Links 4/25/2021

Tyrannosaurus rex walked surprisingly slowly, new study finds CNN

Global chip shortage spreads to toasters and washing machines FT. That’s a damn shame.

Junk Just Keeps Notching Records Heisenberg Report

Lego Heirs’ $20 Billion Fund Says Future of Offices Is Unclear Bloomberg

The internet is breaking. Here’s how to save it. Dan Kaminksy, Cyberscoop. RIP Dan Kaminsky.

US electricity emissions are halfway to zero Volts

He’s a climate scientist working for the Saudis. Can oil money help him save the planet? Reuters

Australian academics enlist amateur scientists to study microplastics Reuters


The World Needs Many More Coronavirus Vaccines Editorial Board, NYT. “Suspend patents.”‘

Vaccine makers say IP waiver could hand technology to China and Russia FT. Good!

* * *

Lebowitz: “There seems to be a lack of understanding of what air is.”

Short plexiglass….

Isolation of SARS-CoV-2 from the air in a car driven by a COVID patient with mild illness International Journal of Infectious Diseases. If you must take a cab, open the window!

A guideline to limit indoor airborne transmission of COVID-19 PNAS. “The current revival of the American economy is being predicated on social distancing, specifically the Six-Foot Rule, a guideline that offers little protection from pathogen-bearing aerosol droplets sufficiently small to be continuously mixed through an indoor space.” CDC, good job. Worth reading in full. Commentary:

The Dose Makes the (risk of) Infection CorsiAQ

* * *

The Science Behind Masks Current Affairs

When Can Biden (and the Rest of Us) Take Off Our Masks? New York Magazine. Who’s “the rest of us”?

N95 masks, now plentiful, should no longer be reused, FDA says AP

* * *

Postvaccination SARS-CoV-2 Infections Among Skilled Nursing Facility Residents and Staff Members — Chicago, Illinois, December 2020–March 2021 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC.

Interim findings from first-dose mass COVID-19 vaccination roll-out and COVID-19 hospital admissions in Scotland: a national prospective cohort study The Lancet

Covid: Smell training recommended for lost sense of smell BBC (Re Silc).

Gifts of Mars: Warfare and Europe’s Early Rise to Riches (PDF) Journal of Economic Perspectives. Interesting:

In this paper, we argue that Europe’s rise to riches during the First Divergence n this paper, we argue that Europe’s rise to riches during the First Divergence was driven by the nature of its politics after 1350—it was a highly fragmented contiinent characterized by constant warfare and major religious strife. Our explanation emphasizes two crucial and inescapable consequences of political rivalry: war and death. No other continent in recorded history fought so frequently, for such long periods, killing such a high proportion of its population. When it comes to destroying human life, the atomic bomb and machine guns may be highly efficient, but nothing rivaled the impact of early modern Europe’s armies spreading hunger and disease.


Watch what you say: Hong Kong civil servants become wary of office snitches jostling to prove loyalty SCMP

The U.S. Congress Wants to Know More About What the Chinese Are Doing in Africa China Africa Project


Hundreds Detained by Myanmar Military Simply Disappear—‘Where Is My Mom?’ WSJ

Chevron Lobbies to Head Off New Sanctions on Myanmar NYT

ASEAN Won’t Save Myanmar Foreign Policy. Nobody serious ever thought that it could.

Pakistan’s COVID-19 Battle Is Missing a Crucial Ingredient: Public Support The Diplomat


Coronavirus cases in Kolkata: Every second person getting tested in Kolkata is positive Times of India

U.S. racing to send aid to India as COVID-19 cases soar Reuters. “Racing” in a headline is a tell, for me; I feel it signals a systemic screwup being handled by frantic managers thinking of political implications, now that the story has hit the press. “White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Friday said U.S. and Indian officials were working to find ways to help address the crisis, but gave no timetable for the support.” So, blah blah blah. The Biden administration, in general, does not seem to be nimble in responding to crisis. That’s especially unfortunate when facing an exponential process like a Covid outbreak, as Biden’s Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, should know, since he was sold to us as Obama’s Ebola Czar. Why aren’t the C-5s in the air already? Especially if this whole “Indo-Pacific” thing is more than window-dressing?

India airlifts oxygen from abroad as Covid ‘shakes nation’ FT

Why is it so hard to get oxygen cylinders in India? Quartz (Re Silc).

