Links 4/23/2021

How humble Quaker origins inspire James Turrell’s otherworldly light art Aeon and An Exclusive Look at James Turrell’s Roden Crater Smithsonian Magazine (Chuck L)


Watch the Navy’s new drone fly using just sunlight and hydrogen Popular Science (resilc)

Algorithm Detects Deepfakes by Analyzing Reflections in Eyes Futurism (David L)

The future looks bright for infinitely recyclable plastic PhysOrg

Solving the Climate Crisis Hinges on US-China Cooperation Gizmodo (resilc). Telling that this has to be said….

101 Nobel laureates call for global fossil fuel non-proliferation treaty Guardian (furzy)

American Honey Still Contains Nuclear Fallout From the 1950s Popular Mechanics (resilc)

The Weak Case for Grit Nautilus. Yours truly is tenacious. It is why despite being a phys ed failure as a kid I now have a very strong upper body and wrecked lower body joints (please don’t try giving helpful advice, I have seen just about every type of practitioner and trainer that exists). I don’t give up when I should. Similar results in other areas of my life, where getting what I thought I wanted despite difficulties proved not to be such a hot idea.

The Most Polluted Cities In America [Infographic] Forbes


Nina Burleigh, The Pandemic Memory Hole TomDispatch


Patients With Long Covid Face Lingering Worrisome Health Risks, Study Finds New York Times (Robert M)

Pregnant women with COVID-19 20 times more likely to die, UW study finds Seattle Times (furzy). Study: Maternal and Neonatal Morbidity and Mortality Among Pregnant Women With and Without COVID-19 Infection JAMA

Scientists launch study to find out if COVID-19 vaccines are causing period changes after hundreds of women notice irregularities Daily Mail. Personally does not strike me as a big deal (I thought regularity is overrated but women who get periods like clockwork likely feel otherwise). But what I don’t like is “heavy and early”. Stress and flus would if anything normally produce delays. Note even though Daily Mail is the source, their science reporting is good and a small study really is contemplated. From IM Doc:

I am repeatedly being told by the media that the vaccine hesitancy group is mainly Republican Caucasians. That is true to some degree….

What is being completely missed by the media – and what is the largest and most skeptical/hesitant group in my life – are the under 50 women – and especially child-bearing-age and younger women.

Stories like this are all over the place – and young women – as in NH workers – and nurses – as one group for example – are just not going to be taking the vaccine.

These stories like this are everywhere online – I really do not know if they have any validity – but at this point – because of the things I have repeatedly pointed out – no one believes the authorities anyway.

Australia set to host clinical trial of genetically modified Covid nasal spray vaccine Guardian


Even Record Death Toll May Hide Extent of India’s Covid Crisis Bloomberg


Contractor that ruined 15M doses of J&J vaccine hiked price of another by 800% ars technica (resilc)

White House writes off Johnson & Johnson vaccine after string of production failures Politico

Covid-19 Rates in Los Angeles Have Gone From Worst to Among the Best Wall Street Journal

Going to Burning Man this year? You may need proof of a COVID-19 vaccination MarketWatch


China’s central bank fights Jack Ma’s Ant Group over control of data Financial Times. Fun!

Say hello to the new multilateral boss Saker (Kevin W). Note we featured some other takes on this speech.

Ally with Vietnam Noahopinion (resilc)

Federal government tears up four Victorian government deals with foreign nations leading to rebuke from Chinese embassy (Kevin W). From a couple of days ago but big consternation.

New Cold War

Russia orders troops to withdraw from Ukraine border after buildup that alarmed West NBC (furzy)


Afghanistan — the long defeat The Spectator (resilc)

Afghanistan’s Green Future? Foreign Policy in Focus

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The Postal Service is running a running a ‘covert operations program’ that monitors Americans’ social media posts Yahoo (Chuck L)

How a Chinese Surveillance Broker Became Oracle’s “Partner of the Year” Intercept (resilc)

In epic hack, Signal developer turns the tables on forensics firm Cellebrite ars technica. Bill B clears his throat:

The difference is that Cellebrite isn’t painting themselves as the ironclad defender of personal privacy.

With very few exceptions software is buggy, hence hackable.

Signal marketing promises “secure messaging.” It’s a promise they simply cannot keep. It doesn’t matter how many personal endorsements they get.

EU outlines ambitious AI regulations focused on risky uses Associated Press (Kevin W)

CISA gives federal agencies until Friday to patch Exchange servers Bleeping Computer (dk)

Trump Transition

A Section of Border Wall in Texas Cost $27 Million a Mile. It’s Being Foiled by $5 Ladders. Texas Monthly

Sonia Sotomayor rips Brett Kavanaugh with a warning Alternet (furzy)


Biden climate summit offers empty spectacle WSWS

Biden nominated three people to fix USPS. Here’s how the Postal Service’s leadership works. Washington Post (Kevin W)

Biden’s school plan doubles down on same old failure The Hill

Biden Aims at Top 0.3% With Bid to Tax Capital Gains Like Wages Bloomberg. This is the fastest and easiest way to start going after wealth. A transactions tax would be nice too, not for fundraising mainly but to discourage speculative trading and cut into middleman incomes.

Big Tech $100 Billion Foreign-Profit Hoard Targeted by Tax Plan Bloomberg. Finally, a headline that gets the issue more or less right. I am so sick of the FT saying “cash piles”. The profits are offshore for tax purposes. The actual cash can be anywhere, and is usually in US banks. Apple’s is managed out of what amounts to an internal hedge fund in Nevada.

White House dances around a big contributor to climate change: agriculture Politico (Kevin W)

Joe Biden’s broadband infrastructure plan is a lot tougher to do than it looks. Slate

George Floyd

Chauvin trial was life-changing experience, says alternate juror Star/Tribune (Chuck L)


Why the body count hasn’t slowed down America’s gun industry Popular Information (resilc)

It’s never been this expensive to finance a new coal power plant Quartz (resilc)

Boeing still working on fix for 106 grounded 737 MAX planes -U.S. FAA Reuters

The Crisis in Home Care New Republic. As yours truly has been saying…..

Companies can’t stop talking about higher costs Yahoo. From earlier in the week. Not sympathetic. Corporate profit share of GDP has been at record highs for a few years.

Tesla’s Autopilot ‘tricked’ to operate without driver BBC (David L)

Used car prices explode in US inflation alert Asia Times (Kevin W). Funny, I mentioned yesterday 2 of our 4 aides were buying/had just bought used cars, one with an unemployment check (big one very delayed), the other had been saving for a while. Both still report generally tight finances, so at least in their cases, the car purchases are spending one-offs.

A global database on central banks’ monetary responses to Covid-19 Bank of International Settlements (Kevin C)

Welcome to the YOLO Economy New York Times (Scott)

American capitalism has passed its peak — and the signs of decline are piling up Richard D. Wolff, Independent Media Institute

The road from Rome Aeon (Micael T)

Class Warfare

Why is AFL-CIO So Worried About Its Vermont Affiliate? CounterPunch (resilc)

NYC Gig Workers Are Organizing Against Rampant E-Bike Theft and Assault Vice. You heard about deliveristas in NYC organizing at NC in 2020.

Antidote du jour (CV):

And a bonus (Chuck L):

More species shows of prowess:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Basil Pesto

    I love Turrell’s work, thanks for the links. I’d love to see the Roden Crater one day. First came across his work in NYC at MoMA PS1 about 12 years ago, last saw it at MONA in Hobart a couple years ago where he has a few permanent installations. There’s one you need to book a bit in advance because it only accommodates a small number of people at a time; hope to see it when I go back there in a couple of months. I always find his work captivating, and absorbing. Good to spend time with, which luckily in many cases you can.

  2. cnchal

    > Tesla’s Autopilot ‘tricked’ to operate without driver BBC (David L)

    Some of the safety requirements for Autopilot mode include: keeping the driver’s hands on the steering wheel, buckling the seatbelt and not opening any doors.

    What? No occupancy sensor for the driver’s seat, something that has been in passenger seats for decades? Oh well that can be defeated with a bag of cement for the big risk takers.

    1. Solar guy

      Consumer reports has a video of them doing exactly this on a closed driving course. Weight on the wheel and seat belt connected. It worked just fine.

      They mention that most of the other semi autonomous driving cars have a camera facing the driver to A prove there is one and B I believe to prove they are awake.

      As usual Tesla cuts corners.

  3. cocomaan

    I know some reproductive-age women who are not taking the vaccine for obvious reasons, including some who are already pregnant. On the other hand, I have heard of pregnant women going ahead and taking the vaccine after being told by their doctors that it’s fine. No great option for women with those numbers on what happens when they’re infected by covid while pregnant.

    In any case, it’s really important that the media NOT just pick one group for public shaming when it comes to vaccines. Confidence in vaccines is not going to work by shaming people. It didn’t work for masks, so it won’t work for vaccines.

    However that is what the media is likely to do anyway. Never let public health get in the way of ad revenue.

