon is liable for the defective remote since the site serves the same function as a physical retail store, which is to put products into the stream of commerce. Traditional brick-and-mortar stores are typically held liable for injuries caused by defective products”

      Sorry John, I have no problem holding Amazon to the same standards that other sellers must adhere to. They’ve been making bank off obvious knock offs and obvious fraud for nearly twenty years now. They need to be forced to spend the money to hire personnel to police their sales venues. Forced to shut down the infringers swiftly. The grossly favorable circumstances they’ve created for themselves need to be altered.

      And don’t tell me her family is “responsible” for buying a knock off. The way Amazon markets on its website its nearly impossible to tell if an item is legit or a knock off. Because they like it that way.

    4. cnchal

      Have I got this right?

      child playing with a battery powered toy that breaks on impact leaving a chicklet sized battery ready to be swallowed


      child places their hand on a hot stove.

      1. UserFriendlyyy

        To go a step further I’d be willing to bet there is a regulation on the books (or at least court precedent) that remote controls shouldn’t be sized that kids can choke on them and that battery compartments must be child resistant. So in fact Amazon is probably undercutting any chance of domestic production by having less regs. And obviously stoves get hot when used as intended, nobody expects batteries to get ejected out of a remote and can you imagine the kind of parents that are running around and making sure the kids can’t play with anything that has batteries in it without supervision?

  17. lincoln

    “Fast Food Giant Claims Credit For Killing $15 Minimum Wage”

    I’m sure Wendy’s helped a little. And Walmart, Home Depot, Amazon, McDonald’s, ect.

  18. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    Re: In Quest of a Multi-Polar World

    In the conversation between Michael Hudson and Pepe Escobar, Hudson says: “America issues dollars, [and] these all end up in central banks [of foreign countries] and they hold the dollars as a surplus. […] And all they could do is finance the U.S. budget deficit by buying Treasury bills.”

    I’m confused. I thought with fiat currency like the U.S. has, that the deficit is not financed by taxes or Treasury bills but rather that Congress authorizes spending and the appropriate banks accounts are credited with funds. Am I missing something? Is Hudson not a proponent of MMT as I thought?

    1. Roger

      The US is special because it has the world reserve currency and therefore does not have to worry about the debasement of that currency in the same way as other nations. For nations limited by large foreign-currency denominated debts and having to buy basics such as energy and food in the US$ foreign currency there are real limits on MMT due to the possibility of currency collapse and imported hyperinflation. I think that this may be the nuance in Hudson’s comments.

    2. Mel

      The foreign countries were funding the U.S. external deficit. That’s the difference. They were selling goods and services, taking U.S. dollars in payment, then just saving those dollars as bonds, considering the dollars/bonds to be a long-term asset. If they had tried to spend the dollars, they would have bid up the price of U.S. export goods and bid down the dollar. Americans would have had to compete with foreigners to buy American goods.
      The MMT position is that a monetary sovereign government can create money to buy anything for sale in its domestic market. External trade is another affair.
      In Super Imperialism, Prof. Hudson describes how, via Bretton Woods, and by dealings after ending gold convertibility, the U.S.A. contrived to make itself the exception to the usual rules.

  19. Dirk77

    Re: We are at a crossroads in the search for a new physics. I don’t know about anyone else, but it seems I’ve been reading some variation on “physics has lost its way” since I was an undergrad, decades ago. I figure the author is in a mid-career crisis, so say 40-45 years old. Let me look him up and see. No, he’s 52. I stand corrected. Anyways, to put the authors’ mind to rest: there will always be something to do; your knowledge now is a drop compared to what is out there. And so what if the experiments are getting harder? They have always been getting harder. So you don’t have to panic that you don’t understand everything and be in a rush to understand this “final piece” so you can go home, sit on the couch, eat Cheetos, smoke doobies and watch reruns of the Kardashians for the rest of your life.

    1. Foy

      They have been creating more and more theory to explain all the ever growing holes in their current theories that they find when they look ‘out there’. Dark energy, dark matter, inflation. in my view all their problems start with their misunderstanding of redshift to measure cosmological distances.

