Links 4/22/2021

Credit Suisse to raise $1.9bn of capital as it reels from Archegos losses FT

Einhorn Wrong About $100M Deli Barry Ritholtz, The Big Picture

Wirecard employees removed millions in cash using shopping bags FT

Welcome to the YOLO Economy NYT

Hard Drive and SSD Shortages Could Be Imminent If New Cryptocurrency Blooms Tom’s Hardware. Big if true.

As extreme weather increases, climate misinformation adapts AP

#COVID19

World stats:

@jburnmurdoch is a good account to follow on the Twitter,.

* * *

Supply vs Demand: When Will the Scales Tip on COVID-19 Vaccination in the U.S? KFF

States have a new Covid problem: Too much vaccine Politico (Furzy Mouse).

White House offers new tax credit to help spur vaccinations AP. The excitement builds.

Most Americans say they should be vaccinated before the U.S. donates Covid-19 shots elsewhere STAT

* * *

Vaccine Breakthrough Infections with SARS-CoV-2 Variants NEJM. tl;dre: Further study needed. Fair?

Math Is Hard—but Vital for Understanding Vaccine Risks FAIR

* * *

Neoliberal State Failure Is Slowing Down Vaccine Distribution Jacobin

Scientist Linked to Great Barrington Declaration Embroiled In World Health Organization Conflict Of Interest Byline Times. Including WHO advisor Professor John Conly, who believes that the risk of acne must be weighed carefully against the risk of Covid when deciding whether to recommend N95 masks for HCWs. Of course.

A conversation with Juliette Kayyem Science. Obama-era intelligence official.

* * *

FDA orders shutdown at Emergent’s troubled plant 2 weeks after handing J&J the keys Fierce Pharma. Not doing J&J any favors, are they?

Lessons learned — and forgotten — from the horrific epidemics of the U.S. Civil War STAT

China?

How a Chinese Surveillance Broker Became Oracle’s “Partner Of The Year” The Intercept. Hard to see how an honest-to-Gawd shooting war could break out between us and China when our elites have so much invested there, but then again, Nazi German was an excellent client for IBM.

China Blasts Australia’s Decision to Cancel Belt and Road Deal Bloomberg

U.S. lawmakers intensify bipartisan efforts to counter China Reuters

LVMH, Prada, and Richemont Build a Blockchain Jing Daily

Luxury stores play nice with Chinese professional shoppers they once frowned upon, as brands’ sales and profits plummet SCMP

Myanmar

‘Economic collapse amid escalating conflict’: is Myanmar becoming a failed state? FT. Let’s all pray that Myanmar is not like Syria in that the U.S. is not funding and arming competing warlords, a fact that the FT carefully airbrushes away. Collapse is not endogenous; Myanmar is being collapsed by a mass movement — which the article makes clear in the second half, after the quotable NGOs have been cleared away.

National Unity Government of Myanmar to ASEAN:

Myanmar Junta Imported $15M Worth of Russian Radar Equipment in February Moscow Times

Junta had plotted military coup in Myanmar for years, says defecting major The Times of London

Missing Indonesian submarine has 72 hours of oxygen left, navy says BBC

India

India Covid cases forecast: India’s Covid-19 peak likely between May 11-15 with 33-35 lakh active cases: Experts Times of India

Non-stop cremations cast doubt on India’s counting of COVID dead Reuters

The Koreas

Production of Sputnik V in S. Korea to kick off in May Yonhap News Agency

Syraqistan

UNSC Watch: India Joins Russia, China in Disputing OPCW’s Latest Report on Syria The Wire

War, Peace and Taliban Spreadsheets NYT. If we could have gotten the Taliban to start using PowerPoint, we might have had a chance.

‘I stay up nights’: Afghans working for US worry about their future after Biden withdrawal announcement CNN

How COVID spurred Africa to plot a vaccines revolution Nature

Reasons the international community is unable to end the war in Tigray Ethiopia Insight

UK/EU

UK facing garden gnome shortage following the Suez Canal fiasco Independent

Johnson and Dyson: Where is the line on lobbying government? BBC. What is this “line” of which you speak?

Lateral flow Covid tests are being given to millions of schoolchildren with the WRONG instructions that they are for anyone with symptoms Daily Mail

EU Readies Legal Action Against Astra Over Vaccine Shortfall Bloomberg

Police clash with protesters as Germany passes virus law Agence France Presse

In Romania, ‘modern slaves’ burn noxious trash for a living AP

New Cold War

Putin warns West of ‘red line’ as thousands protest to back Navalny Agence France Presse

In Quotes: Putin Speaks on State of the Nation Moscow Times

Biden Administration

FTC Nominee Lina Khan Fires a Warning Shot at Big Tech – “Potential Criminal Activity” – and Senators from Both Parties Love It Matt Stoller, BIG

How Biden’s infrastructure plan may fracture the nation’s colleges Politico

Big Brother Is Watching You Watch

The Observatory of Anonymity Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic. If you want real intersectionality, here it is.

Police State Watch

Florida ‘anti-riot’ law is unconstitutional, federal lawsuit in Orlando contends Orlando Sentinel

Resources by city Don’t Call the Police

Our Famously Free Press

The CIA Used To Infiltrate The Media. Now The CIA Is The Media. Caitlin Johnstone

Intelligence Community

Australia and New Zealand play down differences over China and the ‘Five Eyes’ SCMP

A School for Spooks: The London University Department Churning Out NATO Spies Mint Press

Gunz

Freedom Rider: Gun Violence Starts at the Top Black Agenda Report

Imperial Collapse Watch

‘Bring the Troops Home’ Is a Dream, Not a Strategy John Bolton, Foreign Policy

Black Injustice Talking Point

Daunte and the Debt Collectors: How the Cops Became Robbers The Root. Law enforcement for profit, just as in Ferguson.

Remains of children killed in MOVE bombing sat in a box at Penn Museum for decades Billy Penn. Eesh.

America’s Interstate Slave Trade Once Trafficked Nearly 30,000 People a Year—And Reshaped the Country’s Economy Time. Again, a question I’d like to ask the 1619 crowd: Would slavery have persisted if it did not enable capital accumulation?

Battle Hymns of the Old South The Baffler

Class Wafare

Accused money launderers left a path of bankrupt factories, unpaid taxes, shuttered buildings and hundreds of steelworkers out of jobs Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

America’s Architecture and Construction Industry Is Broken Treehugger

Do Brain Implants Change Your Identity? The New Yorker

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

164 comments

  1. eg

    The long march of crapification continues — my phone “upgraded” to Android 11 and promptly borked my virtual Blackberry keyboard.

    Now I’m going to have to learn to use something inferior instead

    1. johnherbiehancock

      I had a similar situation with Windows Updates bashing the factory-installed hard drive on my HP laptop.

      According to HP reps, it was entirely a HD issue, not a Microsoft issue, but I found articles about MS updates killing HP LAPTOPS online. HP’s tech support board auto-deleted my comments whenever I posted the links in response to one of their tech’s telling me my only option was to visit a HP-approved repair shop to get a new HD.

      to be fair to them, when I DID replace my HD with a better one, & reinstall windows everything started working better, but it was overly suspicious to me that I had the crashes and boot drive errors only only after windows update forced my poor laptop to eventually swallow account updates, despite my best efforts to block them.

      I had to fix everything manually, BTW… youtube videos were far superior to any official tech support offered by HP. I felt like leaving my laptop with the techie creeps at HP’s local repair shop affiliate was like letting the fox guard the hen house.

      I could easily see the cost to repair the laptop exceeding the value once they got their hands on it.

    2. Jason Boxman

      True story. Back in 2012 or thereabouts, there was a great swype style keyboard for Android. Google bought it, and Google’s own swype implementation was and remains garbage to this day. It might take 5 attempts to get a word to come out correctly.

      Thanks Google!

      1. Alex

        I’m going to let you in on some Silicon Valley insider knowledge: Google actually isn’t any good at software.

        SHHHHHH!

      2. Geof

        Two Google anecdotes.

        One: Google Authenticator is a widely-used app for 2-factor authentication. Occasionally it won’t work until you get it to do a network sync. One day the codes on my phone stopped working, and the network synchronization failed with a “try again later” error message. Trying later did not work.

        I looked up the problem online. It was a known bug, which a few people had run into over several years. One poor sap posted to the Google forums saying he had lost access to the data on which his business was built. He had posts years apart pleading for a fix. Google did not respond.

        Two: Android 4.4 introduced new restrictions that prevented different apps from accessing shared folders on an SD card. This was done for legitimate security reasons, but there was no work around – no way for users to say, “actually, I want to allow this particular sharing.” Many users complained. One, a lawyer, said that his professional workflow dependend on being able to have multiple apps access the files he used for work. A Google engineer responded: having multiple apps access the same files does not make sense. We have no intention to change the behaviour. Your workflow is wrong. The lawyer said, there is no other way to do what I need. But the Google guy was a broken record: you’re doing it wrong.

        Eventually Google introduced APIs to allow apps to share files. It never caused me any trouble personally. But the etherial, imperial arrogance of the engineer (working in customer support!) demolished any faith I had ever had in Google.

        1. JCC

          Classic monopoly rentier behavior. People don’t own their phones, they rent them, and the rentier decides how they are allowed to use them.

    3. BoyDownTheLane

      In years past, people used to look for used Plymouths with an inline six. Durabilty? You couldn’t kill it.

    4. albrt

      I am still using an actual BlackBerry. I credit lack of updates as the reason it has survived.

  2. allan

    Georgia Tech structure certified as ‘living building’ [AP]

    Not exactly what you need during a pandemic, but who could have predicted.

    In an Earth Day ode to a foundation-funded 8th Wonder of the World, we read

    … For example, the building does not have conventional air conditioning. … Designers also
    focused on keeping inside and outside air separate, meaning the building has few air leaks. …

    Nobody was ever fired for buying IBM LEED.

  3. timbers

    Daunte and the Debt Collectors: How the Cops Became Robbers The Root. Law enforcement for profit, just as in Ferguson.