    1. t

      So far, in the article and a handful of the tweets, no one says anything about tracking their periods and then observing a change after the vaccine. Between the prevalence of tracking apps and the detailed data-keeping of women trying to get pregnant, I’d expect real data to quickly rise up.

      1. kareninca

        I wonder if you have periods. I’m wondering because the women I know who do are already exceedingly well aware of the pattern of their periods. They already have that pre-vaccine data firmly in mind. Many women in the comment section of the DM article remark on their period patterns and what they were like before the vaccine, for that very reason. It is a simple very piece of info.

        Collecting “real data” doesn’t require an app; that is a common belief now but it is not true; there are all sorts of other ways to keep track of things.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Yes, the reasons for reproductive-age women, particularly those already pregnant are obvious.

      If you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant and want a healthy baby, then it’s very important to avoid drug use during pregnancy. Illegal drugs such as marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamine aren’t the only drugs that are harmful to fetal development; Commonly used over-the-counter medicines, along with substances such as caffeine and alcohol, can have lasting effects on an unborn child.

      But an unapproved, experimental drug with zero long term studies of the effects on a developing fetus is OK because covid?

      As an aspiring grandma, I say let the shamers shame. I got your back on this one for certain.

    3. treesthemselves

      My partner who has never experienced bad periods in her life blacked out at work last month and had debilitating cramps during her first period after the 2nd dose of her vaccine. This month, things are back to normal.

      Knowing the literature declared the vaccine safe, we thought the issue was personal. Cue doctor’s visits, evaluating stress, food, lifestyle, and worry.

      Now, it’s become clear that many of our friends had a similar experience. I see this as part of a history of not prioritizing women’s health. If the CDC had listed period cramps, for example, on the list of common side effects of the vaccine, we would not have been alarmed, just as we were not alarmed by chills and a 101 fever. However not investigating this or publicizing it to women leaves women in the dark wondering if they are “imagining things” or “being crazy”, a common experience for women in the health system.

      I don’t think prioritizing research and documentation of women’s health impacts of the vaccine is a risk to increase anti-vaxxism any more than publicizing fever and chills. It is however proof that women’s health is an after thought.

  4. fresno dan

    Chauvin trial was life-changing experience, says alternate juror Star/Tribune (Chuck L)
    Christensen, who is white, never imagined herself here — thinking more critically about police reform and racial discrimination in the United States. For the first time, she had difficult but revelatory conversations about race with her roommate, a Black man she has known since she was 18.
    I think one of the next big things will be the realization that although racial animus undoubtedly plays a large part of the problem of police abuse, police abuse happens to white people. And I suspect it happens to a quite a few white people, because police abuse happens to quite a few people. There has been a lock step part of the US to make heroes of cops – and a completely unserious ability or desire to evaluate complaints against them.

    1. Carolinian

      Obviously if a job is to tell people what not to do–backed up by state sanction–then it’s going to attract authoritarian personalities or, quite possibly, turn the jobholder into one after awhile. I have no doubt that white people who argue with or become belligerent with cops are also putting themselves in danger.

      But with all the guns floating around the cops are in danger too and this also promotes a “warrior” attitude. All of which is to say that cops have always been bullies and it’s not just about racism.

      1. Return of the Bride of Joe Biden

        I observe homeless white people put themselves in danger with the police regularly.

        Although really, who am I to say they’ve “put themselves.”

    2. Geo

      I grew up in a mostly white community (96% by census records) so being a fruity artist meant I was “different” enough from the tribe to be a target. Was often pulled over for no reason. Was once ticketed for speeding while turning off from a little dirt road. Went to court and had a friend’s father, a physicist who worked for a law firm recreating accident scenes, prove the speed I was accused of going was physically impossible on that little road (it had a steep incline and was very twisty). The judge still “convicted” me by saying I still technically could have been speeding.

      Obviously my experience is nowhere near what we see in the news or what non-white friends of mine over the years have had to deal with. But, it showed me early on in life that our justice system is rigged in favor of authority and not truth, police are *family blog*s, and not being recognized as one of the tribe makes you a target.

      Fortunately due to my epilepsy meds I never did drugs or got drunk (like most my friends did) or with all the stops and searches I’d probably have ended up in juvie or something. I was, for the most part, one of those well behaved “good kids” but I just dressed and look weird by small town America standards – pre-Internet.

      Oh, and in 17+ years living in NYC I only had a gun pulled on me once: by police. Long story but had just moved into a building where every other resident was of Central American origin (most recent immigrants, some illegal). The police looked almost as shocked to see a white guy as I was to see a gun in my face. They did the equal opportunity thing and threw me against the wall with a gun to the back of my head for a while until they ran out of reasons to be harassing everyone. Had me sign a form saying I wouldn’t sue them. I signed it. Figured I didn’t want to give them any reason to hold a grudge. Apparently those random police assaults on the building were common. After that day it never happened again. My neighbors said it was because “Whitey moved in.” :)

      So, yeah, I agree with you. Racial animus is a big part of it but when they don’t have dark people to pick on they just look for any other variables that deviate from the norm to single out. If everyone was a blonde Ken Doll they’d find the one with a hair out of place and target him.

      1. fresno dan

        April 23, 2021 at 10:14 am
        Certainly sorry for what happened to you – I think it proves how much the media (social, entertainment, news) presents a veneer of total bull$hit. The TV series is called Law and Order – NOT Law and Justice…

        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘Law and Order – NOT Law and Justice’

          Yeah, sounds about right. Then again I have always hated these sort of programs. Pretty crappy way to start off in life but for Geo it might be a good opportunity to make a film about these early days. Isn’t that how “Happy Days” came to be. But it would have to be filmed as a comedy as nobody would buy that this sort of thing goes on all the time. Personally I found that police incident nothing less than bizarre as well as totally unnecessary.

          1. Geo

            Thanks Dan & Rev. really appreciate the kind words.

            If all goes well, my next film is very much about our unequal justice system, and systemic power dynamics that use force to quell real resistance. We’ve just started pitching it around (the script has been well received so far) but it ain’t a cheap film so will see if we can find anyone willing to finance a film that isn’t friendly toward the rich and powerful. Hopefully we can find a few well-to-do investors who are cool with trashing the super-rich. :)

        2. John Anthony La Pietra

          Remember the propaganda at the start of every original-series episode for 20 years:

          * Not everything the police investigate is a crime — and not all crimes get investigated.

          * Not everyone who’s prosecuted is an offender — and not all offenders get prosecuted.

          * And the two groups — police and district attorneys — aren’t all that separate . . . and the odds aren’t always so good that either one really represents you.

      2. Mike Mc

        Having long hair as a young man in the 1970s made me a “temporary minority”, i.e. all us young white hippies were irresistible cop magnets when driving alone or out on the street by ourselves.

        Only got maced once – after being arrested and put in a cell – for loudly requesting an attorney. Somebody else sent one to the jail on my behalf. Later learned the deputy who maced me turned out to be a friend of a friend who remembered my noisy ass.

        A few years later, got to view the barrel of an Arizona state trooper’s .357 revolver after failing to notice his lights behind me while riding my motorcycle on the Interstate. Had ‘drag bar’ handlebars and to reduce wind buffeting I would lean far forward on my gas tank, Bonneville Salt Flats style.

        This meant I couldn’t see my mirrors… big mistake. Trooper was relieved 1) I hadn’t stolen the bike; 2) I didn’t have so much as a molecule of any contraband on me; 3) I was instantly compliant as in “sir yes sir” and didn’t so much as blink during our brief interaction. Paying the fine for going 85 in a 55 mph zone stung though.

        Fun to see plain old white folks waking from their slumbers. Hope the trend continues before more police violence makes peaceful change impossible.

      3. Edward

        There was an article published by FAIR back in the 1990’s about the T.V. show COPS. Apparently, the producers of this show were only recording events that cast the police in a good light.

    3. a different chris

      >police abuse happens to white people.

      Bingo! This is a message that everybody needs to hear – abusers abuse. And their level of abuse continually escalates until something is done about it.

      So “Black people today, your kids tomorrow” might wake some of our less-empathetic personalities up. In fact that’s why I believe some of the smarter white conservatives are surprising us on this.

      1. fresno dan

        a different chris
        April 23, 2021 at 10:21 am
        I read some conservative, right wing, what ever you want to call it – especially the comments. And I think Trump first understood the discontent with the Bush family support of immigration – it was there to see if you opened your eyes. But right behind that is the contempt much of the republican base holds the police in – they find them inept, corrupt, dishonest, and cowardly. Republican politicians found out how much the base was opposed to open borders – I think they are going to find out that the republican base is not nearly as supportive of police as Fox commentators think they are. I think I have a much higher opinion of most police than, if not a majority of republicans, a near majority. I just want when you see, like in Colorado, a man shot to death with his hands in the air who committed no crime, that there is some consequence for that. Our political system that kowtows to police unions, when as the comments here as well at many other blogs, and all sorts of videos on Youtube that shows all sorts of reprehensible police behavior – and a uniform media and political blue cone of silence regarding police abuse.