      The astronomer Halton Arp one of the first to document galaxies discovered that there were highly red shifted quasars in the vicinity of lower red shifted galaxies. Theoretically these objects should be millions or billions of light years apart. However when looked at in x-ray and gamma vision there are physical links between some of these objects.

      He then noticed there were twin highly red shifted quasars equidistant on either side of a much lower redshifted galaxy on the galaxy axis line, as if they had been ejected on opposite sides at the same time. That these quasars would have very similar redshifts on the same axis and distance should be extremely unlikely.

      He also noticed the redshift of these quasars was quantised, it moved in jumps, which should also be impossible. He theorised that the high redshift was inherent to the quasars and not so much to do with distance. He noticed that the redshift dropped in specific jumps as they moved further away from parent galaxy. And that the further away they got there seemed to be new galaxies forming, which then ejected their own quasars

      And in the last two years, partly proving his claim, it was found that some quasars had disappeared and galaxies formed in their place (haven’t got time to relocate that article right now, I’ve linked it before). How about that.

      If anyone is interested here is an excellent playlist series of some excellent short videos explaining Halton Arp and his theory of redshift and showing example after example of galaxies and their associated quasars

      They are also finding that stars and galaxies all seem to be located on filaments. I think that they will find that those filaments are giant Birkeland currents – similar to what powers the Aurora. Birkeland currents are plasmas that go from dark mode to glow mode (like a neon light) to arc mode (lightning) or in this theory the Sun which is in arc mode. There is more of that on the same channel. The hour glass nebulae (look at it vertically) is the perfect example of a young star in a high density Birkeland current showing, dark mode, glow mode (surrounding nebulae) and arc mode sun. It can be seen in that nebulae that it has shells within shells which is what you see in a plasma Birkeland current. Magnetic fields due to the plasma flow cause opposite rotating shells. That youtube channel also has a series on these Birkeland currents. It doesn’t have all the explanations but at least what we are seeing in the sky can be matched to these theories in the lab with plasmas and Birkeland currents

      Fascinating stuff, to me anyway. But science only advances one death at a time.

      1. Dirk77

        My knowledge of astrophysics is minimal, but it sounds interesting. At least to judge by Wikipedia, the verdict on Arp’s redshift theory is still out. As for you quoting Planck at the end, I would not be too harsh on academic astrophysicists and particle physicists. As the Ferreira article points out, they seem to be willing to entertain crazy ideas, though time and grant money put a limit on their willingness of course. My main objection to his article was really about the title, using “crossroads” in particular. As for many endeavors, science doesn’t need any added drama to be interesting – and it cheapens it when you try. Once you strip away that, the article is merely about the current state of physics, which apart from the particulars, sounds just like any other time. No more and no less.

      2. occasional anonymous

        Halton Arp was wrong. I won’t just dismiss him as a loon, because he wasn’t, but his ideas came from his survey of a very small sample size of about a hundred galaxies. In the decades since a survey of more than a million galaxies and quasars has demolished his redshift skepticism.

        As a general rule, if your ‘check out this radical theory guys, totally demolishes the corrupt status quo!!!!’ consists of a YouTube playlist, it’s wrong.

        You seem to be pushing the electric/plasma ‘alternative’ cosmology. Its models are essentially pure gibberish. They aren’t radical alternatives that some mainstream conspiracy of academics are suppressing because…um…???; instead they’re dismissed because they’re useless and don’t fit the available evidence.

        1. Foy

          Mmmm ok, the SAFIRE project plasma experiments are coming up with some interesting results. I agree that not all of what Arp suggested was correct but I was still open to his redshift ideas

          I’m still waiting for an explanation of why the corona of the sun is so much hotter than the surface. That isn’t the way a heat model should work

          Thanks for that link though.

          1. epynonymous

            It’s not a heat model. Radiation/ electro-magneticm runs the show, but it’s really a spectrum of models, with the idea of a certain set of symetries that are actually well founded.