    Verses:

    Accused money launderers left a path of bankrupt factories, unpaid taxes, shuttered buildings and hundreds of steelworkers out of jobs Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    We don’t see money launderers gunned down in the streets for minor traffic violations, do we?

    1. Bob

      So wait a minute — money launderers can transfer billions even though the Feds have restrictions on transferring amounts greater than $ 10,000. ?

      Where are the Feds ?

      Another example of the two tier enforcement system presently in place in the US.

      Perhaps the inscriptions of “Equal Justice for All” can be chiseled off the stone edifices that contain the so called justice system. They could even use infrastructure funds.

    2. Pookah Harvey

      Ever watch an old gangster movie where the mafiosa thug threatens broken bones if a civilian doesn’t follow the “rules”. Here’s the modern day version with Walmart sending out their “public servant” thugs to get retribution for breaking the “rules”. You know, to protect and serve the corporate interests. You need a strong stomach to watch.

      Video:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=deLlROkphCw

      Guardian story:
      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2021/apr/21/colorado-police-arrest-woman-with-dementia-break-arm-karen-garner

      1. EGrise

        You need a strong stomach to watch.

        Agreed: that was one of the most despicable things I’ve ever seen, and with the events of the past year that’s saying a lot.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Missing Indonesian submarine has 72 hours of oxygen left, navy says”

    Not looking good for the submariners of the KRI Nanggala-402. The area where she sank is about 600-700 meters deep – deeper than the maximum endurance level for that class of submarine which is about 257 meters (843 ft). An oil slick has been spotted near the position of that sub when it started its last dive so the search teams are concentrating on this area. I fear that eventually it will be found that that sub imploded like that Argentinian submarine back in 2017-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/KRI_Nanggala_(402)

  5. zagonostra

    >‘Bring the Troops Home’ Is a Dream, Not a Strategy John Bolton – Foreign Policy

    [Pundits say] The American people are tired of foreign military engagements…They are all wrong.

    In Biden’s own words, the United States obviously cannot “ensure” that terrorists will not again use a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan as a base to strike the U.S. homeland. Biden recognizes this danger by saying the United States will maintain “our counterterrorism capabilities and the substantial assets in the region” to guard against a future strike.

    Biden, having in effect tacitly admitted that the United States has not achieved its basic objective of safeguarding the homeland

    Maybe it’s the title of the Baffler article and Bolton’s article in FP that stopping U.S.’s global wars is only “dream of come home, America” and a “mantra” that makes me think of the lyrics to the Battle Hymn Republic. There will be no end of American military oversea interventions. John Bolton sees the coming of the Glory of the Lord in the terrible swift sword and “we” will never retreat…

    Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord
    He is trapling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored
    He have loosed the faiteful lightening of his terrible swift sword
    His truth is marching on

    Chorus

    I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps
    They have builded him an altar in the evening dews and damps
    I have read his righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps
    His truth is marching on

    Chorus

    I have read a fiery gospel writ in burnish’d rows of steel
    As ye deal with my condemners so with you my grace shall deal
    Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel
    His truth is marching on

    Chorus

    He has sounded form the trumpet that shall never call retreat
    He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment-seat
    Oh, be swift, my soul to answer, oh be jubilant, my feet
    His truth is marching on

    Chorus

    In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea
    With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me
    As he died to make men holy let us die to make men free
    His truth is marching on

    1. Stephen

      John Bolton and people of his ilk are utterly delusional.

      The core root of the problem…we never defined the goal. So we could not achieve success. It was a structural problem.

      We have lost this war. Admit defeat and leave. We should have left the same year the Aghan state held its first post-Taliban election. The entire enterprise has been sheer folly.

      These people simply don’t read history. They have led us down a road to ruin and will never admit their failure.

      1. Alfred

        I think there were goals toward personal agendas. The idea of doing something for the whole would only be a propaganda thing to get others to go along.

        1. km

          “The idea of doing something for the whole world only be a propaganda thing to get others to go along.”

          Were Bolton and his ilk honest (lol), that sentence would read “The idea of doing something TO the whole world…..”

      2. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

        Oh, I think the goal was well defined a long time ago, it’s just not made explicit, nor does it conform to any of the socio-psycho myths about American (I wish their was another adjective for the U.S.A.) military activities around the globe. I think “those people” are well versed in history, their reading of it is just very different from yours (and mine.)

        1. Stephen

          Perhaps I should, in this rare occasion, express my thoughts in a more self serving manner. Which is somewhat refreshing, as I am able to do so rarely.

          These people read history the wrong way.

          It reminds me of the famous quote, attributed to General Westmoreland. When asked what lessons could be learned from the French experience with their own Indochinese adventures, he replied with a terse rebuttal. None. Because they lost, and so he had nothing to learn from them. And subsequently did not seek their consul.

          So it goes.

          1. Procopius

            This from a man who chose to use a strategy of attrition in waging a land war in Asia. To this day the State Department and the Pentagon eschew people who actually know anything about a country when making plans for what to do there. It goes back to the right-wing delusion that we “lost” China because the State Department experts, who warned repeatedly that our policies were wrong, “were soft on Communism.”

      3. a different chris

        >These people simply don’t read history.

        Of course not. What they see in their little self-centered brains is a future where people who do read history will read about them. Which they probably will be correct, but it won’t be in the glowing terms they expect.

        Remember the famous anonymous quote from some Bushie – “…We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do’.”

        That’s the mindset of who, and who always has, run “civilization”. And will until the Earth gives out under their stupidity. Excuse me whilst I go puke.

        1. Stephen

          Mr. Cheney….

          “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out.”

          That’s how things sort out indeed.

      4. Katniss Everdeen

        “We have lost this war.” Define “we.”

        A shitload of money has been made…er…gdp generated…over the past 20 years off this “war,” and shitloads will be made in the future. If it wasn’t Afghanistan, it would have been someplace else.

        The american war machine has used the Afghanistan opportunity to transform itself into a massive private contractor profit bonanza and post military service job generator. The actual military has been reduced to a federally funded meat processing operation.

        This is / was not a “war” in the John Wayne sense, it was economic “growth” and support of american corporate “global competitiveness.”

        1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

          That’s a very cogent analysis. Someone is always winning.

          I can’t imagine the “Non-Negotiable, Blessed American Way of Life” (Dick Cheney) continuing to exist without an overwhelming Imperial military presence all over the world. That’s why all the “Progressives” in Congress won’t say “boo” about it.

          They’re winning, too.

          As is every 1 ton pickup driver “rolling coal” down the motorway.

          If one calls that “winning.”

          P.S.

          The Silicon Valley Randroids are winning, too.

        2. Carla

          “The actual military has been reduced to a federally funded meat processing operation.”

          That, and an apprenticeship for policing cities and towns throughout the U.S. Gives the “war on poverty” a meaning quite different than the one Lyndon Johnson had in mind.

          1. newcatty

            Indeed. When”troops” are killed, maimed or traumatized( “PTSD”) it is just the “wages of war”. Strange wages for the troops and lucrative for the MIC. This “apprenticeship” for the militarization of police forces is front and center in the public sphere. Young people, for the most part, killed, maimed or traumatized is normalized in the American society. Veterans and young people committing, or attempting, suicide. Whether it’s in “serving” in the military, the police forces or as kids on the streets, mostly of color, many of our children are being sacrificed . Add to that realization, the kids suffering from homelessness, neglect and abuse, and stark “food insufficiency ” (ffs, hunger), poor or interrupted education, the polluted food, water and air; you have a society that gives away it’s own children.

            The lure of serving in the military is becoming tarnished, as more awful outcomes for those young people becomes clear. We know a young man, who joined the military with the assurance he would not be a mope in lower ranks. He is very “smart” and was certain to be in a prestigious role. So, it came to pass. He is an officer in “elte” branch. Will retire in couple of years. But, damn, if he didn’t catch the virus while on an assignment. He developed “serious complications” from it. He is now on desk duty and will be a person with a chronic condition for life. He gave virus to family. One child now has a serious heart condition.

            Its a pipeline from military to MIC jobs for the “smart” and, often, the police and border patrol, etc., for the mopes.

            Let’s change this created ( and sustained “reality,” propagandized by mainstream media). How will we do this? Maybe a critical shift is starting to move in the direction of the opposite of the current paradigm.

    2. Susan the other

      If John Yosemite Bolton wants to use a certain “strategy” for our foreign relations he’s gonna have to tell us what it will achieve. Someone should counsel him so he begins to understand that there are as many “strategies” as there are people in this world, and paranoia is never a good one.

    3. Synoia

      the United States obviously cannot “ensure” that terrorists will not again use a Taliban-dominated Afghanistan as a base to strike the U.S. homeland

      How would they execute? It’s a long walk, with some major wet gaps in the middle.

      Does he know where Afghanistan is? Landlocked in Central Asia?

    4. chuck roast

      Everybody knows what John Bolton is and is not. Foreign Policy knows what John Bolton is and is not. FP gives John Bolton a platform and a megaphone for his nonsense. The John Bolton’s of the world would have a difficult time getting their messages out and retaining the remotest shreds of respectability without such platforms. What is it Lambert says? “If you are dependent a platform, then you are out of luck.” Uh…not so much.

  6. John Siman

    As someone who grew up as a George McGovern liberal in North Carolina, I object to the tone of Barry Yeomen’s Baffler essay “Battle Hymns of the Old South,” for it seems intended to confirm a supercilious upscale audience in the smugness of their media-induced anti-white-southern moral superiority. Yeoman’s use of the empty historical term “neo-confederates,” for example, comes across as disdainful and insulting as the use of the slang “yt” would have been.

    I suggest readers take a look at Dean-Paul Stephens piece, “Civil rights coalition, NAACP, reaches settlement with Alamance County,” which begins:

    “A new legal settlement allows for the use of “swear” words on signs at protests in Alamance County without fear of arrest and requires sheriff’s deputies to undergo racial bias training, among other things.