    4. tongorad

      The condition and character of US policing is our militarism and forever wars/relentless wartime footing come home to roost. “Defund the Police,” or even BLM for that matter is not serious if it does not start with a critique of the US military and its deified role in our society.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        When northern urban police departments were invented in the 1870s, 1880s, etc. to crush, destroy and persecute labor organizing, did the US have a large deified military at that time?

        If not, what would explain the police oppressionism of that century and why would “critiquing the US military and its deified role in our society” be anything but a diversion to prevent people from thinking about the real history and purpose of policing?

      1. Geof

        From Racecraft, by Karen and Barbara Fields:

        Racism is not an emotion or state of mind, such as intolerance, bigotry, hatred, or malevolence. If it were that, it would easily be overwhelmed; most people mean well, most of the time, and in any case are usually busy pursuing other purposes. Racism is first and foremost a social practice, which means that it is an action and a rationale for action, or both at once. Racism always takes for granted the objective reality of race, as just defined, so it is important to register their distinctness. The shorthand transforms racism, something an aggressor does, into race, something the target is, in a sleight of hand that is easy to miss.

        what Americans designate by the shorthand “race” does not depend on physical difference, can do without visible markers, and owes nothing at all to nature. As the social alchemy of racecraft transforms racism into race, disguising collective social practice as inborn individual traits, so it entrenches racism in a category to itself, setting it apart from inequality in other guises. Racism and those other forms of inequality are rarely tackled together because they rarely come into view together. Indeed, the most consequential of the illusions racecraft underwrites is concealing the affiliation between racism and inequality in general. Separate though they may appear to be, they work together and share a central nervous system.

        In racial disguise, inequality wears a surface camouflage that makes inequality in its most general form—the form that marks and distorts every aspect of our social and political life—hard to see, harder to discuss, and nearly impossible to tackle.

        By crowding inequality off the public agenda, racecraft has stranded this country again and again over its history. It may do so again, permitting an economic sickness that arose from inequality to be treated homeopathically by further doses of inequality, which may eventually provoke rage that will sweep away respect for democratic politics and for the rule of law.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          And that is exactly the point and purpose of racecraft, including Social Justice Warrior Wokenesscraft and White Privilege Theory and so forth.

          “Racial Justice Warriors” and their Feltrav Symp Wokesters are running-dog lacky-flunky-stooges of the Upper Class. ( Except for the ones who are auditioning to join it or are actually part of it).

  5. Basil Pesto

    This is a great interview with Mark Blyth about the Super League debacle.

    Funny and informative as ever. I think his analysis is sharp. My question, and it’s been a hunch all week, is whether this was the last desperate ploy that marks the beginning of the collapse of the football bubble that’s been steadily and absurdly building for about 20 years now? Or is it one of those bubbles, like Australian real estate, that just never stops inflating. Or maybe ‘bubble’ is the wrong terminology in this case? I don’t quite share his optimism, though, for reasons I touched on in a posted comment a couple of days ago

    Meanwhile, I’ve just started on this, ‘How Europe’s Soccer Super League Fell Apart’, in the New York Times – it seems very well reported. My feeling all week has been of imagining the whole thing playing out like some Iannuccian political farce of miscalculation and ineptitude. I think it’d make for a very funny movie.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that Mark Blyth link, Basil. He’s always worth listening to. In the last paragraph where he talks about how governments are willing to use regulations now whereas years before they would let “the market” do whatever it wanted to do, I wonder if this will be a side effect of the present pandemic. That suddenly governments are remembering the powers to regulate that they have and are now more willing to use them and in fact have been.

    2. a different chris

      >it seems very well reported

      Didn’t and can’t read it, but haven’t we observed on this very blog that if we switched sportswriters and our political “reporter” class for a year things would be very, very different.

      1. Basil Pesto

        ha! that’s probably true actually, with British football writers anyway, don’t know as much about the US but I can imagine sports reporters there being of a certain crusty, old school, working class sort who can see through the bullshit, like David Simon might describe, and who the papers (those that still exist, anyway) haven’t redundified yet because they’re still useful.

  6. zagonostra

    > Nina Burleigh, The Pandemic Memory Hole – TomDispatch

    Medical anthropologist Martha Louise Lincoln believes the tendency to look forward — and away from disaster — is also an American trait…Given the absence of dead heroes and a certain all-American resistance to pointless tragedy, there are other reasons we, as Americans, might not look back to 2020 and this year as well.

    The history of twentieth-century vaccine developments has long seesawed between remarkable advances in medical science and conspiracy theories and distrust engendered by its accidents or failures. Almost every new vaccine has been accompanied by reports of risks, side effects, and sometimes terrible accidents, at least one involving tens of thousands of sickened people.

    I certainly agree that there is a “Pandemic Memory Hole.” There is a alternative world of the history of vaccines and how medicine and the healthcare system has developed in the U.S. since WWI that I have been exposed to and am learning about. Much of that startling history is studiously avoided in this article. It would be classified as “conspiracy theories.” This week, in my own stumbling way, I discovered my new favorite CT author, his name is toxic and will get you in trouble, Eustace Mullins. Wiki describes him as:

    Eustace Clarence Mullins Jr. (March 9, 1923 – February 2, 2010)[1] was an American white supremacist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, propagandist,[2] Holocaust denier, and writer. A disciple of the poet Ezra Pound,[3] his best-known work is The Secrets of The Federal Reserve, in which he alleged that several high-profile bankers had conspired to write the Federal Reserve Act for their own nefarious purposes

    I listened to a podcast of an interview he made on Ytube talking about his book, “Murder by Injection: The Story of the Medical Conspiracy” written in 1988. Very interesting and like any CT has to be approached with caution and skepticism. Nevertheless, there were some nuggets of historical facts that I would never have found anywhere else.

    Is knowing this author and his works and letting people know it exists subversive? Are you abetting people who peddle CT? No, I don’t think so. I take a human being’s “free will” and right to exercise one’s own reason and intellect seriously. Pope John Paul’s encyclical opens with “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth…”

    Pontius Pilate asks Jesus “what is truth” and then walks away. It seem to me that this article talks about a “memory hole” when it comes to pandemics and then walks away from delving into, and debunking, theories that abound in the alt-media landscape of the right.

  7. WhoaMolly

    Re: The Weak Case for Grit Nautilus. Yours truly is tenacious…

    I’m teaching my 10 year old grandson to exercise upper body. Simple wall-push ups to start. Then a 30 minute walk in a local nature preserve.

    “lower body wrecked”… Yeah. Been there. It sucks. Wife had wrecked knees, and I had wrecked back. Wife’s knee solved by replacement–which amazes me to this day. Replacement knees really work. Apparently they work better when the recipient exercises regularly before and after. Replacement knees apparently like to be in a strong set of legs. My wrecked back solved by spinal surgery, followed by years of pain which was successfully relieved by daily yoga and occasional chiropractic adjustments.

    1. WhoaMolly

      Philip Maffetone PhD has developed ‘low grit’ exercise methods for both strength and cardio training that appear to work.

      His methods protect from injury and improve performance. He also trains world-class athletes.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Body weight exercises are great for young people.

      However, DO NOT let him use weights beyond very light ones to learn good form. Kids tend to be competitive and want to lift like bigger kids and men when they can’t handle it. They learn bad form and can hurt themselves.

      Another great thing for kids is neurologically taxing exercises, like the footwork drills boxers do (three long parallel lines on the ground, with lines at 90 degrees to make two rows of square boxes. All sorts of complicated movement patterns, starting just with high-ish step walks and runs with each foot landing properly in the box). They are great for coordination and get your heart rate up out of proportion to the actual level of exertion/joint stress.

      Jumping rope is good too as long as you train your grandson to run a little forward and back, jumping exactly in place sends all the shock of jumping back into the joints.

      If he has the patience, a little ballet (just one year or two) will do wonders for his coordination (a lot of football players do it as adults for that reason) and will help him greatly with social dancing like jazz or hip hop.

      1. a different chris

        Good stuff. My very roughly analogous experience:

        I, built like a middle linebacker, was exhorted once in my 20s on the behind-the-building track all us engineers ran at lunch to “run thru the pain!! You gotta ignore it!!””

        It wasn’t my muscles (oh how I miss them!) that was the source of pain, it was my damn undersized, high instep feet. They were getting crushed. Fortunately I was smart enough to switch to something that I am designed even worse for, but is a zillion times less damaging – bicycling.

        It also matches my less-than-social personality.

        1. Arizona Slim

          Aw, darn, chris. You just busted me! I’m a cyclist for precisely the reason you mention in your final paragraph.

        2. Anthony Stegman

          Wait a minute! In my neck of the woods i see large groups of cyclists forming pelotons on the local roads. They seem very sociable.

      2. GramSci

        “I don’t give up when I should. Similar results in other areas of my life, where getting what I thought I wanted despite difficulties proved not to be such a hot idea.”

        No regrets, Yves! You still have the Olympic Gold for swimming against the tide.