            I’m not familiar with said project, but I do follow the literature, and this seems like a pretty good laymans intro to real modern physics. Which is all based on the works of the 1920’s – 30s. This is good and addresses the question of the scale (and therefore time) of the universe.


            “The NEW Crisis in Cosmology”

            1. Foy

              Yep plasma double layers and electromagnetism explain it, but that is not the nuclear sun powered heat model which is the standard model, they can’t explain it properly in my view. Thanks for the video suggestion epynonymous!

        2. Foy

          “However, a follow-up study by Bell and McDiarmid[14] shows that Arp’s hypothesis about the periodicity in red-shifts cannot be discarded easily. The authors argue (as response to Tang and Zhang (2005) from which the preceding excerpt is taken) that

          “The Tang and Zhang (2005) analysis could thus have missed, or misidentified, many of the parent galaxies, which could explain why the pairs they found differed little from what would be expected for a random distribution. In spite of this, although it was not pointed out by these authors, their pairs did show a slight excess near the expected value of 200 kpc….In fact, most of the conclusions reached by Tang and Zhang (2005) appear to have resulted because they have assumed that many of the values [that they have used] are much more accurate than they really are. …[we found by examining 46400 quasars from Sloan Digital Sky Survey that] the locations of the peaks in the redshift distribution are in agreement with the preferred redshifts predicted by the intrinsic redshift equation”

          There is still life in Arp yet.

        3. Foy

          Here is the article on the disappearing Quasars

          “Astronomers peering across the universe think they’ve caught a dozen quasars—extremely bright and distant objects powered by ravenous supermassive black holes at the centers of ancient galaxies—in a disappearing act. Or at least transitioning into their quiescent and dimmer counterparts: galaxies with starving black holes at their cores.”

          Exactly what Arp predicted

          1. Gc54

            As Prof. Krolik notes, quasars flicker all the time. Once the Rubin telescope opens soon the variations of hundreds of thousands of quasars will be quantified at all redshifts for the duration of that survey.

            1. Foy

              I’m sure they will noted at all redshifts. But the trick is identifying their source galaxy and comparing their redshift to its redshift. That is where the quantisation should be calculated and found. Finding the host galaxy is a difficult thing as the Bell and McDiarmid study showed when they demonstrated the problems with the The Tang and Zhang (2005) study which tried to demonstrate Arp was incorrect.

              Bell and McDiarmid showed problems with that study and matching of quasars to galaxies. Its hard to get the right one and easy to get the wrong one. Match a quasar to the wrong galaxy and the redshifts will be random and not quantised.

  20. allan

    An aqueous antidote. Video of irresistible water meeting immovable rock:

    ABC News @ABC

    After parts of Australia saw torrential rainfall, waterfalls were spotted cascading down
    the typically dry Uluru [the rock formerly known as Ayer’s], with pathways flooded.

  21. John k

    Brexit, Merciless reality –
    Mosler posits imports of stuff make you richer, at least in stuff, exports make you poorer.
    So to know brits are worse off you have to look at change in exports, and compare that with change in imports… it’s likely Germans are richer, too, because they’re not shipping Britain as many cars.

  22. Roger

    The listed “top ten exports to the EU’ are the top ten AGRICULTURAL products, which are a pretty small share of UK products going to the EU. I accept that BREXIT is having a big impact, but this is a bit misleading.

    1. Anonymous2

      Agreed. We need a fuller and longer time series of data before it will be possible to get a properly informed view of the impact of Brexit on the UK economy. However it is clear it is bad. Last year saw a 10% fall in UK GDP which of course is way out of the range of normal experience. There are hopes of a big bounce if and when Covid restrictions can be lifted. Of course this may happen but we have to wait to see.

      In the meantime the Scottish elections in May could herald the disintegration of the UK.

      It is the old Chinese curse, is it not? ‘May you live in interesting times.’

  23. lobelia

    Re: Solar Geoengineering Should be Investigated, Scientists Say

    The report also offers recommendations for future experiments. To date, geoengineering research has consisted almost entirely of modeling studies.

    But that could change soon.