    “The Alamance County NAACP and others hope a settlement with county officials will prevent what the legal document described as future civil rights violations stemming from protests on the county-owned old courthouse property, the location of a Confederate monument.”

    https://www.thetimesnews.com/story/news/2021/04/21/civil-rights-coalition-reaches-settlement-alamance-county-confederate-monument-marches-rights/7318616002/

    1. doug

      I have always lived in North Carolina and my first presidential vote was for George MCGovern. I enjoyed the article by Barry Yeomen, and sent the link to several others. Where I live now in a small town, the word ‘neo-confederate’ is considered a complement by some. The Jefferson Davis Highway runs near by, and the confederate flag is still found on flagpoles…

    2. Carolinian

      Hey every ruling class needs a whipping boy although the author of the article is a resident of NC according to the tag at the end.

      That said, if one wanted to go looking for the Lost Cause NC might be the place and I would contend that rural NC is a lot more retro than the same in SC. The state as a whole has a fifty percent lower black percentage and in parts of western NC you probably won’t find very many African Americans at all (Mayberry of course had none). When SC took down the Confederate flag in Columbia some years back the KKK protestors who showed up were from NC.

      We have one of those Confederate statues here, put up by the “Daughters of the Confederacy.” It was moved off public property long before the recent fracas and nobody seems too worked up about it–too busy building new housing for Northern transplants.

  7. Terry Flynn

    Re Math is hard. NC has posted several good links recently about the difficulties in presenting and understanding numbers (including Bayesian statistics etc). One conclusion I remember (which holds true for the other articles IMHO) is in line with my own experience of teaching statistics to medical doctors. Don’t try to do it “properly”. Most medical doctors are mathematically incompetent in my experience and NC recently backed up this anecdote with a survey link showing 75% can’t interpret test efficacy correctly.

    Instead, I believe a core topic for all kids from a certain age should be a more “practical” course teaching them “basic common sense questions to automatically ask” as soon as the media or a marketing ad presents a figure. You can start with showing nice (even if artificial) examples: for example, “this toothpaste halves the number of people getting problem x” in an advert should cause ALL people to automatically ask “what was the absolute number with problem x to start with?” Suppose it was 67 million (approx UK population) – the toothpaste is potential game changer. Suppose it was 2. Congratulations, a new toothpaste that cures ONE person in the country. /sarc

    I no longer can do Bayesian calculations in my head automatically when sensitivity and specificity are quoted for a clinical test. However, I can (and did) go “uh-oh” when I hear numbers for a test (like the early Covid-19 one and the easier one still used) because of rules of thumb. Teach everyone rules of thumb so nobody gets taken in by statistical and mathematical tomfoolery. Get their “intuition” corrected early on is the only answer. They don’t need to know how to do the math.

    1. Halcyon

      I attended a few lectures once on the theme of “statistics for journalists” which were along these lines and very informative. Unfortunately it seems like many journalists have not availed themselves of these lessons (or don’t care)

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I agree wholeheartedly, a combination of critical thinking and well chosen ‘rules of thumb’ are in my opinion far more important skills than being able to pass a standard University statistics exam.

      1. vlade

        Only if the rule-of-thumb includes “don’t do linear regression”. If there was a single most misused statistical tool, linreg it is. (because it also includes stuff like p, etc..). You can fit _anything_ on a curve.

        My calculus professor used to absolutely hate the “finish this sequence” maths “problems”. Because I can find you a function (even a polynomial one, doesn’t have to that hard) that will have literally any value as the next one, so I can justify any value there.

        1. Terry Flynn

          Indeed. But it gets worse: the trouble is even lots of TRAINED statisticians don’t understand the problems with limited dependent variable (logit/probit) models. IIRC you are one of only about 3 people among the commentariat who have piped up when I’ve quoted the small print in the Stata/SPSS/whatever manuals describing logistic and probit regressions. Conduct linear regression and there’s heteroscedasticity? Meh – only your standard errors are wrong. Conduct logit/probit regression and there’s heteroscedasticity? You are familyblogged. Your beta estimates (means) are literally not estimable and unless you “know what you don’t know” then the program will make a very convenient assumption (unflagged) to give you numbers that might be TOTALLY FALSE.

          This is literally why EVERY single opinion poll has typically been wrong since the simple “left/right spectrum” ceased to be the only measure of political loyalty. It is why the UK 2017 General Election was correctly called by only two organisations/people: YouGov (using their “alternative” model based on TWO equations to solve the “two unknowns” issue in the likelihood function) and me (who did so too, but freely admit was lucky – I happened to have run the “right” kind of survey just before Theresa May sprung that surprise GE on us).

          I made money at the bookies on the bet made using the data showing she was about to lose her overall majority (when NONE of the pollsters/bookies had that as “likely”). Pity I lost most of it on a secondary bet that was not based on my data but on my heart and desires. Moral of the story? Two sets of data for prediction and never ever bet using your emotions. I should have known better. Here’s my latest tidbit for a local political organisation who have picked up my stuff a lot. Starmer’s change from +17ish to -2 net approval rating could represent NO CHANGE. And no, I’m not talking variation and confidence intervals. If you understand logit models you’ll know why.

          1. BillC

            OK, where can a first-year college calculus dropout go to get a conceptual understanding of how logit/probit functions work and where (if any) they may be used appropriately. (Wikipedia lost me on the first paragraph. OTOH, maybe, like relativity, if you don’t have the math, you can’t ever grok it.)

            1. Terry Flynn

              Sadly, this is indeed somewhat like relativity, but over time I’ve tried various ways to give the “intuition” when teaching. I hope I don’t get into trouble for referencing myself but this paper (links straight to the pdf, the journal shortly after stopped being open access, grrr) is, although technical in sections, also has some “intuition” in certain paragraphs.

              The paper kinda sets out a lot of the stuff I had to learn/relearn about logit/probit models when I moved into choice modelling from more conventional medical statistics/health econometrics. I was now working with giants like Carson – whose work partially informed the damages for the Exxon-Valdez disaster.

              Key intuition though: you observe a pattern of data (person 1 democrat, person 2 republican, person 3 democrat….). The logit/probit function tries to find out what mean and variance gives the highest likelihood of observing that set of data. The problem is basically that the mean (x) and (function of) variance (y) are in an equation equivalent to xy=8, solves for x and y. See the problem? Infinite solutions. Stata etc just goes “familyblog it, set y=1”. It “normalises” (makes up a value for) y. If everyone in sample has identical y then this works OK. Trouble is every time we test it we find you and I DON’T show equal consistency/certainty in our responses. This then biases x (mean) estimates. Whole loada trouble if you have assumed any change in “democrat support” came from means (x) when in fact it came from variances (y). Worse examples when you get into health arena….

    3. Mme Generalist

      A good article. It’s discussion about journalism, statistical reporting, and public health is sound.

      What isn’t being discussed enough is that we also don’t have good journalism on the actual study outcomes, their numerical value, and the “unknown unknowns” with these new vaccines. This is important because without it individuals who have serious underlying health conditions can’t make informed choices. This is especially true in a healthcare landscape where many patients aren’t treated by a doc that actually knows them and their history well.

      The tension between public health concerns and individual medical decisions is real and necessary. Right now the narrative leans toward discrediting those who face potentially having to make difficult trade-offs and are desperate for some clear guidance on a path forward as CT or anti-vax.

    4. Socal Rhino

      To me it is usually just another variation on the need for active listening or reading to spot obvious omissions, ambiguities, or other slights of hand. Referring to 0.0008 as less than 0.1, for example, isn’t a math trick really. More like the muck that Lambert wades through in his waders when he parses a speech.

      The misuses of confidence intervals in looking at data is different, to me, and reminds me how everyone on twitter suddenly became expert epidemiologists last Spring.

    5. chuck roast

      Very complex indeed. I was stumbling around my athenaeum a few weeks ago and I saw a little little book wedged in between its bigger similarly ancient brethren. It was called Marine Architecture. The staff person at the desk informed that he would notify the antiquarian, and she would pull it for me the following week. I would get an email as to when I could look at it. OK fine.

      The next week I went upstairs to the antiquarians and she had the 8X6 book opened for me to the first page. At first sight it had undergone major conservation. I was told that I was welcome to turn the pages, and I didn’t need gloves. It was published in London in 1753 and was meant as a tutorial and guide to ship builders. The first few pages were small essays on the use of a straight edge and a set of dividers. It was then made clear that this (along with a few squares tables) was all one needed to plan, design and lay-up a 66′ ship. I kept picking my jaw up off the table…there were rules, but no ruler, there were arcs, but no ships curves. Astonishing! Not an algorithm in sight. It was enough to make me go looking for Euclid’s Elements.

  8. The Rev Kev

    “UNSC Watch: India Joins Russia, China in Disputing OPCW’s Latest Report on Syria”

    The trigger for this may have been the vote to strip Syria of voting rights at the OPCW this week. The motion was brought up by France and other western countries and was passed by 87 to 15, with 34 abstentions out of 136 countries taking part. My guess is that none of those 87 countries imagine that one day that they too may be accused of using chemical weapons. Good luck with that, mate. The OPCW is at this point a fraud organization that will manufacture consent for nations wanting to attack other countries as was proved when they re-wrote the Syria report to make Syria be the guilty party in a Jihadist chemical attack fraud.

    https://www.rt.com/news/521708-opcw-votes-syria-penalties/

    I notice too that the EU Parliament has gone full neocon and are now shutting down Parliamentary members who question the authenticity of the OPCW’s reports. I have seen this happen twice now and both members were from Ireland as it turns out. One was Mick Wallace but I regret I cannot remember the name of the Irish female Parliamentarian-

    https://www.rt.com/news/521143-eu-parliament-opcw-fake-news/

  9. John A

    Re BBC article about where you draw the line.

    It was written by Laura Kuenssberg, Johnson groupie number 1 at the Boris Broadcasting Corporation. No doubt Kuenssberg will conclude the line can be drawn just beyond where Johnson steps.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, John.

      Her husband, James Kelly, works next door at the Cabinet Office. He has been on long term secondment from McKinsey since the coalition.