      3. MRLost

        Another advantage of dance is flexibility. Dancers stretch a lot and that helps muscles and joints. However, too much is still too much. Professional dancers typically retire around 40 because their bodies just can’t take it anymore – (lots of NYT articles but I don’t have a subscription so no links.) It’s been more than 40 years since I took dance and I can still bend over and put my palms on the floor. My personal favorite benefit to taking ballet and modern was meeting all those cute girls.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      There are negative sides to grit too – in my experienced people who show what that study define as ‘grit’ are particularly prone to the sunk cost fallacy. These are the people who pursue projects until long after they are obviously not worth the effort. They are also the athletes who suffer from overtraining. A very talented runner I know of pretty much defined the word ‘grit’, but she drove her coaches demented by the self inflicted damage she did to her body by obsessive overtraining, especially when injured or ill. But it is certainly true I think that people with an element of grit do better in studying difficult subjects like math.

      If there is a secret to success, its far more likely to be habit. Most learning is about developing good daily habits to push yourself forward a step at a time.

      With physical issues – slow and gentle and consistent is the way. My good ‘habit’ is to do a daily 10 minute session with simple free weights to help with the mild arthritis I have in my hips and shoulder due to falling off my bike a lot. It doesn’t take much to make a real difference in the case of general ‘wear and tear’ type injuries. I know so many people who have suffered excessively because they never bothered following up on their physio advice on exercise.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I was the classic neurotic overdoer. Gym 7 days a week. Bad bad bad if I missed. And I worked out intensely. For instance, there was a period when I was doing 2-3 hours on the stair machine most days, level 8 out of 10. Once 3 1/2 hours. I could do that because I commanded a very high billing rate back then, and tended to get short projects (3 weeks to 3 months) that no one else could do well in the time parameters. So I had a lot of beach time.

        That’s tantamount to a marathon. Amazing what you can do on enough caffeine and with amusement (I was able to read all the financial papers and the Economist while slogging away, believe it or not).

        With the benefit of hindsight, I liked the idea that the first thing I did in the day was for me. And I am sure I was addicted to the endorphins. Plus this was in the 1980s and 1990s when the medical profession was all on board with more is better, likely to counter rising obesity, diabetes, and heart disease (and they probably told themselves patients would do only 40% to 60% of what they recommended).

        And in fairness, one guy who was also a mid-day regular observed, “The problem is you are in New York. If you were in Paris, you would have plenty of people who would be happy to join you for a three hour lunch.”

        But I have to disagree on intensity. You can get tons of benefit with short intense workouts. 20 minutes of interval sprints (30 seconds of what my trainer calls balls to the wall, top speed at whatever you are doing, running on a treadmill, rowing on a machine), followed by a rest period of 5-6X your work time (no typo, you need that much recovery to do another full on sprint, so 2:30 to 3 mins rest after the 30 second sprint) is way better for your heart than 20 minutes of moderate cardio. Of course, assuming your joints can take it!

        Also weigh training 3X a week is all your need. 4X max but that’s not for normal people, more like bodybuilders. More is not productive (and that I never did overdo). 1 hour total is the most you do and weight workouts are plenty productive at 35 to 50 minutes. Weight training is the single best thing you can do for anti-aging.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Oh, I don’t disagree at all about intensity. I just find that mentioning it freaks people out a little. There is a lot of new interesting research indicating that intensive workouts are very good for health, even for older people, but less is more with them. Keep them very short and absolutely no more than three times a week unless you are an athlete. But so few people do it past their 20’s, it takes a long time to get to the point you can do it meaningfully.

          There is, I think, a huge gulf between fairly driven gym/outdoors people and the rest (probably the majority). Most of the former are very bad at talking to the latter without putting them off entirely (I can plead guilty to this). I’ve a colleague who broke her leg badly in a freak office accident (immediately after, believe it or not, a health and safety talk!). I did everything I could to persuade her to keep up with physio and did everything I could to help and encourage her, but she was just not into it and seemed content to just accept lower mobility in the long term. Talking to doctors in my family, she would represent a majority, not a minority of people.

      2. grayslady

        If there is a secret to success, its far more likely to be habit. Most learning is about developing good daily habits to push yourself forward a step at a time.

        Sorry, but can’t agree with this at all. Learning, imo, begins with desire. Some piece of information has to be sufficiently intriguing that you want to find out more. Then you need to find a presentation of that material that works with how you process information. For instance, I’m a Miss Marple type of learner–it’s easiest for me to absorb new material when I can relate it to something else I already know. I need building blocks. Others have different triggers.

        As for success, I believe success comes when you have clear goals and a realistic assessment of how to achieve them. Street smarts play a significant role in achieving the small victories that eventually lead to success, as well as constant critical re-evaluation and a lack of fear in making changes. I’ve seen plenty of people with remarkable raw intellect who never achieved their potential due to lack of social awareness. Grit strikes me as a bumper sticker word, but determination, rather than habit, and a critical evaluation of shortcomings that need to be addressed, is often the difference between success and mediocre, or unexpected, results.

        1. adrena

          Learning, imo, begins with desire

          I desire to spend 2 hrs/wk with my super handsome personal trainer. Keeps me super fit.

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          Not at all the process with me. I work out whether I want to or not even now with more moderate habits. The most important part about working out is showing up. Even when you think you don’t have the gas, most of the time you find out otherwise once you get going. And if you really are too pooped you can always stop/leave.

          And I did not start out of desire but dissatisfaction.

      3. km

        I find the NC habit of comments in the form of quotes from song lyrics to be annoying, but “You gotta know when to hold ’em, know when to fold’em; know when to walk away, know when to run
        …” to be useful as a piece of advice.

    4. The Rev Kev

      I’m not buying this idea of just ‘grit.’ It just sounds like a trendy word for ‘perseverance’ so is not anything new. In any case, it is just a trait that does not relate to any metrics for successful behaviour by itself. Actually, you could relate it to that old American legend. You know the one – ‘If you only work hard enough, you will always succeed and become rich in America.’ So yeah, grit is just about working hard consistently so is nothing new. And promises nothing.

      There is another saying I heard about that sounds closer to the truth. It said that ‘we are paid by our ability to complete things.’ So right there you have a metric built in. You actually complete tasks/assignments/jobs, etc. and that is how you are viewed as successful and are consequently paid. Yeah, that one I can buy into.

      1. Wukchumni

        When I was a kid, comic books had ads for Grit newspaper, $19.95 two person submarines and the like…

        During the first three-quarters of the 20th century, Grit was sold across the country by children and teenagers, many recruited by ads in comic books from the 1940s to the 1970s. Approximately 30,000 children collected dimes from more than 700,000 American small town homes during the 1950s when the publication still carried the subtitle, “America’s Greatest Family Newspaper.” A comical ad in Richie Rich comic books aimed to recruit more young salesmen, suggesting that Richie’s father, Richard Rich, got his start as a businessman selling Grit.

      2. Geo

        For what it’s worth, and not directly on topic but related, I’ve just been trying to reframe my perspective on it all. I like your take that it’s about accomplishment more than just effort. Oddly (or not) I’ve found some of the most rewarding accomplishments in life sort of just happened (inspiration, lack of overthinking, etc) and some of the most frustrating are ones I toiled on far too long and too much.

        At the end of the day it seems to mainly be about values – we live in a society that places high value on symbols (currency, titles, etc) and those symbols are rewarded for tasks competed or time spent. But, accomplishments are not always rewarded by a symbol. An obvious example: Giving a sandwich to a homeless person doesn’t elevate my job title (and lowers my currency value a bit) but feels more valuable than either of those symbolic values.

        But, the symbolic values are necessary to sustain a bare minimum living standard so still need to focus on that unfortunately. As William Deresiewicz once wrote: “It’s hard to build your soul when everyone around you is trying to sell theirs.”

        Grit, as written about in that piece, feels to me (and I may be misunderstanding or projecting) to be a justification for grinding through tasks that have no clear value. Not a bad thing at all. Life after all has no clear value but we all grit our way through it. But, it seems like a trendy way to speak about striving. In fitness the CrossFit culture loves their gritty gyms, movies have embraced retelling popular stories in gritty new ways, fashion loves a little grit with biker jackets and torn jeans selling for thousands, etc. To say “I have grit” seems like I am embracing that American “rugged individualism” or the cowboy iconography (True Grit), pulling myself up with my gravity-defying bootstraps.

        Or, maybe I’m just being cynical. Probably that.

  8. John Siman

    OK, I just read “The road from Rome: The fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t a tragedy for civilisation. It was a *lucky break* for humanity as a whole.” Is this intended as a parody of the barbarism into which corporate academia has collapsed?

    1. cocomaan

      Large empires were generally indifferent to overseas exploration, and for the same reason.

      The author asserts that if the Roman Empire had survived, nobody would have ever crossed the ocean to the Americas, because it took pluralism of governments (ie, competing Western European states) in order to produce the competition needed for overseas exploration.

      I don’t get it, though. Rome was looking Eastward and was doing plenty of trade with South and East Asia.

      And this idea that the Roman Empire was some kind of unified force without its own internal divisions and pluralism is kind of bogus to me. Ambition and success was a religion in Rome.

      Big “Citations needed” in this article.