    A Harvard University project dubbed SCoPEx — short for Stratospheric Controlled Perturbation Experiment — is planning some of the world’s first geoengineering field experiments. The project aims to send a high-altitude balloon up to the stratosphere, where it will release small quantities of mineral dust into the air.

    These experiments could help scientists better understand how aerosols behave high up in the atmosphere.

    SCoPEx researchers have repeatedly emphasized that the project is small in scale, and that any aerosols it uses will be environmentally safe and released in small quantities. Still, the project has incited controversy among environmental groups, highlighting the many social concerns still swirling around solar geoengineering (Climatewire, March 9).

    Amazing how the piece never once mentions Bill Gates, the major funder behind that Harvard SCoPEx Project (though the Climatewire link does mention his foundation in passing).

    From Forbes regarding that Harvard project: 01/11/21 By Areil Cohen A Bill Gates Venture Aims To Spray Dust Into The Atmosphere To Block The Sun. What Could Go Wrong?

    And one can always rely on the Daily Mail for a title laymen can understand: 03/23/21 By Ryan Morrison Could dimming the sun help to cool the Earth? Bill Gates wants to spray millions of tonnes of CHALK into the stratosphere to reflect sunlight and slow global warming – but critics fear it could be disastrous

    Daily Mail also borrows, or provides, some of the best, most fitting photos. Here’s ‘Dr.’ Billy looking like the megalomaniacal snapping turtle that he is:

    I suggest a project titled, Planet Earth and The Galaxies are Not Your Personal Sandbox Bill, Jeff, Elon, Et Al; but that would require a Government interested and willing to do the right thing.

    gotta run (odd and ominous clouds above)

  24. occasional anonymous

    Regarding unions and religion, the chronic inability of American leftists to ever seek Biblical support for their ideas is immensely frustrating. You don’t have to believe it, the point is that plenty of Americans (in fact most, to one degree or other), do, and would be very receptive if you framed your ideas in terms they encounter in church every Sunday. The right habitually frames the divide as between Christian capitalism and godless socialism, and the left never seems to have the slightest interest in countering this narrative. And it’s not like you have to stretch at all to find Biblical support; the Book of Acts has early Christians, under a couple of Apostles no less, living in a literal commune with no private property, complete with a vignette where a married couple is punished when it’s discovered they concealed property from the collective.

    It is beyond insane that in America today the thuggish right can claim to be on the side of Jesus, when some of the least ambiguous stuff Jesus said was anti-rich and pro-economic justice.

    1. Anonapet

      It’s very ironic too since Bible believers are COMMANDED to be subject to government EXCEPT when that contradicts obeying God – and those conflicts are relatively very rare and involve extremists on both sides.

      But I don’t expect the Left to wise up. Instead, the hope is that Bible believers themselves will finally, after a long relapse, take their Book seriously wrt economic justice.

    2. rowlf

      Leftovers from when the Christian Bible was used in the 1800s to justify slavery in the US? How did the slave owners in the US motivate the non-slave owners to fight for them?

      1. occasional anonymous

        They mostly didn’t. The reality is that the Confederacy was basically an occupying power on its own territory. It was often forced to compel people to fight for it at gunpoint, and there was a significant amount of home grown resistance. In at least one case an entire county rebelled.

    3. marym

      Beyond occasionally pointing out the religious hypocrisy of particularly egregious right wing policies – which is often tempting but probably counter-productive – the secular left shouldn’t add their own hypocrisy by quoting bible verses to the religious right.

      However, religious teaching and moral responsibility have long been foundational to economic and social justice projects of religious people in the black church, other Christian denominations and organizations, the civil rights movement, the peace movement, the immigrant rights movement, Jewish and Muslim social justice movements, etc.

      What the linked article describes in the Bessemer movement seems in keeping with a tradition of religious belief and activism that’s been a part of our country’s heritage for generations.

      I have no answer as to what to do about the radical religious right’s refusal to listen to either a secular or a religious social and economic justice “narrative” if they just don’t care about any of those issues.