      Kuenssberg was a Tory student activist. As were her colleagues Nick Robinson, best friends and fellow activist with Brian Redhead’s son, and Andrew Neil.

          1. Colonel Smithers

            Thank you, Weimer. The latter is correct.

            In the 1930s, someone mapped how about 400 Tory MPs were cousins of varying degrees.

            1. newcatty

              Wow, wonder how close are those “varying degrees. In this country it has been a source of derision of , and painting with a broad brush against southern “Appalachian” people. They are the bottom of a social and economic class. In the UK…The opposite? To put a aluminum foil beret on my grey head, are blood lines involved in Tory circles of influence? Used to only think of that practice of “close” relatives intermarriage at the higher Royals world.

              1. drumlin woodchuckles

                How many of these ToryLords are descended in whole or in part from the Norman French invaders?

  10. JohnMc

    I find it puzzling that these stories about breakthrough covid infections of ‘fully vaccinated’ persons do nothing to describe the characteristics of those infected. It seems widely accepted that those most in need of protection from the flu (the elderly) also mount the least effective response to a flu vaccine.

    It would seem logical that this same dynamic occurs with a covid vaccine and therefore ‘breakthrough’ might have little or nothing to do with variants evading the vaccination response. i understand that the NEJM story did cite the measurement of an adequate antibody titer in a single individual but that is only one part of a successful immune response.

    1. flora

      an aside about the current state of med journals :

      From Off Guardian, a video (~40 min) about ghost written articles appearing as legit “peer reviewed” papers in med journals. (I remember a post or comments at NC that questioned the poor quality of some recent, important articles appearing in prestigious med journals.)

      “The pharmaceutical industry is manufacturing all these medical journal articles, behind the scenes, for marketing purposes.”

      https://off-guardian.org/2021/04/20/watch-perspectives-on-the-pandemic-13/

    2. Cuibono

      Exactly. This is true for every vaccine i can think of.
      those who need it most benefit least.

  11. pjay

    – ‘UNSC Watch: India Joins Russia, China in Disputing OPCW’s Latest Report on Syria’ – The Wire

    The mainstream media silence on this story is as despicable as the rest of its coverage of Syria. The OPCW’s Investigation and Identification Team (ITT) operated much like Cheney’s Office of Special Plans in the Pentagon, controlling the flow and interpretation of “evidence” to support their desired conclusion. Aaron Mate testified at this UNSC Arria meeting. I can’t remember if this has been posted, but if so it’s worth putting up again:

    https://thegrayzone.com/2021/04/18/at-un-aaron-mate-debunks-opcws-syria-lies-and-confronts-us-uk-on-cover-up/

    I doubt that this small move by India will do much to dent the massive Western propaganda campaign against Syria. But it is encouraging to see even a little pushback from somewhere other than Russia or China.

    1. Procopius

      Why is the abbreviation/acronym used in about 3/4 of the articles “ITT,” and only in a minority of places “IIT,” which I would think more logical?

  12. PlutoniumKun

    America’s Architecture and Construction Industry Is Broken Treehugger

    Unfortunately, this illustrates that perhaps the biggest obstacle to building more sustainable homes and offices and other buildings is the local building code. Houses in most northern European countries are vastly more energy efficient than those in the US because the local codes insist on this. And an industry of high quality building products grows up to supply the construction industry. You can’t leave this to individual choice as most building clients in my opinion don’t really know what they want beyond the basics and are content to just go with minimal regulation/code requirements. It takes significant experience and knowhow to be a client for building a low impact structure, let alone be the engineer/architect/builder.

      1. barefoot charley

        Very interesting and telling. Builders don’t want to mess around with charging cars and weaning cooks off gas. Can’t blame them really, but what a brazen power play, brushing off the many city initiatives that face the future.

    1. russell1200

      The Europeans are better able to put into place consistent regulations that are country wide. It helps that they tend to be small, and don’t have the variety of differing conditions, but still…

      The US emphasis (through the NFPA), going back to the late 19th century has been on safety.

      So when I read the article, and it complains about the requirement for more than one point of egress, I am like…. ah yah, no kidding. Some of our most catastrophic fire death totals have come because of people inability to get out of a building where a fire got started at….the main/only point of egress.

      When I see calls for more “modular” construction, it just makes me think of more factory-produced caprification. Sure you can make some very high end modular buildings. But downstream from those few high end buildings are a whole lot of buildings looking a lot like our mobile home industry. Not awful to live in, but not exactly the high point of beauty.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Yes, I was a little puzzled about his objection to single points of egress, although it is certainly possible to design a safe building with a single egress (assuming it is maintained correctly, and not, like the ones I saw everywhere in Korea, kept wide open for ventilation purposes).

        I think you are right too about the safety emphasis. Its the same in Japan where the codes are almost all about earthquake and tsunami and fire safety, with nothing about energy or comfort. I was really surprised on my first visit there to see just how terrible building quality can me.

        One way around the issue can be marketing. In Ireland its not unusual to see buildings advertised as being built to Swedish or German standards. Although this does ignore the fact that sometimes local regulations are necessary for local conditions. Her in Ireland, buildings have to take account of the fact that rain doesn’t fall vertically, it comes at pretty much any angle ,at any velocity. This has come to a nasty surprise sometimes to non-Irish home builders. Germans in particular can never seem to get their heads around rain that doesn’t fall at a nice clean angle from the sky.

        But the most successful single way in my opinion to bring up building standards is to make energy consumption figures compulsory on all sales materials. This is now standard in the EU and it makes it very plain to any buyer just how good or bad the house they are interested in. Getting an A+ rating is a major boon to any marketing company, they always highlight it in their materials as people are now used to using it as a proxy for building quality.

        1. a different chris

          >energy consumption figures compulsory

          Tricky though, isn’t it? If one water heater says X euros/yr “typical user cost”, and the other is 2X euros, and the purchase price is the inverse factor, it makes a big difference what the scale of X is compared to the purchase price.

          And that is where the gaming comes in….

          Of course you Europeans have understandably a lot more faith in TPTB than us Americans.

          1. David

            As PK says, it’s compulsory in Europe. In France, every advertisement for a house or an apartment features supporting data, including a standard energy classification which runs from A to G, where A is the best. In general, before you sell a house or apartment, you have to produce a set of diagnostics, showing that everything is up to date with the latest building standards, including things like electrical safety, and, if not, this has to be clearly explained to the purchaser. The government also plays a role: from 2030, for example, it will be illegal to rent a house or apartment at energy standard E or below, which means something like two million dwellings will need to be upgraded over the next decade.

            1. weimer

              Must be a Western EU privilege; EU states to the est do not seem to have such requirements. Bought RE a couple of times; no mention of energy consumption – though, it would have helped.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        In Virginia, which has both the strongest set of Dillon’s Rules, which means localities can’t do anything unless it’s prescribed by the state government, and most of the independent cities in the US, what you find is local governments will pass resolutions and lobby their state legislators who will basically fail to build a coalition around a zoning ordinance or tell constituents it’s a local issue. Eventually the localities move on to something else because they have to come up with a solution while the state legislature dithers. The independent cities do good stuff on occasion, but the neighboring counties never do anything to pressure the independent cities to be really good.

        “Independent cities” are largely free of State control as long as they maintain certain federal minimums which are not bad minimums.

      3. Carolinian

        That article is very much comparing different things by suggesting we are not like Germany or (ultrarich) Switzerland. Germany is nation of renters where landlords can innovate and population density encourages multifamily. The US on the other hand consists of home “investors” who no doubt drive the conservative zoning and construction codes far more than the industry itself. We do have a New Urbanism movement with unusual buildings and greater density in even my downtown. But while this has been going on the first thought of some is “where do they park?” because you still can’t function in much of America without a car.

        1. Framer

          https://www.treehugger.com/america-architecture-construction-industry-broken-5179337

          The cheap multifamily, plywood and stucco palazzios that are built around here blow that out of the water.

          Besides the prevalence of the pension coddling code parasites in local building departments and state standards writers is a generalization about the actual construction.

          Because of immigration policy and legislative actions, the majority of construction tradesmen in the U.S. are now Hispanic immigrants, either legal or illegals.They are excellent at improvising, at masonry construction, cobbling things together and building basic framing and they work cheap and fast, hence their predominance.

          However, the down side of fast, cheap and quick construction is lack of quality. Most cannot read, write or speak English as their first language. Complex manuals, new technology, innovative materials, are resisted, refused and don’t get the proper installation. And they won’t without language instruction, technical training and long apprenticeships, something that is not going to happen in the current construction labor market.

          1. Carolinian

            I’ll pass on the disparaging of Hispanic construction workers while agreeing that they seem to frame all the new houses around here and do so with amazing speed. Hard work that.

            But of course the “quality” of a house likely has far more to do with the rest of the job and the materials used. Today’s lumber is nothing like the rock hard yellow pine of yore. Of course in the old days good insulation an afterthought and now even American houses have quite a lot of it

    2. WhoaMolly

      Re: America’s Architecture and Construction Industry Is Broken Treehugger

      We are in middle of the code/permitting/ADU muddle. The author’s frustration resonates with me.

      Would love to use some of the innovative things listed but our architect suggests that the increased cost and hassle of dealing with permits and codes is most likely prohibitive.

      The equally interesting part of the article is the comments section. Before it devolves into politics about 10. comments down it’s a very interesting insight into some architect counter arguments.

    3. chuck roast

      I remember having a discussion with a noted New Urbanist back in the ’90s when New Urbanism was new. He told me that there were around 17 different templates or formats for residential and commercial development that banks would approve for development loans. If a developer deemed to design or plan a project that was not in conformance with any of these templates, then no loan would be forthcoming. I thought this to be a significant straight jacket because developers were notorious for using anybody elses money but their own.

  13. Wukchumni

    Welcome to the YOLO Economy NYT
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    We’re kind of on the bucket list in a big way here with the largest trees on this good orb, and I enjoy watching reactions of people glimpsing them for the first time.