      1. Andrew Watts

        That assertion is hard to prove one way or another given the lack of historical records. Parthia wouldn’t exactly be thrilled with Roman – Chinese cooperation seeing as they’re stuck in the middle and it would threaten their monopoly of the Silk Road. The Han Dynasty did send an expedition westward to “discover” Rome and possibly ally with it against the Steppe tribes.

        By the time Byzantium inherited the Roman mantle the Jin Dynasty was aware of their internal succession at the bare minimum.

          1. NotTimothyGeithner

            “importing the art of pyramid building, political systems and religious practices as well as mathematics, writing and a sophisticated calendar”.

            Though “pyramid building” is usually a dead giveaway about the quality of the source. Dumb dumbs can’t build pyramids without being shown by enlightened beings.

  9. A.

    Re: Weak Case, while I agree that “grit” is a more or less rehash of conscientiousness, I would still contend that such a rehash is useful in reminding people of hard times and harder problems, all of which are normal and should be engaged with as part of one’s engagement with the wider world. At the least, it is a useful antidote to the dominant sentiments of our current times in which social media turns people into infants, journalists act as scolds, university students demand censorship, and the general order of things is that things are as good as they are ever gonna get (or bad and cannot ever get better due to the omnipotent tyranny baked in the system etc etc). So “grit” may be redundant, but sure, I’ll still take it over the latest invocation of woke ritualism.

  10. JTMcPhee

    “Ally with Vietnam:” say again why 56,000 GIs and 4 million Vietnamese got killed back in the Memory Hole? And are there echoes of “entangling alliances” in the wind, like the ones that let the assassination of an archduke and his wife become a triggering event for a war that while it made a lot Gilded Ager types rich, killed 22 million? Setting up the dominoes once again.

    Geopolitics — the gift that keeps on giving death and destruction, and war profits.

    I’m disappointed that my grandson is into Monopoly and The Game of Risk! and computer simulations of war war war… Hoping he does not decide to join the military or the spook brigades…

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Australia set to host clinical trial of genetically modified Covid nasal spray vaccine”

    Volunteering to spray a genetically modified substance up you nose? Yeah, nah! I think that people are starting to get a bit gun-shy around all these experimental vaccines. Heard about a side effect of the revelation of death by blood clot as it hit the news earlier this week. So there is a major hospital in Sydney that had about 170 bookings for people to get vaccinated. The next day they had zero bookings. People got rattled and I don’t blame them. My wife has a friend her age going through chemo. Her doctors offered her a jab of Astrazeneca but she pointed out that as she was having a rough time with the chemo, would it be wise to also add a possible reaction to the vaccine on top as well – and then declined the invite. Was her doctor just trying to make up the numbers?

    I will mention a thought that I had the other day. So there are a lot of people that are having a bad reaction to one or other of the vaccines and we oursleves know a couple that got hospitalized when they went for their shot together. This being the case and if there is a choice for a couple, perhaps it would be wise for each partner to have the shot about a fortnight apart. That way, if one has a bad reaction, the other will be able to help take care of them while they get over it. Just a thought.

  12. Jesper

    About grit, this quote from the article seems important to its popularity:

    It’s a sexy, appealing idea: grit predicts success, grit can be measured, and grit can be improved.

    grit can be measured

    People in management and executive roles often love things that can be measured. They often also love subordinates who will always put in the effort and never question – similar to how the generals in WW1 loved the soldiers who followed orders and went into situations where death was all but guaranteed.
    Once a general/CEO has expressed an idea then the idea is to be considered to be brilliant and can only fail if the subordinates do not have grit and follow through until the (bitter) end.

    Grit might be a good thing when doing the right thing but sometimes it is better to recognise failure early and move to the next thing. The difficulty might be to finding out when further effort in doing the same thing will lead to success and when no matter the effort/grit the chances of success are insignificant and it is better to reconsider.
    & as far as I can tell then grit can vary within a person for different things. Some give up reading a difficult book but will finish a marathon. Some give up while in a marathon but will finish a difficult book. Who of those two has more grit?

    Life is complex, using one measure of success in life and using one predictor for that success might possibly be over-simplifying a little too much.

    1. Wukchumni

      There was a young miss in her mid 20’s working at the resort in Mineral King last year who had true grit in that i’ve never seen anybody else like her in the way she went about walking, we’re talking 30-35 mile dayhikes with lots of altitude gain & loss, and she never ran-more of a long strider.

      I was blown away when she walked the Mineral King Loop in a day, its typically a 4 or 5 day backpack trip of 35 miles with 3 high passes.

      She had been a Yank in the Royal NZ Ballet for a few years in her late teens, a different type of true grit altogether-going nowhere fast.

    2. Allfred

      When one stops thinking about “reward” or “who gets the credit” or gets fixated on one result, one gets immersed in the task and sees all the possibilities, and carried along. It’s possible to get obsessive, I guess. I often would forget to eat. I would not associate grit with going to your death on threat of punishment if you refuse, or a zest for killing.
      Right now, it takes grit for me to face the mundane tasks of the day–I’m tired of doing all that stuff I have had to do to maintain my life over and over for years and years, but I talk myself into it, and feel better afterwards.

    3. Michael

      “People in management and executive roles often love things that can be measured.”‘

      Seems a symptom of not trusting and can’t not meddle with a dose of my original idea might not be right.

      While it is hard to watch as the efforts of others unfold, mid course corrections often fail. Except the F35 of course!

    4. km

      Grit is like anything else. It leads to success sometimes, and sometimes it gets you killed..

      Too little grit when you need it, and you’re a wimp. Too much grit at the wrong time, and you’re Don Quixote, or that guy who doesn’t know how to quit while he’s still ahead.

  13. The Rev Kev

    “Nina Burleigh, The Pandemic Memory Hole”

    It may be hard to imagine but maybe when the pandemic passes, perhaps these years will be forgotten the way that the pandemic of a century ago was. When it got to the point that this previous episode was not mentioned in medical history books much nor in the autobiographies of people that were in the front line fighting it, you know that it can happen again. Another more recent example was the Vietnam war which after it ended was to a large extent forgotten until films like “The Deer Hunter” started getting people to talk about it again. So yeah, I can see in a few years time this whole sorry episode being deliberately dropped down a memory hole with its masks, riots, lockdowns, vaccines and all the rest of it. Not many people will want to remember these sorry times. And the changes that will happen because of the pandemic? We will just take the new conditions for granted.

    1. allan

      “the Vietnam war which after it ended was to a large extent forgotten until films like “The Deer Hunter” started getting people to talk about it again. ”

      Wait, what?
      Saigon fell in 1975. The Deer Hunter is from 1978.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Yes but the US, Oz and other countries got out in earlier ’72. I remember that time distinctly. After having footage from the Vietnam war on the TV news each and every night for nearly a decade, it just ‘went away.’ So did the protests, the arguments and everything associated with it and people stopped talking about it. The soldiers returning from the war found to their surprise that people were not interested in it anymore and did not want to talk about it and kinda ignored the vets. It’s like how for the past four years it was Trump, Trump, Trump, Trump every day, every channel, every tweet all the time. But now you do not hear much about him in the news anymore and people have lost interest in him. Same sort of thing.

        1. Dina

          Except for the old clucking chickens of the left who manage to bring him up at every Koffee Klatch, or if not him, their new folly, Matt Gaetz.

        2. Duke of Prunes

          I wish people would stop talking about Trump. At least in the US, he must still be “selling”. I turned into a late night “comedy” show the other day after quitting a few years ago because of their incessant Trump, and dropped midway through the opening monologue because Trump, Trump, Trump. I also see many “infotainment” bits where there’s a tenuous Trump tie-in. I guess it’s hard to not keep going back to the well.

      2. cgregory

        People were distracted from thinking about the Vietnam war by Nixon’s POW/MIA diversion, which very cleverly built on families’ grief and losses. The memory of the war itself was drowned in a pool of pain and vindictiveness generated by the focus on those who never returned.

    2. flora

      I had problems with her article. We, in my family and circle, did not forget the 1918 pandemic and the importance of public health programs and agencies, or the importance of financial regulations, or the importance of anti-monopoly. The neoliberal economists and big business and their pols brushed these things aside in the name of higher profits and lower taxes for the top 1%. The neoliberals also didn’t forget, they ignored them in the name of profits. (This past year was very profitable for them. Because markets.) My 2 cents.

  14. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: Trumka worried about the Vermont chapter

    Just like Team Blue. When elites call for activism, they mean sending roses to Pelosi’s office.

  15. Wukchumni

    Despite Bakersfield, California, making improvements in reducing its short-term PM2.5 levels, it was named the worst U.S. city for year-round particle pollution for the second year running. It was followed by Fresno-Madera-Hanford and Visalia, both of which are also in California.

    The Most Polluted Cities In America [Infographic] Forbes
    There’s a reason homes are $200-300k in the CVBB, versus a lot more in the Big Smokes in Cali… bad air, low lying Tule fog in the winter, and the 100 days of 100 degrees in the summer.