      1. occasional anonymous

        Beyond occasionally pointing out the religious hypocrisy of particularly egregious right wing policies – which is often tempting but probably counter-productive – the secular left shouldn’t add their own hypocrisy by quoting bible verses to the religious right.

        Yes, bashing the religious as hypocrites has worked out so well thus far! /s.

    4. Jonathan Holland Becnel


      Recognizing that every human being has dignity and worth Is a hard thing for a lot of people to understand. Especially when our polity fetishizes Neoliberalisms.

  25. RMO

    Re “I Have Come To Bury Ayn Rand” I still think the best ever “sequel” to Atlas Shrugged is the Bob The Angry Flower comic “Atlas Shrugged 2: 1 Hour Later”:

    “Murder In Galt’s Gulch” is pretty good too though.

    1. rowlf

      Originally the short story “I Was Shitting You People – A Message From Ayn Rand” by the wonderfully dark Paul Bibeau.

      I gave my lawyer instructions to release this message after my death. A joke I concocted when I was a kid has gone way, way too far. The most important thing you should know is this: Nothing I have ever written was meant to be taken seriously…Back in the early 1940s I was living in Tenafly, New Jersey with a guy named Ronnie Hubbard. He was hiding out in his brother’s basement so he could avoid the draft, and I was working at a rendering plant. Most nights we’d lie on this cot he’d found on a curb and drink, fk like weasels, and smoke opium. I’ll be honest: We smoked a sht-ton of opium. Anyway over the course of a few weeks — it’s hard to piece it all together — we started talking about pranks.

      How Ayn Rand and L. Ron Hubbard Came Up With Their Big Ideas | Stuff That Must Have Happened

      …We laughed for twenty minutes. I was tearing up, and Ronnie was wheezing like he was going to stroke out. I didn’t even know where I was going with this idea. But it felt just so f-ing wrong. In a good way. In a great way. Of course we never thought we could do any of this. You figure even the most entitled, morally backward people kind of know they’re being dicks. No one is going to believe that being selfish and irresponsible is actually a good thing. Right?

    2. The Rev Kev

      “I Have Come to Bury Ayn Rand’

      Does he need a hand? I could probably line up a van, a roll of carpet, two bags of lime and a shovel. That women has done so much damage to the modern world that it is beyond calculation. But as that article says, if it was not her it would be some other person giving the same message of ‘Objectivity’ that would have become famous instead.

      1. occasional anonymous

        Not to defend her, because she was an idiot, but I think a large part of her continued influence is because the flame of her and (what passed for) her thinking have been artificially kept alive by various big monied interests because they find keeping it alive to be useful to their aims.

        Yes, if it wasn’t her, it would have been someone else. Her continued presence in the cultural sphere is because her ideas are conducive to a certain self-serving ideology, not because they have any genuine merit. And I think picking a woman is a kind of fig leaf for libertarians, a field that is almost entirely one giant sausage fest, to pretend that they aren’t mostly sexist creeps.

    3. Ignacio

      I was hoping not to see a commentary on this as an indication that Ayn Rand’s ideology is no longer relevant. Yet the article was a nice reading and makes a point that provides the best critique I have seen against radical individualism. It is that being so radically individualistic make us more simple (simple-minded) than the simplest bacteria. At least those were able to evolve in a cooperative fashion to produce the eukaryotic cells that are the roots of all living kingdoms. Being as reductionist as Ayn Rand is close to the max reactionary stupidity level that humans can reach.

  26. The Rev Kev

    “The Right Created Boot Camps for Destroying Democracy and Voting Rights”

    This brings up an interesting pont. If politicians in States like Georgia actually break federal laws trying to cut people from the voting rolls at the instigation of the WallBuilders (making them “accessories” to a crime) and they operate across State borders, would this automatically cause the FBI to be brought in? Biden could send in the Feds to do some investigating and put those Republicans on notice that they are being watched but will he? The Democrats could also do a massive voter registration effort in States like Georgia and challenge any attempt to illegally throw people off the voting rolls but again, will they?