    Sequoias show up on the Generals Highway around the turnoff for Crystal Cave (one of approx 250 caves in Sequoia NP) and there’s a 10 foot wide attraction that is a magnet in stopping cars as its an easy get a dozen feet from the road-the first one you can be with, touch its bark-which if blindfolded you might think by the feel that its a multi-layered velvety paper mâché instead…

    It’s probably the most visited tree other than the Sherman & Grant trees, which are about 3x as big, ha ha!

    We essentially had no winter here and in what would be in times before Covid, our shoulder season-but not this year. It has been flat out busy with mostly Californians, some from other states and the occasional wealthier Mexican national, but really no other foreigners, which used to comprise 40% of visitation.

    If its busy now, it’ll be a summer of 3 to 4 mile back-ups just to get past the entrance to the main part of the NP with only domestic help, but imagine adding in YOLO foreigners eager to do the California loop…

    On the weekends if you don’t get a parking spot by say 10 a.m. in the Giant Forest where the biggest trees are, you’re out of luck in finding one unless you bird dog the asphalt waiting for your chance, otherwise for you, Sequoia NP is merely a drive-by sensation, please move along.

    That said, I encourage a visit for as they say, you only live once.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “‘Bring the Troops Home’ Is a Dream, Not a Strategy”

    Yeah, but for John Bolton occupying the planet is his strategy as much as a dream. But good news everybody. John Bolton has seen the light and is on his way for a tour of duty in Afghanistan. It’s true. After talking to buddies in the Pentagon, he has re-enlisted in the Maryland Air National Guard and by this time next week will be walking a perimeter at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan. When asked, he admitted that it was a pretty chickens*** thing to send young men and women to their deaths overseas but that when he had his chance during the Vietnam war, sought a student deferment before enlisting in the Maryland Air National Guard to dodge going to ‘Nam. He also admitted to being thoroughly embarrassed to write in his Yale 25th reunion book: “I confess I had no desire to die in a Southeast Asian rice paddy. I considered the war in Vietnam already lost.” No more! he says. After donning an armoured vest and slapping a Kevlar helmet on his head, he says that he is now ready to do the right thing for the first time in his life. Cocking his M4 Carbine, he shouted ‘C’mon Afghanistan – let’s see what you got!’ before going to the Air Force transport.

    1. Wukchumni

      Endgame Vietnam: Pushing helicopters over the side

      Endgame Stanbox: Pushing MRAP’s on police departments

      Historians in the year 2525 if human is still alive, will be baffled by why we went to war for 20 years half way around the world in a place that could double as Nevada with endless basin & range, most of it not worth occupying.

      Any evidence of profiteering via poppy or poppycock corporate sponsors such as Haliburton will be long since gone, what did we want to accomplish there?

      1. Framer

        Lots of oil in the South China Sea, Tungsten in the mountains of Vietnam, Rubber in Indonesia, that was what was at stake, plus the influences of Bell Helicopter on LBJ’s and the Democrats’ bank accounts. In Afghanistan, a large proportion of the world’s rare earth minerals that make further defense related products possible. That’s what’s at stake. Walmart is not hiring, so you laddies can go get your legs blown off there for “freedom”.

        1. Wukchumni

          You can’t help but notice on the Wounded Warrior Project commercials that they’re using Johnny Got His Gun cases as of late, just $19 a month will assuage your conscience for being part of the 99% that didn’t enlist…

          …operators are standing by

          Call Now!

        2. Procopius

          I wonder sometimes if the people who wanted to profit from the two or three TRILLION dollars of valuable minerals supposed to be in Afghanistan thought the Army would build roads, to fight the war, that would enable them to get to the minerals and make a profit. As Sidney Powell put it, no reasonable person could believe the reasons given for staying in Afghanistan were true. Instead, the Army wasted vast amounts of money on contractors to hire third world drivers at starvation wages, to wrestle trucks over donkey tracks to deliver supplies. Joke’s on them.

  15. Mikel

    Supply vs Demand: When Will the Scales Tip on COVID-19 Vaccination in the U.S? KFF

    I’m still trying to figure out how herd immunity is achieved with shots that offer temporary protection – protection that is mainly described as if you do catch the virus, it just won’t make you as sick.

    Something that would better help to achieve herd immunity seems to be something, anything, that prevents the spread of the virus. Because as long as it can still spread it can still mutate.
    As long as it mutates, it’s just a long game of whack-a-mole on the variants, which I’m sure pharma doesn’t mind playing to infinity $$$$.

    Having to get injected yearly is not immunity.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It wont be achieved with the current vaccine regimens and distribution. My understanding is the 80% number traditionally doesn’t include the elderly and the immune compromised which we dosed first because of the mortality rate jumps. Innoculating that 80% ends the ability of a virus to transmit, and it simply dies out. We saw lockdowns, masking, and tending to air supplies in buildings have worked, but for international trade and travel.

      Not getting as sick is a good deal better than the alternative. Can a combination of masking, vaccines, and immunity due to being infected work? I guess we will find out. The goal isn’t herd immunity as much as creating the conditions where Covid has no hosts capable of shedding the virus.

      1. Mikel

        “The goal isn’t herd immunity as much as creating the conditions where Covid has no hosts capable of shedding the virus.”

        I brought up “herd immunity” I don’t think the way you worded the goal is what is in the minds of people that go around saying things like ” by July 4th people can run around mask free” and other variations of the “back to ‘normal'” fairy tale.

    2. Maritimer

      “I’m still trying to figure out how herd immunity is achieved with shots that offer temporary protection – protection that is mainly described as if you do catch the virus, it just won’t make you as sick.”
      **********
      You are not alone. One factor in all this is Overlap, that is some shots in February, March, April, May….etc. So, if shot is good for 6 months as generally claimed, then Herd Immunity has to be much higher that whatever figure they choose which seems now to be around 70%. In short, as you vaccinate the back end, the front end is no longer immune (whatever that means). This should be apparent to anyone let alone a professional epidemiological scientist. Yet, I have never seen this issue addressed anywhere. Astounding!!

      Then, related to the above, Head Rats may be abandoning the sinking vaccine ship.

      PM Trudeau of Woe Canada recently said: “vaccinations on their own are not enough to keep us safe.” Wow. The Public Health Experts in my jurisdiction did not get the message and are still on “Vaccines Solve All” in their Dog and Pony show today. Lapdog press in attendance.

      Then there is Boorish Johnson stating he wants home treatments to be available for Covid in the Fall!

      In any case, one giant scientific clusterjab.

  16. The Rev Kev

    ‘‘Economic collapse amid escalating conflict’: is Myanmar becoming a failed state?”

    ‘Let’s all pray that Myanmar is not like Syria in that the U.S. is not funding and arming competing warlords’

    It may be more direct than that. Some idiot wrote an article at Asia Times called ‘The case for a US missile strike on Myanmar’ which invokes the good old the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P). Maybe that is why the Myanmar Junta imported $15M worth of Russian radar equipment back in February-

    https://asiatimes.com/2021/04/the-case-for-a-us-missile-strike-on-myanmar/

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      Na ga happen, people.

      There is simply no strategic US interest involved here, even looking through the Argus eyes of the Bolton / Nuland interventionists of the world:

      1. Syria falls in the backyard of the 51st State, so the Empire was ‘required’ to be involved there. Plus, to the West Wing crew, all ‘Arab Springs’ had to be nurtured (well, except Egypt, cuz 51st State).

      2. For Libya, don’t forget it was the Europeans who got overinvolved first (cuz shiploads of Africans, umm I mean refugees). Obama/Hillary fecklessly signed off cuz, umm, Arab Spring (supra) plus giant PMC Harvard brain multilateral 11 dimensional chess with the EU (we back you in Libya, you back us in Ukraine, tra la la). Plus Langley claiming it was childs play to pull strings on the tribal factions once Qaddafi was dead (the Euros went home the moment migrants stopped flooding over). Oops.

      So Myanmar today:

      Fine, the Imperial war machine never saw a drone tasking it wouldn’t happily take on, but there’s just no ‘burning platform’ today to get Biden’s West Wing retreads to sign off on another Land War in Asia.

      ‘Keep China out?’ Are you kidding? We won’t even shove them off a few reefs near the Philippines, or lift a finger over HK. Our old clients in Taiwan and Korea are nibbling their nails wondering if Uncle Sam will be there or they should cut their own deals.

      There’s no shocked ‘America Under Attack’ post 9-11 hysteria today.

      Nor is there a heady spirit of Color Coded Spring Revolutions in the air to drive first naive and ultimately sinister policy responses.

      Not even a Golden Triangle drug threat; there’s plenty of heroin and meth in the world.

      Finally, there is no US surrogate already meddling in MM and trying to lure Uncle Sam in to do their heavy lifting (Saudis in Yemen, 51st state). All their neighbors are staying the hell out, except China and Thailand, which are pro junta. India has zero appetite.

      Japan is the most influential foreign power there today, but their ‘soft power’ is based solely on the stream of money and contracts their multilaterals pump in. The moment they are forced to suspend , that leverage vanishes (and eager Chinese step in).

      … So while I’ve been outside the Beltway for 25 years, in my view the Empire got 99 problems but Myanmar ain’t one. Those poor dear people are on their own.

  17. Alfred

    From the Who’s in charge here! department: Daily Mail

    “Buckingham Palace is a ‘lot calmer’ without Meghan Markle and Prince Harry ‘kicking off’ over why they couldn’t just ‘do what they wanted,’ source claims. ‘One of the main issues with Harry and Meghan when they were part of the working family was their inability to understand how things worked,’ a source claimed.”
    Filling the void:

    Sophie Wessex, who has been hailed as the royal family’s ‘secret weapon’ at a time of turmoil, will be stepping up to help. …
    Amanda Pullinger, CEO of 100 Women in Finance, insisted Sophie ‘really is down to earth’. She said: ‘She actually presents herself as an ordinary person and I think that is increasingly what the royal family needs to do.
    ‘It’s interesting—she’s not nicey nicey. Of course she’s polite, but she’ll tell you what she thinks. If she disagrees she’ll say, and she’s done it to me a number of times. ‘

    Prince Harry noted that his brother William and father Charles are “still trapped into all that.”
    The Palace staff give me the chills.