    The lower reaches of Sequoia NP has about the worst air quality in all of the National Parks, which means it ain’t so bueno here living cheek by jowl-the one downside I suppose, but its a completely different type of smog compared to the 60’s & 70’s version in LA where you really couldn’t see very far, the San Gabriel mountain range was 25 miles away in a straight shot from our front porch and only after a substantial rain which temporarily cleared the skies, would they magically appear maybe 5x a year. Your throat ached and your eyes burned, PE in school would often be rescheduled indoors, looking back it was a horror show.

    Our smog here isn’t obvious when you’re in the middle of it on the down low in the foothills, I can look 25 miles away @ Sierra peaks most every day with nice clarity and never feel that it has compromised me anything like what I went through as a kid in the midst of maLAria, no breathing or eye issues, more of an invisible threat.

    But conversely, when i’m above the 9k smog line in the NP where bad air dissipates, it’s crystal clear but looking down it has the appearance of peering into a shaken snow globe of hanky air below, where I live.

  16. farmboy

    A tangential approach to Ag climate change reforms would be to come at AFO/CAFO from a trust-busting, anti-monopoly direction. the Obama admin studied and polled and just came short of legislative effort. Might be worth another run at it now under different circumstances with consumers and producers proven to prefer a more direct connection for farm, pasture raised livestock during and post pandemic. Great article by Linda Khan from 2012 yes, that Linda Khan.
    Beefing up (sorry) CRP is easy fruit and is being done. Carbon capture will be more problematic, but generous payments for incentives will be noticed.

    1. Alfred

      In Vermont we have robust small farms with CSAs that I am grateful for and buy almost all of my food from, in addition to having a large selection of local foods at the local Co-op store. Large dairy farms have transitioned into diverse operations. It worked through the past year very well. I think a lot of people have woken up to the fact that these small farms are more valuable than big ag in the long run. I have seen a number of new CSAs in the past couple of years.

  17. The Rev Kev

    “American Honey Still Contains Nuclear Fallout From the 1950s”

    This is not the only legacy of the atom bomb tests from this era. A study by the University of Arizona in 2017 found that fallout from these tests resulted in about 340,000 to 460,000 excess deaths in America from 1951 to 1973-

    So the next time somebody says that only a tiny handful of people were ever killed in the Chernobyl and Fukushima nuclear disasters, you will excuse my eye-rolls.

    1. Jack Parsons

      My favorite odd fact about nuclear fallout: certain medical and lab equipment is sensitive to background radiation, and certain parts can only be manufactured from metals that were cast before 1945. Where do you get metal that’s guaranteed to be old, and unsullied by strontium etc? Sunken warships from WW2.

      How do you find and harvest the metal from WW2 warship wrecks? Illegally! Permitting is way too hard to achieve. There is a black market of scavengers and middlemen.

  18. bob

    A Section of Border Wall in Texas Cost $27 Million a Mile. It’s Being Foiled by $5 Ladders. Texas Monthly

    $5? That ladder looks like $50 worth of lumber right now.

    1. Maritimer

      “$5? That ladder looks like $50 worth of lumber right now.”

      Exactly. Get a pickup, cruise the border picking up the ladders and you will not have to emigrate but can live in luxury in Mexico. Maybe also finance an Uber Ladder Biz.

  19. Dee

    About IM Doc’s comments with the article on covid vaccines and periods: I have a family member in a long term care home in Canada. In a discussion this week about vaccination rates with the director of the home he said almost all the residents consented to being vaccinated, but a significant percentage of the staff still declined the vaccine. He said they were meeting with those staff members one on one to discuss this, and one of the main groups he described was women who wanted to get pregnant.

    1. Raymond Sim

      My doctor knows I’m medically opinionated, and asked me what I thought about the Pfizer product when it was first out.

      I said that if I was a hcw worker in a hard-hit place like Texas or LA who’d made it this far unscathed using ppe I’d be happy to let other deserving souls ahead of me in line. If you could guarantee that I’d be protecting my family and patients by getting vaccinated that would be a different story, but of course no effort was made to establish efficacy against transmission.

      I added that by now, hcw’s in Texas and California shouldn’t believe a word their bosses tell them, and should anticipate vaccination being used as an excuse for weakening other staff protections.

      He sighed, “yeah.”

      FWIW I got my first shot of Pfizer (pfeh!) a couple weeks ago, as soon as I was eligible. And I’m urging my sons and their wives to do so as well. There’s plenty of reasonable basis for concern about risk from the vaccines being, ahem, underestimated, but imo the risk from the virus is even more underrated.

  20. Wukchumni

    It has been a few days since my second Pfizer plunge, and one of the side effects not oft mentioned is a proclivity, er a great inclination to invest in cryptocurrencies-which might explain their recent meteoric rise since the vaccine came out…

    I have no control over my actions as of late and can only hope Doge Coin does alright for me~

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      It’s not the vaccine, your behavior is caused by a feline parasite that uses a human host as part of its life cycle.

      1. Wukchumni

        Can’t say as I blame the catstituents, do they make a financial bubble flavored Temptations treat?

  21. Mark Gisleson

    The Alternet article [Sonia Sotomayor rips Brett Kavanaugh with a warning] was a great reminder of why I stopped reading Alternet: four paragraphs of ham-handed agitprop before a fifth paragraph finally grudgingly tells the reader what horrible thing Kavanaugh did (and it was horrible).

    I think that what bothers me most about neoliberal propaganda is their contempt for the reader. The first graf alone included FIVE judgmental words/phrases in just one sentence:

    “U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor delivered a strong warning to the American people and a strong rebuke of Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the newest far right wing Justices on the Trump-shaped conservative-majority Court in a blistering but brilliant dissent handed down Thursday.”

    “[S]trong warning,” “strong rebuke,” “newest far right wing,”Trump-shaped conservative-majority,” and “blistering but brilliant.” Wowsers. The second one-sentence paragraph only has three examples but that’s because half of it is a direct quote from Sotomayor. The next graph provides recent historical context for her comments. And so forth.

    OK, it’s Alternet, a site with a long history of loaded invective but this seems to be an important story, one that speaks for itself. Dialing everything up to eleven only distracts from Kavanaugh’s abysmal understanding of the law. Less would have been more. I suspect most of their readers forgot about the 15-year-old long before they got past the mandatory Tweet insertions (and here’s what other people who agree with us say!).

    All the reader needed to know was that a 15-year-old boy went to prison for life for defending himself and Kavanaugh is OK with that.

    1. Expat2uruguay

      All the reader needed to know was that a 15-year-old boy went to prison for life for defending himself and Kavanaugh is OK with that.

      I have to disagree, the really scary thing about the way the court acted is they have no interest in judicial precedents. A point that the article made rather strongly and well. Not that your criticisms are not valid, only this last sentence that summarizes what’s important about the article.

    2. marym

      I agree the AlterNet post is written as if rebuking Kavanaugh was an end in itself…which I guess for the libs it always is, but Sotomayor’s purpose was much more serious.

      I posted the Slate link below on yesterday’s Water Cooler. IANAL but I think it’s a good discussion of the opinion and Sotomayor’s dissent as a legal matter and a matter of humanity. Here’s the link to the decision and dissent too.

  22. a different chris

    This has nothing to do with the article, or any opinion I may have on “Grit” or what I think of the author. But again I cannot help noticing this — is this an American tick, or is it everywhere:

    >Yet Duckworth doesn’t appear to have ever explicitly claimed that she had discovered a reliable way of increasing grit.

    You. Are. Not. Automatically. Responsible. For. Solving. The. Issue. You’ve. Identified.

    But it’s a great way to shout people down, for sure.

  23. The Rev Kev

    “The road from Rome”

    ‘The fall of the Roman Empire wasn’t a tragedy for civilisation. It was a lucky break for humanity as a whole ‘

    Well no empire lasts forever and by the time Rome fell, it was kinda a backwater in world politics anyway. What was so remarkable about Rome was that it lasted so long in the first place. But when you step back, what really appears to have happened in the west is that ‘civilization’ was set back about 2,000 years so that this region had the same little kinglets, protectorates, etc before these larger amalgamations started to coalesce together. The only thing really different was the technology available to the people and the scope of how people were able to move about. So in a way civilization found itself back at square one.

    1. km

      Is it not written that “If ‘all roads lead to Rome’ then even if you walk away from Rome, you still are on the Roman Road.“?

  24. cocomaan

    American capitalism has passed its peak — and the signs of decline are piling up Richard D. Wolff, Independent Media Institute

    Wolff goes through the usual list of reasons America is about to implode on itself. Cited 1/6 as one of the signs of the real decline of America (lol).

    But I think he’s slipping. For instance, he cites the 1930’s and 1940’s as eras of reduction in income inequality. Those are also eras of intense human suffering, the Dust Bowl, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young men in wartime, the complete destruction of Europe as a US competitor, and so on.

    Who in their right mind would yearn to go back to 1930’s and 40’s America?

    I know I’m simplifying his arguments here, but this idea that American capitalism is doing something in the last 40 years that it wasn’t doing in the previous 80 is a bit of a joke to me.