      1. rowlf

        A follow up:

        Known as the “Use It or Lose It” law, the bill was passed by a Democratic legislature and signed into law by Georgia Gov. Zell Miller (D.) in 1997. During this year’s contentious gubernatorial race between Republican secretary of state Brian Kemp and Democratic state senator Stacey Abrams, Abrams and progressives fumed over the cancellation of nearly 1.5 million voter registrations in Georgia since 2012, accusing Kemp of systematic voter suppression.

        Kemp said he was implementing the law, which he supports. His defenders noted Georgia’s voter rolls increased more than 20 percent since 2010 and there was a surge in voter turnout in 2018, where Kemp defeated Abrams by less than two points in one of the closest gubernatorial races in state history.

        The Journal-Constitution noted that canceling a registration takes at least six years.

        Georgia Democrats Seek Repeal of ‘Undemocratic’ Voter Purge Law Passed by Georgia Democrats NOVEMBER 20, 2018

  27. Anthony K Wikrent

    Prestowitz on “Blow Up the Global Trading System,” lies outright here: “the absence in other countries of effective labor unions and environmental and safety facilities… were simply not recognized at the time.” Every labor union in USA tried to warn there would be a “race to the bottom” exactly because of these absences.

  28. VietnamVet

    Mankind is in a global disaster movie. But the fact that the West is still clueless about the impacts after fourteen months into the pandemic is astonishing. Denial is the easiest way to avoid unpleasantness. But as the link above states, control of coronavirus requires both population immunity and suppression of virus transmission by public health measures.

    The only explanation for the failure to do both in the West is that public health is blasphemy for the ruling corporate money managers. The one and only thing that counts is making money and passing externalized costs onto someone else. Thirty eight Tyson Foods workers were killed by COVID-19. The company was fined just a couple hundreds of dollars. Essential workers are disposable. Container Ships are backed up at LA harbor due to difficulties unloading the containers. 803 longshoremen tested positive for coronavirus. The last industries left in the USA have stopped production due to part shortages. The US Post System collapsed due to illness and privatization hitting at the same time.

    Globalization and the Western Empire are falling apart. The Yemen and Afghanistan wars are lost. The Occupations of Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iraq are untenable. The question is how to keep Europe and the Americas afloat before everything seizes up and “On the Beach” plays out.

  29. Mindy

    Preservatives in food. Yet another reason to only eat organic food.

    The longer the shelf life of food, the shorter the life of those who eat that.

    Healthy food rots, spoils and needs to be eaten fresh.

  30. occasional anonymous

    >Is Democracy Still Possible? Los Angeles Review of Books

    First half of this is good, second half, not so much.

    Nor are the problems of lack of political trust and threatened legitimacy the result only of polarization. Democracy, Talisse argues is “an inherently expansionist ideal.” Simply having equivalent legal possibilities of political representation — which in any case do not obtain, owing to gerrymandering, the structure of the US Senate, and the nonrepresentation of the District of Columbia — is not sufficient to ensure that (one’s own) reasonable political arguments get a fair hearing. The wealthy can and do buy lobbyists and advertising time, as well as directly influencing the political process through campaign donations. Information flows can be controlled or distorted by the rich and powerful. Hence income and wealth, education level, information, and even job holdings must be equalized, if democracy is to be fully achieved. Since full equality in all domains is not readily achievable, the regime comes to seem undemocratic. This argument echoes Plato’s description in Book VIII of the Republic of the degeneration of democracy into tyranny, as the increasingly resentful disadvantaged turn to a strongman to redress their grievances

    I’m getting the distinct impression that ‘democracy’ here is liberal democracy. This seems to always be the case in books and articles lamenting the decline of ‘democracy’, destroyed by the dread specter of ‘populism’. For my part, I don’t want liberal democracy; I want actual democracy. The disadvantaged should be resentful. The solution however, shouldn’t be to attach ourselves to a strongman promising to claw back wealth and power from the rich. It should be to organize ourselves democratically, cut the legs out from under the rich, and eradicate them as a social class entirely. It’s not a matter of taxing wealth away from the rich, it’s about taking away their ownership of the means to generate that wealth in the first place.

    All of this is absolutely horrifying to the liberal. Good.

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