    1. Yves Smith

      I don’t have the foggiest idea what you are talking about. Members of the Royal family get an allowance because they are expected to show up at all sort of events, smile and act like they really want to be there. The Queen gets to be more sparing, but the other senior Royals and members in the line of succession are expected to go to Bumfuck England and do things like cut ribbons at hospital about 100 days a year.

      Lady Di absolutely loved that sort of thing. She even famously would often drop unexpectedly into hospitals to see patients because she basked in the pleasure ordinary people got from having an Important Person take interest in them.

      Megham is a selfish creature who hates regular folk and mistakenly though she’d get more time on private jets if she married Harry. She didn’t get that despite all the drafty castles, the Royals don’t live like billionaires.

      1. Alfred

        I don’t have the foggiest idea what you are talking about either. Di was traumatized by that whole environment also. And the Palace staff “sources” still give me the chills.

        1. Fireship

          “Traumatized”

          Give me a break. Children in South Sudan are traumatized. Lady Diana married into the royal family.

          1. Alfred

            And she divorced out of it. Wanting a life is not anything to criticize, relative though the “suffering” may be. If you have to leave to get it, that says something to me.

        2. Yves Smith

          Lady Di was bulimic BEFORE she married Charles.

          She loved her official duties, which is the topic here.

          She did not like that she was in what amounted to a sham marriage, that Charles loved and kept up an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles, whom he didn’t initially take as a wife, I assume because she married Andrew Parker Bowles in 1973 and for whatever reason, Camilla was not on his radar then. He didn’t marry Lady Di until 1981.

          Infidelity, particularly when the press is all over it, isn’t conducive to a happy household.

          1. Alfred

            I recall some amusing stories about Di from Freddie Mercury about how he and Elton John or other friends used to sneak her out nights to go to gay clubs because she was going nuts from the constant pressure of being picked at all the time to do things “properly.” She was a good person, of course she loved helping others, but that’s not the whole story. Perhaps if the atmosphere had been healthier, she would have left her bulimia behind.

          2. Alfred

            There was one other time when I was attending music school at university in the U.S. and I had a conversation with a bagpiper who was giving classes there. He told me he used to be one of the Queen’s head pipers, and periodically they would have to stand for inspection. They would spend hours making sure everything was perfect, then the Queen would walk down the line and flick an imaginary piece of lint off one of their uniforms, and they would all get punished. I did not want to believe at the time she could be so petty (this was about 40 years ago) but he was sincere, he could not take it anymore. Maybe the monarchy is just not suitable for creative people.

      2. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you and well said, Yves.

        The working royals, ie the ones tasked with such duties and paid from the civil list, do 2 or 3 engagements, usually in the same area, daily. For example, in 1982, Diana opened a small shopping mall, now largely empty, and visited Stoke Mandeville hospital in my home town.

        Some non working royals are paid by the royal household. They tend to be older cousins or the daughters of Andrew, now married to working husbands.

        There are over sixty royals, most unknown to or unrecognised by the public. Most have day jobs. One is an architect, his son an army officer turned management consultant, his daughter in law a doctor at UCL hospital and his late elder brother was a diplomat. Their cousin by marriage is an academic at Cambridge. Another cousin is a lawyer in California, admitted to the bar there. The architect is an amateur historian and down to earth. It’s a pity that he stays out of the limelight.

        I don’t understand how some people want to make a cause of Meghan Markle. Like Markle, they should familiarise themselves with primogeniture and how easily refutable her verifiable claims were.

        #ADOS have seen through Markle and are equally dismissive.

    1. diptherio

      Your portmanteau is a little cringe, as the first bit comes from a slur for an ethnic group. Might I suggest griftocurrencies instead?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yup, its amazing how so many supposedly worldly people can’t get their heads around the notion that for advanced economies, capital availability is not a limiting factor.

      If the Chinese are investing in infrastructure in Australian in projects that other investors won’t touch, it either means they are fools; that they have more money than sense; they are trying to hide hot cash; or they have an ulterior geopolitical motive.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Production of Sputnik V in S. Korea to kick off in May”

    This is interesting this. So first they will manufacture 150 million doses of Sputnik V and that will be followed by another 500 million doses of Sputnik V. That is 650 million doses of Sputnik V in total but South Korea only has a population of about 52 million. That must mean that they aim to be a manufacturing and distribution hub for this vaccine in Asia so I wonder who they will be exporting these vaccines to. I guess that the State Department was not able to lean on them to give up this deal but for sure a lot of countries may end up owing South Korea big time before this pandemic is over. Japan may be a country that might want these vaccines, especially with the Tokyo Olympics coming up in only 91 days, and the South Koreans would like Japan owing them something.

    1. Acacia

      Yeah, they are smart to get onto this. Thus far, Japan has been seemingly in denial w.r.t. the epidemic and sort of whistling past the graveyard, so we’ll see if they get their act together.

      I liked how Suga’s silly attempt to get a dinner with Biden was rebuffed by the White House, giving him only twenty minutes with the big guy and a hamburger on his plate. What a maroon.

      1. hunkerdown

        They’re also trying to skip to the state of having not had to have had an Olympics without being in the state of not having an Olympics.

    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      Just a quick population count with no knowledge of existing vaccine deals:

      Vietnam +96m
      Laos is near 70m
      Myanmar is 54m, and they probably aren’t going to be too into dealing with storage problems.
      Cambodia is 16m

      With South Korea and a gesture to North Korea, those two dose vaccines can go quickly.

        1. Yves Smith

          US reporting has gone out of its way to trash the Chinese vaccine, which actually preforms well. As as an inactivated virus, it’s got a lot less potential for weird outcomes than the novel tech vaccines.

          Sinovac is 50% effective per a recent Bloomberg story v. even mild cases, which is a more stringent standard than for Pfizer/Moderna.

          Russell: The Sinovac study was to look at how the vaccine works against the entire range of clinical symptoms, from mild infections to severe ones, including death. The efficacy data of about 50% is for very mild disease, requiring no treatment. For infections requiring some medical intervention, it’s about 84% and for moderate-to-severe Covid cases, it’s 100%.

          https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-04-13/are-china-s-covid-shots-less-effective-experts-size-up-sinovac

    3. RMO

      The article states that the production will be entirely for export. I wish we could get some of it here in Canada and speed up vaccination but that’s never going to happen.

      I finally got a vaccination appointment myself – going in about a half hour. Pfizer in all likelihood. Wish me luck if you like.

  19. semiconscious

    re: Scientist Linked to Great Barrington Declaration Embroiled In World Health Organization Conflict Of Interest Byline Times. Including WHO advisor Professor John Conly, who believes that the risk of acne must be weighed carefully against the risk of Covid when deciding whether to recommend N95 masks for HCWs. Of course.

    which, via association, completely discredits the great barrington declaration?…

    because, as we all know by now, lockdowns work?:

    This will be my first and possibly last tweet (thread) as I am mostly here to learn. It is prompted by a recent study questioning lockdown efficacy that is getting a lot of attention. It appears people believe it to be the first of its kind, but I have been collecting similar studies since March 2020. Below are 30 published papers finding that lockdowns had little or no efficacy (despite unconscionable harms) along with a key quote or two from each:

    https://twitter.com/the_brumby/status/1349478824606502912

    1. Basil Pesto

      Alas, I hardly have the skillset let alone the time to debunk all of these studies, but it’s curious that all of these papers ignore the strict lockdowns in Australia (or any Asian countries), which I in fact lived through, and which absolutely, unambiguously did work, as they were the primary public health measure used to combat the pandemic which threatened to spiral out of control during the second wave in Victoria last year. There is no other viable explanation for the blissful relative normalcy we’re enjoying right now. None. Jurisdictions, including Victoria again in February, have also implemented strict ‘snap’ lockdowns of less than a week since then to curtail transmission when there were signs of the virus re-emerging in the community. These have all been successful.

      Externalities are an issue when it comes to such policies, but can be mitigated as well by government policy. These authors – again, curiously – choose to ignore the externalities of the virus spreading out of control.

      Our economy – a preoccupation of many of the cited study authors – is recovering at an unexpectedly fast pace. Shopping centres are full of customers who shop in full confidence, without masks, of not getting the illness.

      Who am I going to believe? Some wanker on a pre-print, or my own lying eyes?

    2. Foy

      Well all I can say in relation to lockdowns is I’m very happy I’m living in Melbourne Australia. We went thru a tough lockdown last year due to lax controls at quarantine, the rest of the country some sporadic lockdowns, but it is paying dividends now compared to the rest of the world. Zero cases (other than in quarantine) for a long while now. Everyone living pretty much normally, other if travelling interstate be prepared to bug out back home quickly. We have the Anzac day footy match between Collingwood and Essendon at the MCG on Sunday and they are allowing up to 85,000 people in to the match. All local sport is back. Don’t even have to wear masks in public other than on things like trains etc.

      There are still issues around occasional sudden closures of mass events eg festivals, due to outbreaks from quarantine that I think the govt could financially insure/backstop to help suppliers involved in those events from suffering significant losses on food etc, and encourage people to continue to run them.

      And our hospitals, ICU units and healthcare workers aren’t suffering under the pressure and bearing the brunt like many other places.

      Not sure how many other places are achieving this on an ongoing basis. But looking around the world think I know where I’d prefer to be at this point in time.

      1. Foy

        Looks like I jinxed things with my previous comment. This morning a Victorian man contracted COVID in a Perth quarantine facility for overseas returnees before travelling to Melbourne this week. His Perth quarantine room was adjacent to a room occupied by a COVID positive person. This has happened a couple times now with the new variants where people have caught covid late in their stay in quarantine with supposedly no contact between rooms but being transmitted they believe via hallways when doors opened.

        Luckily on his arrival in Melbourne he was deemed a close contact of a positive case and travelled directly home and been isolating since. He has three household contacts. The question now is tracing all the people on his flight.