    1. Grant

      “But I think he’s slipping. For instance, he cites the 1930’s and 1940’s as eras of reduction in income inequality. Those are also eras of intense human suffering, the Dust Bowl, the deaths of hundreds of thousands of young men in wartime, the complete destruction of Europe as a US competitor, and so on.”

      Well, the state could have responded to that crisis or WWII in a way that exacerbated already existing problems in that regard. I think an argument could be made that when you are facing a systemic crisis you can respond to that crisis in a way that is equitable or you could respond in a way that makes inequality worse. He gave one example and we can compare it to how the state responded to the crash in 2007/2008 and the fallout from COVID. I do think that there are in fact lessons to learn, especially when you think about the environmental crisis. We can respond to that in a way where we create a far more equitable and democratic society and economic system. Or, we could establish a brutal, feudal type of dystopia.

      I don’t think he is calling for us to create the horrible conditions that existed then, he is pointing to a collective response to a systemic crisis. We can respond in a way that results in worsening inequality, like now, or we can respond in a way that lessens inequality. Keep in mind too the power of the left then. It was imperative then that the response not make conditions worse, as it would have helped leftists organize against the system. The left nationally is growing but not nearly as strong at this point, and that is a big reason why the state response has increased inequality and suffering.

      1. cocomaan

        I see what you’re saying. I just don’t know that the income inequality gap tightening during the 30’s and 40’s was because of collective action. It seems to me it’s because the stock market plummeted and Wall Street bankers were jumping off of buildings because they’d lost their fortunes. The Fed didn’t bother to step in at all and the bread lines started, probably with a lot of the formerly rich in attendance.

        If one was to, say, talk about the Covid crisis 20 years from now, or, let’s say 20 years ago, the level of government intervention would be considered to be absolutely incredible. CDC enforcing eviction moratoriums and rent/mortgage forebearance? National forbearance on student loans and utility shutoff moratoriums? Every corporation large and small receiving payroll money from the government? Huge national efforts to fast track vaccines? It’s pretty unprecedented collective action in Covid, too.

        Food for thought.

        1. Grant

          I hear you, but the a huge reason why thing were far more equitable then was that unions were much stronger, the left was a real threat to take power and the system itself was breaking down. If the government in this country let things spiral out of control, it wasn’t impossible that a socialist revolution could have occurred. So, pressure from below is what led to the state doing things in response that crisis that didn’t increase inequality. The state could have, theoretically, done things to make inequality worse, but that would have come at the expense of working people and that could have brought the system down.

          I am not really talking about the government doing something in the economy. Yes, the scale of state intervention is great, but intervention towards what ends? The state could step in to do things right now on the same scale as far as the money it has injected into the economy and it could have greatly reduced inequality. We don’t have a leftist movement nationally like the country did then, there is nothing like the USSR around to scare the capitalists and unions are far weaker. So, those in power simply don’t feel the same pressure from below, they aren’t frightened about an alternative economic model, unions are far weaker and the left is not a threat right now to take power.

          So, I think him focusing on how the state responds to a crisis is important and on the money. I think there is a very good chance that a feudal type of system will emerge in the US in response to the environmental crisis, but it doesn’t have to be so. We just need far more pressure from below, a far more powerful left and a coherent alternative we agree to organize towards. Start to replicate what social movements did then, and you are far more likely to see equitable outcomes.

          1. Procopius

            Wait… what? The unions were not strong in 1932-6. The National Labor Relations Act was passed in 1935 because the courts were still issuing injunctions against strikes and the Pinkertons were still breaking heads. The unions didn’t actually become strong until after 1941, when war profits were so large (despite controls) that companies were desperate to hire more people. The unions also perfected some tactics, like the sit-down strike, that helped after the government made employers cut back on union-busting a little bit. People did form associations, like farmers’ granges, that dumped milk in the streets and burned crops in the field. Mobs formed to stop sheriffs from selling people’s farms and belongings to pay back taxes. There was more solidarity among the working class, but the unions were not yet strong.

  25. Michael

    Anyone have a good media source for an Earth Day presentation that was tough minded?

    I watched ABC’s version with my wife and couldn’t stop groaning. She finally asked me to leave.

    Can’t ask for sacrifice: no one would.

    Tech will save us and give the UE high paying jobs.


  26. Wukchumni

    Going to Burning Man this year? You may need proof of a COVID-19 vaccination MarketWatch
    In a week they are going to announce whether it will happen this summer, and i’m all geeked up to go after a dozen years away from the game, all thanks to a buddy buying an RV last year because of Covid-who has always wanted to experience Burning Man, and that’s the way to do it, in style. (although little does he know that alkali dust gets into everything)

  27. antidlc
    U.S. CDC probes new death, hospitalization after J&J vaccine shots – officials

    The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating the death of an Oregon woman and the hospitalization of another in Texas after receiving Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, state health officials said.

    The incidents come as advisers to the CDC are set to meet on Friday to consider whether it is safe to resume injections of the single-dose vaccine, while senior health officials prepare for a green light.

  28. buermann

    “Biden’s school plan doubles down on same old failure” The Hill

    Someone will have to prove to me that EdChoice, the authors’ pro-voucher think tank, didn’t support NCLB that brought all the new staffing on board that they complain about in this piece, who were necessary to ‘hold teachers accountable’ under the past 20 years of high stakes testing regimes and union busting efforts.

    Public schools have cost around 5.5% of GDP since the early 90s, the student-teacher ratio has hovered around 16:1 since the late 90s, almost nothing they describe as the “same old failures” has any explanatory power for any of the things in education that have actually changed.

  29. Duke of Prunes

    About used car prices. I have experienced this first hand (to my benefit).

    My daughter is starting a job that requires safer, more reliable transportation so we have been car shopping this past week. Some dealers seemed just as interested in her 15 year old Sentra (with some dings, scratches and a little rust) as selling us a new car. The price we got for it was similar to its value a few years ago (when it had fewer miles, dings and rust).

    The stock of new cars is also low, but, luckily, the incentives have not quite caught up (I got a rebate and 0.9% financing on a popular car). This will probably change next month (so if you’re looking to buy a new car, get moving). Everyone was “buy now!”… which, they always say regardless, but there was not a lot of stock to choose from, and many manufacturers were not taking orders (and forums are full of people complaining that cars they ordered months ago have still not been built, and their target dates keep getting pushed).

    Seeing this, I looked into the value of the econo-box I bought last fall (a car class that is on its last gasp). CarMax is willing to give me $1K more than my remaining loan amount (I put 0 dollars down, and this is high tax IL). This, for a 6 month old, economy car?!?! What happened to the adage that a car loses 30% value when you drive it off the lot? So much for my gap insurance.

    I don’t exactly see the connection between car prices and overall inflation, however. I think the high prices of used cars are more of a low supply/high demand dynamic for this particular market vs. making a statement about the overall economy (aside from the growing precarity that is stimulating used car demand because so many cannot afford new – to the point where a dinged up 15 year old small car is sought after by resellers).

  30. Raymond Sim

    Nina Burleigh’s assessment of Covid-19 as ‘relatively benign’ is premature, see ‘High-dimensional characterization of
    post-acute sequalae of COVID-19’ just out as an accelerated preview in ‘Nature’.

  31. enoughisenough

    What is going on with the Post Office?? I am terrified that it is being allowed to fail, by both parties.


    Mainstream Dem voters are opportunists who don’t care about anything unless it serves their immediate needs. No one seems to care about the post office anymore, but it is crucial to keep it the services robust and inexpensive.

    That WaPo article didn’t even mention DeJoy’s egregious conflicts of interests.

    I’m worried this surveillance thing is going to be used as an excuse to disband the PO altogether.

    What can we do? :(

    1. Grant

      Would be nice to appoint someone that is serious about returning to postal banking, which private bankers called the “postal banking menace” in their propaganda war against postal banking decades ago in this country. Also, maybe not forcing the postal service to pay benefits decades into the future.

      1. enoughisenough

        it sure would. I’m seeing stuff about how the Dems (corporate monsters that they are) are settling into keeping that thug DeJoy.

        And populace has turned off, I’m despairing.

  32. Gulag

    “…Capitalism is on track to repeat the same three step trip: birth, evolution and death.”

    “U.S. Capitalism has reached and past its peak.”

    Thinking globally for a moment, Capitalism (in all its forms) appears in 2021 as almost the sole economic system in the world. On a global basis it is now certainly peak capitalism.

    As far as U.S. capitalism is concerned Wolff may be on firmer ground. It would be nice, however, to see Wolff discuss in more detail whether the stabilizing mechanisms which have kept U.S. capitalism alive and functioning (such as the welfare state, accomodative banking through lender of last resort functions, and occasional bouts of genuine fiscal stimulus can continue to keep this game going and if not why not.