Covid timeline, a thread:

World’s Biggest Covid Crisis Threatens Modi’s Grip on India Bloomberg. Hmm. I’d want a local opinion on that.

At Government Request, Twitter Takes Down Some Tweets Critical of Official COVID Handling The Wire

Why the fire on Cape Town’s iconic Table Mountain was particularly devastating The Conversation

Pfizer backs down over “unreasonable” terms in South Africa vaccine deal Bureau of Investigative Journalism


Iran-Israel tensions: The threat of nuclear disaster looms large Middle East Eye

Turkey summons US ambassador over Biden’s genocide recognition France24


On Greensill London Review of Books

Coronavirus digest: Germans protest curfews in several cities Deutsche Welle

Biden Administration

Chocolate chip diplomacy: Biden courts Congress with gusto AP

Pharmaceutical Industry Dispatches Army of Lobbyists to Block Generic Covid-19 Vaccines The Intercept

If climate change is a ‘priority,’ Biden must shed the cold war approach to China Responsible Statecraft

White House’s new $1.8 trillion ‘families plan’ reflects ambitions — and limits — of Biden presidency WaPo.

The Mystery of AS8003 Kentik. The timing is extremely odd.

Trump Legacy

Why Aren’t We Celebrating Operation Warp Speed? Zaid Jilani, Inquire

Police State Watch

The Defund Police Movement Takes Aim at Fusion Centers and Mass Surveillance The Intercept

What’s in the anti-riot law and how will it play out? Brevard could be first to know Florida Today


#182 Conspiracy in Plain Sight (with Edward Snowden) (podcast) Russell Brand, Under the Skin. Nice get!


Experts believe a contagion effect could be tied to recent mass shootings NBC

Images: Downtown Decatur’s latest mixed-use project has liftoff Urbanize Atlanta. “Amenities call for a full-time concierge and ‘activity director,’ along with the pet spa and coworking space that’s becoming par for the course with intown multifamily development. Also in the mix are a sauna, pool, and rooftop deck with a greenhouse, coffee bar, courtyard, and gas-fire tables.” It’s like you never have to leave the facility. Will there be guard towers? A moat?

Guillotine Watch

George W. Bush Can’t Paint His Way Out of Hell New York Magazine (Re Silc). He doesn’t need to. He gave Michelle candy.

Class Warfare

Low-Skill Workers Aren’t a Problem to Be Fixed The Atlantic

Gig workers fear carjacking, other violence amid spike in violence crimes NBC

How Capitalism Created Doomscrolling Tribune

Why Do Economists Ignore the Greatest of All Market Failures? Brad DeLong, Grasping Reality

Mandevillian intelligence Synthese. From 2017, still germane: “Mandevillian intelligence is a specific form of collective intelligence in which individual cognitive vices (i.e., shortcomings, limitations, constraints and biases) are seen to play a positive functional role in yielding collective forms of cognitive success.”

Apple’s $29 AirTag is a coin-sized tracker that helps you find lost things — here’s how it works CNBC. Poetry break. A villanelle, not a sonnet–

The Heretical Origins of the Sonnet JSTOR. “Highly dialectical.”

How To Live In Wonder Caitlin Johnstone

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


      1. Left in Wisconsin

        Well, Graeber is dead but my sense is that most of the Marxists left in university settings, at least in North America, are anthropologists. There is now a subfield called “economic anthropology” that is mostly populated with, let’s call them, alt-economic viewpoints: Marxist, humanist, de-growth, etc. But it’s not my discipline so I don’t know much more than this.

  1. Alfred

    From “Junk just keeps notching”

    hunt for yield engendered by central banks, and one shouldn’t underestimate the extent to which it becomes self-fulfilling. When corporates which would otherwise be in distress (either figuratively or literally) not only retain market access, but are in fact able to borrow in abundance for near record-low costs, it creates a kind of suspended animation dynamic — the credit cycle is effectively frozen in time.

    This has been going on for years in one form or another. I can recall analyst notes from a half-decade ago discussing the extent to which the credit clock had “stopped.”

    Begging everyone’s indulgence here–I try to get meaning from the (to me) peculiar syntax of finance articles. Central Banks are in a permanent state of manipulation to keep the “yield” going?