        Will be a good test of our systems once again. The public is familiar with the process now. Only this is where I’m not a big fan of the big crowds at the footy mentioned in my previous post, don’t mind the crowds if seated and spaced and outdoors, just wouldn’t be packing them in.

        https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/victorian-man-catches-covid-19-in-perth-quarantine-hotel-20210423-p57lrw.html

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > as we all know by now, lockdowns work?

      Responding to the heavy irony–

      Especially in China. Oh, wait. Yes, I would say WHO getting into bed with the Great Barrington loons discredits both. Like Basil Pesto, I don’t have time for a Gish Gallop. So sorry.

      Adding, I’m perfectly willing to admit that half-assed lockdowns don’t work. Look at the United States.

  20. Wukchumni

    Got my second Pfizer shot yesterday and no ill effects aside from occasional flashes of vaccine envy-those lucky Moderna bastards I thought silently, working my way through the fear of missing out.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      Lucky Moderna bastard here working through a major arthritis flare up, chills and a general feeling of being out of it. Work has been umm…interesting today.

      1. tegnost

        I got my first moderna today with no side effects 5 hrs later, I’ve been told I might feel drained later…

    2. fumo

      I had no symptoms from my first Moderna shot except a bit of injection site soreness. Get the second May 6th, not expecting much, if any, worse then.

    3. Glen

      I had my first Moderna shot two Fridays ago and did not feel very good for about a week. Despite that I am looking forward to the second shot.

      My wife had her first shot three days after me and is doing much better.

  21. a different chris

    >Most Americans say they should be vaccinated before the U.S. donates Covid-19 shots elsewhere

    I also feel basically this way but for apparently all the wrong reasons: If you have a limit on vaccinations then you want to use said vaccine to drive infection levels to near zero at chosen hotspots. If you don’t, if you distribute thinly then the virus is not confronted by a solid wall of resistance. It can find its way across the unvaccinated and worse, use this mix of targets to mutate and then suddenly everybody is in trouble again.

    Actually what I really think is that you make a population density map and start from there… nationalities and their borders be damned.

    But saying “Ok first lets get America cleared up” is a defensible stance. This is how you fight a war. It isn’t pretty.

    1. kareninca

      I don’t understand how universal vaccination is supposed to confront the virus with a solid wall of resistance. I thought that people who were vaccinated could still catch and transmit the virus; they just ended up not having so nasty an experience. In which case, it could still bounce around a fully vaccinated population, mutating all the way. Am I no longer up to date in my understanding of this?

      note: I do think that being vaccinated may mean that you shed less virus, when you catch covid. But not that you shed none. I’d be happy to be corrected by a study link.

        1. kareninca

          Okay, I guess you could still have some transmission, but the RO under 1. I guess I assume that the virus will mutate to be more transmissible, but maybe that is too pessimistic.

  22. Millwright

    “Dirty Dollars”
    Remember, these are the kind of oligarchical parasites that Putin helped to destroy, weaken and imprison in Russia. That’s the basis of his power.

    When will the Sacklers face the federal death penalty?
    Until then, there is no justice in the United States and the powers that be have no right to condemn any other country and its leadership.

    Can’t have people like that paying for their crimes by doing time now can we?
    The neoliberals chant; “Putin is bad”, “Putin is bad!”

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Note the timeline.

      Most of this filth and abject abandonment occurred during the obama / BIDEN administration, and did not unravel until the third term of that administration failed to materialize.

      That would be the same biden who sells his hardscrabble scranton steelworker persona ad nauseam.

      And presto! biden is back and so is Ukraine.

      1. chuck roast

        It seems as though E. European oligarchs are at a distinct disadvantage. Here in the US the oliy’s can shower a whole range of pols, with cash and when the dust settles it’s business as usual. No blood, no foul. Over there in the east the oliy’s have to be a bit more judicious and circumspect. If they back the wrong horse or get a little uppity they may have to decamp for the London manse post haste. Worse yet, the lawsuits have a way of raining down in London-town. Man, life can be a bitch!

  23. Felix_47

    Re: Colleges vs. Community Colleges. This is a monstrous problem. When I went to college tuition was something you could largely earn with work in the summer. Working as a waiter or some other job provided enough to live on as a student in an Ivy. Years later my kids went to college and did community college first which really worked out well and then four year schools. Tuition costs have become so high that we need loans or Pell Grants to finance them. I wish the government would stop and reconsider just what we are getting for all this. Would it not make more sense to finance a jobs program. The government could do a buyout program for private colleges and nationalize the system. I don’t really see much that my kids or I learned in college that was necessary for many careers. It seems the problem is there are no jobs other than police, fire, government, prison guard or law or nursing school or the military (one of mine is in the military because it is a job with benefits). The college problem is really a well paying job problem not an educational problem. A national jobs guarantee with health and retirement benefits might really work.

    1. Acacia

      Oh but what would all the poor banks do if they couldn’t buy up those student loans, slice ‘n dice them, and use those nice shiny tranches of impossible to discharge debt to clean up and then sell all their toxic auto and home loans? /s

    2. coboarts

      I agree with your assessment and recommendation in the last two sentences. I am no longer working for the private, nonprofit university where I worked the last seven years. In my role there I had the opportunity to interact with all the community colleges within my territory. The community colleges are doing a great job working with large local employers and getting more and more of their students into paying apprenticeships. California’s community colleges are very engaged in workforce development and developing programs that can help the state rebuild its industrial base.

      I fully support public education, TK (Transitional Kindergarten) – 14. That would include two years of community college following high school, allowing young adults to take vocational related programs with employment pathways, which the CCs are expanding, or they can prepare for four year degrees by completing the lower-division general ed requirements without incurring any debt.

      I won’t go on to share my opinion of private colleges, including nonprofits. Since virtually all of our colleges and universities have now developed the capacity to run many or much of their programs online, I don’t believe there is much need for the vast number of private colleges that exist. BTW, go Aztecs!

  24. The Rev Kev

    “Putin warns West of ‘red line’ as thousands protest to back Navalny”

    They keep on making a big thing about Navalny but if you only get 6,000 protestors out of a city of 11,920,000 people, that is not a sign of local popularity or dedication that. It was funny listening to the TV news talk about Putin announcing his red lines. The tone was kinda ‘Is he allowed to do that? That’s our thing!’ Later they announced a doco about Russia called ‘Russia: 1000 years of history’ while calling it a shape-shifting blob and showing Putin shooting a pistol with scary music.

    Personally I like my propaganda subtle rather than gross and insulting. If anybody wants to actually read Putin’s Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly, you can find it below but grab a cup of coffee first. I like the way that he thanks everybody involved in fighting the pandemic and this part goes over several paragraphs. Most politicians I have heard only give a soundbite thanks-

    http://en.kremlin.ru/events/president/news/65418

    1. zagonostra

      From the link you provided, it seems that, like China, there are initiatives that aim at ameliorating the condition of those who live in what I’ve seen described here, at NC, as “precarity.”

      I haven’t head much on lowering the Medicare age to 55 or 60 or much else out of the Biden administration that will fundamentally improve those who here in the U.S. are also living a precarious lives.

      Whether China and Russia succeed in meeting those initiatives probably will be, to a large extent, a function of how much trouble the U.S. creates for them…

      Of course, we must also help women who are expecting a baby and who have financial problems. It is extremely important for a mother-to-be to get support from the state and society, so that they can keep their pregnancy and know that they will receive help in raising and bringing up their child.

      I propose approving a monthly subsidy for women who register at a maternity centre during early pregnancy and who have financial problems. The average subsidy for them will be 6,350 rubles a month.

      Next, the sick pay for taking care of a child who falls ill depends on the employment record, which is correct, on the whole, and fair. However, young women receive much smaller sick leave payments. We have discussed this issue at the State Council, and it has been raised by the United Russia. We need to adopt legal decisions on this matter without delay, so that payments for taking care of a sick child aged up to 7 years inclusively are approved at 100 percent of the parent’s salary as soon as this year.

      1. km

        See, communism, I tells ya!

        Either that or it’s fascism, or at any rate it must be something Very Very Bad.

        1. newcatty

          Or, shush…It’s socialism. Both parties did a coordinated hit job on any proposal or policy that was Good for the American public. The obvious example…smearing Sanders as a Socialist. The media chorus did their job of propaganda and smoke and mirrors of the parties’ elite control of all narratives. The general population may actually want Good things like M4A, living wages and/ or safety nets for those who truly need them, affordable housing , compassionate care for the elderly and disabled, clean air and waters, excellent educational institutions pre-cooked school- community colleges , universities that are actually institutions of true higher learning. Fear is the operative method that keeps many people “in chains” whether literally or, most ubiquitous, mentally.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Just think by 2015, Chinese parents will be chastising kids to eat their meals in honor of the poor American children who have school lunches thrown away and then are publicly humiliated because their guardians can’t afford the bill.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        > I haven’t head much on lowering the Medicare age to 55 or 60

        1400/2000 = 70%, so figure on (65 – 60) * 70% = 3.5 years, and 65 – 3.5 = 61.5, so let’s assume President Seventy Percent is generous, and round that down to 61, and not up to 62.

    2. JTMcPhee

      Reading Putin’s address to the Federal Assembly, I got a little teary-eyed myself over what is possible in a “modern” society versus what we mopes suffer here, mostly in surly silence.

      Looks like MMT is well understood and well directed in Russia, as is pro-social government action. Health care, support for families, a real investment notion in “infrastructure” as broadly understood, a continued thrust toward self-reliance/autarky, so much more.

      Pretty amazing stuff, from the man we mopes are manufactured-consent’ed to hate on. One hopes that the Russian system can produce more leaders like him, since he’s not going to be around forever.

      One can see why the Blob/Deep State/oligarchy hates and fears him. If the Russian approach as led by Putin were to expand to more of the planet, their rice bowls would be shattered beyond repair.

      Not of course that Russia is a complete workers’ paradise, there are flies in their ointment and the constant pressures toward the kinds of looting that one sees pretty much everywhere else.

      Nothing of the sort can reasonably be expected from the oligarchy in the Empire, or in most of the rest of the world, as structural inevitabilities created by greedy b@st@rds drive on toward collapse.