    1. Grant

      “Thinking globally for a moment, Capitalism (in all its forms) appears in 2021 as almost the sole economic system in the world. On a global basis it is now certainly peak capitalism”

      Anyone talking about global capitalism needs at this point to explain how a decentralized market economy can deal with the environmental crisis and stay in place. Yes, the global system is unquestionably capitalism, and that is the biggest reason we have an environmental crisis that is set to spin out of control. In China, for example, there is a massive environmental crisis that is going to radically change Chinese society. It is a big reason why, I think, the Communist Party has been backtracking on saying that market forces will be dominant in economic decisions in China. The Communist Party announced that it would a few years ago, and it has not followed through. If decentralized and unplanned market forces are dominant in China’s economic system, how exactly do you deal with an environmental crisis where most environmental impacts cannot be priced, where the limits to growth in consumption and pollution generation are being reached, where China’s per capita water availability (already extremely low) collapses when you negate water that is so polluted that it cannot be used for human consumption or in agriculture? You can’t. Carbon emissions are one part of a much larger crisis anyway.

      My point is that yes, capitalism is globally dominant, and we stand no chance to really address the environmental crisis as long as that is the case. Which means that in a very short timeframe we will have to choose survival or this economic system. I don’t think we are going to make the logical or moral decision, we certainly haven’t to this point.

      1. Gulag

        What gives you any hope that we will choose to survive? You have mentioned above that the key institutional alternative (the Soviet Union) collapsed in 1989-990, that labor union power is at best stagnant, and, if I may add, that what passes for the Left seems dictated by political/economic/cultural messages promulgated by the “revolutionary” forces behind CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times.

        1. Grant

          Last sentence in my post, “I don’t think we are going to make the logical or moral decision, we certainly haven’t to this point.”

  33. JTMcPhee

    Hey, I got this in the mail yesterday from, of all places, the Internal Revenue Service, a month and a half after the IRS put $2,800 [not $4,000] in the family checking account:


    My fellow American,

    On March 11,2021, I signed into law the American Rescue Plan, a law that will help vaccinate America and deliver immediate economic relief to hundreds of millions ofAmericans, including you.

    A key part of the American Rescue Plan is direct payments of S1,400 [not $2,000 as promised] per person for most American households. With the S600 direct payment from December, this brings the total relief payment up to
    $2,000. This fulfills a promise I [and his predecessor Trump,, apparently] made to you, and will help get millions of Americans through this crisis.

    I am pleased to inform you that because of the American Rescue Plan. a direct payment of $2.800.00 was issued to you by direct deposit. If vou haven’t received your payment within 7days of receiving this letter please check the status of the payment by visiting the IRS web site or calling the IRS phone number listed at the bottom of this letter.

    There may be other parts of the American Rescue Plan that will help you as well. For example, there is aid for small businesses, an expanded child tax credit for families, and resources to reopen our schools safely. The American Rescue Plan also extends unemployment insurance and helps reduce your health care premiums if you have a plan through the Affordable Care Act.
    To learn more about this law and how it will work for you, please visit

    When I took office, I promised the American people that help was on the way. The American Rescue plan makes good on that promise. This bill was passed to provide emergency relief to millions of Americans. I want to be sure you receive all the benefits that you are entitled to.

    This has been a long, hard time for our nation. But I believe brighter days are ahead. We are on the path to vaccinating the nation. Our economy is on the mend. And our children will be back in school.

    I truly believe there is nothing we can’t do as a nation, as long as we do it together.

    (Signed electronically)

    President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

    Not sure whether to frame this as an example of liberal duplicity — remember Pelosi killing a $2,000 actual $2,000 dollar bill last year so Trump couldn’t get his name on something good for the “American people” — or just chuck it in the memory hole.

    Not that we do not gratefully acknowledge receipt of the money, which was much needed.

    Interesting to compare this “relief” with what Putin outlined for the people of the Russian Federation in his recent address to their federal legislature… But Joe assures me he wants me to receive “all the benefits [I] am entitled to…”

    As if.

  34. Andrew Watts

    RE: Afghanistan — the long defeat

    The author spent a lot of time and effort trying to answer the question of what did the US get out of Afghanistan? My answer is nemesis. Which is what usually follows hubris. When your defeats and failures are compounded over time, and people don’t learn anything from them, disaster ensues.

    The idea that Americans will use this opportunity to learn from history is laughable. If American military historians or officers had learned anything from history we wouldn’t have gotten involved in the Vietnam War. The Seminole Wars, particularly the second one, should’ve demonstrated that American military power is limited when fighting in a land-locked region with terrain that favors the defender. Small bands of Seminole warriors who were vastly outnumbered waged a successful insurgency from the Everglades. That wasn’t exactly a win for the US either regardless of the outcome of the wars.

  35. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Even Record Death Toll May Hide Extent of India’s Covid Crisis”–Bloomberg

    All things COVID 19 related might just be starting to get somewhat interesting. Because, the adventure only really begins when things no longer go according to the plan and as the predictable failures emerge due to various limitations, such as but not limited to, failed/incorrect assumptions at the political/personal level, failure to coordinate on multiple levels, failure to properly moderate/attenuate conflicting information [Such as, information that is hastily released by information gate keepers that is then found to be faulty/incorrect later on, causing increased confusion and distrust in the general population.], and faulty heuristics.


    1. “While more research is being done to understand the link between the discovery of the triple mutant and the new surge in viral infections, the main point is that this mutant is not only highly transmissible, it may also escape any sort of immune barrier.”

    2. And a great deal to contemplate and slowly digest in the following linked article:

    Where, for example,

    [Coronaviruses are actually pretty unique in that almost no other RNA viruses have proofreading capabilities! As the virus’s polymerase replicates its RNA, other enzymes in the replication machinery check to see if there’s been a mistake and fixes those mistakes. This proofreading function is part of what has slowed our ability to generate antiviral drugs against COVID-19. . . . since coronaviruses can proofread, if one of these drugs is used by the polymerase, the other enzyme will catch it and can fix the error.

    This virus came from nature and now humans have spread it all over the place. If different humans in different parts of the world start giving it to wildlife and/or farm animals we could set up a situation where we create multiple different new animal reservoirs for this virus. Each of those animal reservoirs will push the virus in very different directions as it adapts to that new animal. If it still retains its ability to jump back to people…that might be time to pack for Mars.

    So I think the safest thing at the moment is to assume that vaccine development and distribution and timing is going to be a long-haul effort, regardless of resistant strains circulating.]

    In the meantime, rest assured that the next [COVID] wave is anticipated, so it is time to go out and hit the lip, because “All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.” YOLO, FOMO, ect., ect., ad nauseum.

  36. Petter

    Reading the grit article led me to this line of thinking:

    Napoleon Hill, Norman Vincent Peale, L. Ron Hubbard,
    Psycho-Cyberntics, Silva Mind control, A Course in Miracles, NLP,  EST, Tony Robbins, Willpower…
    Knowledge, secret knowledge, knowledge that gives you an edge. Discover your hidden potential, be all that you can be.
    “Sick  with information, pleading for sign
    Bending towards the stars, looking at the sky
    Maybe we’ll become something  different next time
    Something gentle, something kind.”
    Sick With Information – Big Blood  (on YouTube)

  37. Maritimer

    Boeing still working on fix for 106 grounded 737 MAX planes -U.S. FAA Reuters
    “During the 1990s, a series of rudder issues on Boeing 737 aircraft resulted in multiple incidents. In two separate accidents, pilots lost control of their Boeing 737 aircraft due to a sudden and unexpected movement of the rudder, and the resulting crashes killed everyone aboard. A total of 157 people aboard the two aircraft were killed.[1] Similar rudder issues led to a temporary loss of control on at least one other Boeing 737 flight before the problem was ultimately identified. The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the accidents and incidents were the result of a design flaw that could result in an uncommanded movement of the aircraft’s rudder.[2]:13[3]:ix The issues were resolved after the NTSB identified the cause of the rudder malfunction and the Federal Aviation Administration ordered repairs for all Boeing 737 aircraft in service.”

    It took ten years! to discover the problem!

    Anyone interested in things 737, aircraft safety and the process of Government regulation (Covid vaccine, anyone?) should know that the 737 had a disastrous prior crash history.

    The Discovery Channel Canada TV Series Mayday (called Air Crash Investigation or Air Disasters in some markets) dramatized the NTSB’s 737 rudder investigation in a 2007 episode titled “Hidden Danger” (broadcast in some countries as “Mystery Crashes”).[4]

    They also did another show on the same 737 rudder issue. See your local Torrent dealer.

  38. Foy

    “Mindfulness can make you selfish. A pioneering new study examines the social effects of mindfulness”

    From the article “”Research suggests that mindfulness works, but this study shows that it’s a tool, not a prescription, which requires more than a plug-and-play approach if practitioners are to avoid its potential pitfalls.”

    And “People in Western nations most often think of themselves as independent, whereas people in East Asian countries more often think of themselves as interdependent. Mindfulness practices originated in East Asian countries, and Poulin speculates that mindfulness may be more clearly prosocial in those contexts. Practicing mindfulness in Western countries removes that context.”

    The corporatisation of mindfulness has been sad to observe. If you need an app to practice mindfulness then you are doing it wrong. Being mindful is one of those things you that should not measure, chasing results leads to no results, just let any results take care of themselves

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