      1. weimer

        He spoke with such sense of care and empathy toward the country& people; hard to imagine a US politician communicating like that. Plus, quoting Kipling was fun (prob poking UK a bit in the ribs for sending those war ships to the Black Sea).

      2. Basil Pesto

        I’m a bit bemused by how easily some here are impressed by the Vladster. For instance:

        I propose approving a monthly subsidy for women who register at a maternity centre during early pregnancy and who have financial problems.

        has a whiff of means testing that, were it to come from the mouth of any garden variety Democrat, would raise the hackles of just about anyone here.

        1. Foy

          Hi Basil. Yes, but the paragraph immediately preceding your sentence was:

          “In particular, we must support single-parent families, where a mother or a father is bringing up a child alone, and only one of the parents is registered on the birth certificate – sorry to be speaking of such mundane things, but this is a fact of life – or the parents have divorced and one of them has the right to child-support payments. Therefore, as of July 1 this year, all children in such families aged between 8 and 16, inclusively, will receive a benefit. The national average of such benefit will be 5,650 rubles.”

          I wonder if the ‘whiff’ of a means test simply relates to the definition above saying that all children single parent families (who he implies have financial problems which would affect children as compared to two parent families) would receive a benefit. I wonder if he is talking about single mothers also having financial problems in the same way. His focus is clearly on the children.

          Sorry Basil but I think the Vladster has been the premier statesman of the world in the last 25 years. His speeches beat almost any other statesman’s hands down. If you took his name off the speech and gave it to someone to read (taking out the Russian references) they would rarely guess it was by him and be shocked when they realise it. Of course what he says rarely gets reported in western press, and when it is it is often mistranslated.

          Time and again for the last 10+ years he has not responded to US and western provocations and sanctions, and the world should thank for not responding. We have loons like Abbot wanting to shirtfront him and Clintons and co going ‘Russia Russia Russia’. I’m not sure how he has managed to keep his head when all about him are losing theirs.

          It’s why he is still popular on the home front after all this time.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > .It’s why he is still popular on the home front after all this time.

            I’m not sure I’d say that; I don’t know enough about Russia domestic politics to know, and maybe “popular” isn’t even the right word. (He’s certainly more so than the Romanovs!)

            We necessarily view Russia through foreign eyes. There, it seems obvious that Putin has played a weak hand very well. We, on the other hand, have played a strong hand extraordinarily badly (except for “our” oligarchs, of course, who are doing very well, but the globalists among them really treat the United States as a pied a terre rather than a nation).

            1. Foy

              “I’m not sure I’d say that; I don’t know enough about Russia domestic politics to know, and maybe “popular” isn’t even the right word. (He’s certainly more so than the Romanovs!)”

              True! It is hard to assess, my gut feeling is that he appears more popular than most western politicians with their electorates eg Scotty from Marketing, which is what I meant to imply. I think the Russian public have admiration for him for how he turned Russia around after the depths of Yeltsin years and negative involvement of economists like Larry Summers.

    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I like the way that he thanks everybody involved in fighting the pandemic and this part goes over several paragraphs

      It does. And there’s been nothing like this from our political class at all:

      The people’s solidarity showed in concrete actions, in caring for the loved ones and in willingness to help people in need. Millions became volunteers and engaged in building person-to-person help routes. The nationwide We Are Together campaign brought together people from different walks of life and ages. As always during challenging times, our traditional religions stepped up to provide spiritual support to the society. I see the leaders of our religions here and I would like to bow deeply to you, thank you very much.

      Not even to the churches! All we get is shaming and scolding and unmerited arrogance.

  25. Wukchumni

    As extreme weather increases, climate misinformation adapts AP
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    April fools day is the official end of winter in the Sierra in terms of expectations of accumulation, game over.

    We’re looking to get a foot or more of snow in the higher climes on Sun-Mon and its a nice parting shot to the winter that mostly wasn’t, not quite a May Day celebration, but close enough. We’ll take it.

  26. Wukchumni

    A dozen year old story, but i’d never heard of a ‘death apple’ before…
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    According to historical accounts, when Christopher Columbus’ men visited the Virgin Islands in 1493, one of the novel things they encountered near the beach was a tree that appeared to offer possibilities as a food source. The sweet-smelling fruit, which resembles small apples or crab apples, seemed very appealing, so some of the newbies tried it. They shouldn’t have.

    This is the most poisonous tree found in America and one of the most dangerous in the entire world. Its bark, sap, leaves, and fruit contain a veritable witche’s brew of toxins.

    Though juicy and reportedly quite tasty when ripe, the fruit of this tree is loaded with physostigminet. And believe me, that’s something you do not want to ingest carelessly. Eat just a little bit of the fruit – as many careless tourists have — and the resulting pain and swelling of your mouth and throat will give you a new and vital entry for your “don’t do it again” list. Eat a good bit of it, and you’re going to suffer about the same fate as someone exposed to nerve gas. The oral swelling and excruciating pain, esophageal ulcerations, edema, and cervical lymphadenopathy will make it hard to breathe, almost impossible to swallow, and very difficult to talk.

    This tree can, and has, killed people.

    https://www.nationalparkstraveler.org/2009/04/national-park-mystery-plant-2-there%E2%80%99s-good-reason-they-call-thing-death-apple%E2%80%9D3799

      1. Wukchumni

        Thanks…

        Busy painting fruit trees today, and yeah that sounds funny.

        I use a 50/50 mix of water & white latex paint up as high as 3 feet from the base to keep borers away and not allow the trunk to get sunburnt & stops it from cracking and/or splitting.

        Went to the nursery yesterday and bought a few new cherry trees, one i’ve never heard of, and could find nothing about it online. It’s called a ‘Santolina’. How is that possible in the portal of all knowledge?

  27. Susan the other

    Do brain implants change your identity? New Yorker. Which identity? I enjoyed Gilbert’s description of identity as just reactions to evolving personal pathologies; he says there is no self or mind. That pathologies form a scaffold of your identity, however rational or irrational, but all based on individual experience. So what about brain stimulation and implants? They apparently work really well for some people. Just last nite there was a doc on PBS, Independent Lens I think, about the tragic state of American mental health. That we haven’t done anything to advance treatment for 50 years and all the drugs are just Pharma updates to protect patents. I’d think implants would be a welcome change from the self-serving immorality of Pharma. Deep brain stimulation can treat all sorts of things from epilepsy to Tourettes, to depression so you’d think manic episodes might also be treated as well. It’s either that or Larry David’s restaurant.

    1. newcatty

      Interesting premise, but my Spidey sense went off in my brain and it sent a warning, warning that this treatment could well be used for nefarious means. Indeed, American mental health is ignored or captured by Big Pharma, often prescribed by “mental health professionals”, ie mostly Psychiatrists. But, something as serious as brain implants and stimulation can only be of benefit if the intent of the practioners are , no holds back, are honorable and compassionate. I liked “Alice’s Restaurant”😌.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I’d think implants would be a welcome change from the self-serving immorality of Pharma.

      I’m sure somebody is trying to figure out how to sell brain implant software as a service even now. “Retain your identity for the low, low price of $39.99 a month!*)

      * Terms and restrictions apply.

  28. Cuibono

    J Burn Murdoch is playing a bit fast with the numbers imo

    Check out Sweden. Very few shots and they have a huge gap of deaths and Cases now.

    I am not saying he is wrong. one hopes that in fact the end result is a s he says. but i think he is cherry picking.

    No mention of the Seychelles?

  29. Glen

    Hard drives and computer parts –

    I have yet to see a shortage of hard drives since these are considered “old technology”, but the shortages of high end video cards continues unabated, and high end CPUs are also in short supply. Between a surge in the demand for these items due to “work from home” and cryptocurrency mining, there does not seem to be an end to this shortage, and we seem to be settling into “the new norm”.

    As stated in the article, if Chia (a new cryptocurrency) is going to also raise hard drive and storage prices, then when can we act to stop the madness? Cryptocurrencies are consuming the energy equivalent of Argentina.

  30. .human

    I’ve had windoze updates bork computers going back to late ’90s. Never acknowledged by m$

    Switched to Linux for my personal machines when it _was_ difficult to install (did some official beta testing) and haven’t looked back.

  31. noonespecial

    Re AP link “In Romania”…

    From the piece: They’re made up of makeshift homes, where unofficially rigged electricity cables hug the ground…“Everywhere in the world, the poorest are exploiting the marginal resources in order to survive. We have a chain of causes: low education, low infrastructure, low development … a lot of things are low,” Duminica said.

    The phrase in bold rings true for some of Colombia’s poorest in Bogota who are informal recyclers of any item that may generate an income. In a neighborhood officially classed as “level 6” (economically speaking zones with the highest average income grade possible), city officials located two “living quarters” built out beneath a bridge in one of the city’s costliest ‘hoods. As in the example from Romania, these persons also counted with illegal electrical hook-ups plus a range of appliances, which the officials suspect are appliances homeowners discard improperly. Having seen recyclers with their carts roaming, looking and collecting, one can only wonder about the potential hazardous materials/substances that these folks encounter.

    Lambert’s phrase ‘it’s all going according to plan’ seems apropos.

    https://www.eltiempo.com/unidad-investigativa/las-viviendas-subterraneas-de-recicladores-de-bogota-en-barrio-estrato-6-582996

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it’s all going according to plan’

      “Everything[‘s|is] going according to plan.”

      I picked the phrase out of the zeitgeist somewhere, and then Mark Ames directed me to this video; the song originated with a Russian punk band, Grazhdanskaya Oborona (lots of Cyrillic in the comments to the Massive Attack video, approving ones as I understand it).

      I wish I hadn’t gotten off the popular music track before Massive Attack; one would think I would have connected to them from (reggae) sound system, but alas no.

  32. pasha

    a friend of mine prowls the richer suburbs on trash day, recovering appliances and furniture. he restores and repairs and sells them in his second-hand shop (that used to be his radical bookstore back in the eighties). he has made a comfortable living doing so for at least the three decades i have known him

Comments are closed.