    1. Left in Wisconsin

      “Yield” = “rate of return”; “hunt for yield” means “search for a high rate of return”. Since junk bonds carry a higher interest rate, investors searching for a higher rate of return may choose to invest in junk bonds. Central bank policy over recent years (some would say decades) has been to keep interest rates very low – this is the “manipulation” referred to – which spurs investors to seek out riskier, higher-yielding assets.

  2. flora

    re:Australian academics enlist amateur scientists to study microplastics – Reuters

    “There’s evidence that we are breathing it, ingesting it in our foods. There’s lots of studies showing it’s in our water, it’s in our food products,” said Scott Wilson, research director of the Australian Microplastic Assessment Project (AUSMAP).

    Plastics and phthalates – a group of chemicals used to make plastics more durable – are a hormone disrupter. Here’s Joe Rogan “Dr. Shanna Swan on How Plastics in Food are Affecting Our Hormone Levels”. ~15 minutes utube.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That Rogan clip is brilliant, she explains things beautifully. Rogan has a real knack for getting scientists to explain things clearly and with enthusiasm- maybe precisely because he doesn’t know very much about science so he asks the ‘stupid’ questions.

      It has to be said though that the issues with phthalates goes well back before she mentions it. I still have a useful doorstop – the 1996 USEPA draft guidelines on Dioxin – and it lists a huge amount of studies on phthalates and related endocrine disruptors, and many writers at the time (I was doing some peripheral research on the topic back then) were highlighting disturbing trends in human biology. But at the time nobody really knew whether it was pervasive chemicals like dioxins or PCB’s or those we are in more direct contact with, such as phthalates that were the most dangerous. We still don’t know for certain, but I think it looks like its the more common chemicals like phthalates that are doing the worst damage.

    2. Rod

      Advertising to grow up by:
      DuPont used the “Better Living Through Chemistry” slogan not to promote particular products, but to change viewers’ opinions about the role of business in society. In the words of DuPont’s advertising director, Charles Hackett, the advertisements sought to address “unspoken fears of bigness in business”, which were based on “an emotional rather than a rational foundation”.[3]

      Funny Business, until i learned about phthalates and their effects on Hormones.

    3. Copeland

      Did not read the article, bet related: Why would anyone buy or use sea salt anymore?

      Have they found a way to produce it without micro-plastics?

      I’ve decided to only buy salt that’s been deep underground for a billion years or so, until I learn more about the situation.

  3. GramSci

    “Why aren’t we celebrating Operation Warp Speed?”

    Because in its ambition to save half of Amurica, it planned to sacrifice half of the global south.

    1. km

      If a Biden (or an Obama, or an HRC) Administration had given us Operation Warp Speed, the Team D Cult would be signing its praises nonstop in every MSM publication, broadcast, etc. in the land, and the Global South wouldn’t even merit a mention.

      The reason Operation Warp Speed isn’t celebrated is that the MSM does not want to give the Trump administration any credit for anything, deserved or not.

  4. futurebroketeacher

    If you read the comments on that George W Bush article without vomiting, congrats! Those comments sound a lot like my former centrist friends who wave away war crimes and Hurricane Katrina and the 2008 housing crisis. Bush made Trump look like a wise and competent statesman. That is an objective fact. Bush’s wars killed hundreds of thousands, orphaned hundreds of thousands of children, and permanently ruined millions of lives. He does not get to be forgiven just because Michelle Obama and him are pals.

    1. Pat

      Tribalism is still blinding us, and not just towards Bush. Everyone seems to forget that no matter how awful we think Bush and his administration was, Michelle Obama’s husband was quite comfortable continuing or expanding much of it besides being the architect of a few horrors on his own.

      That article should have a subtitle – “and Obama can’t golf or produce documentaries his way out either.”

      It is a very small club, but it is one.

    2. Michael Fiorillo

      #McResistance liberals were so traumatized by Trump’s crimes against decorum (and how it rubbed up against their own indomitable moral vanity) that they are eager and happy to ignore crimes against humanity.

      BIPOC lives matter, but apparently only within the borders of USA USA!

    3. Phil in KC

      This is a subject where both-siderism or what-about-the-other-guy-ism applies most aptly. Noam Chomsky once opined on the various crimes of modern Presidents starting with Nixon. He gave a pass to Ford and Carter, but every President since has committed crimes of some magnitude. The two Bushes, Clinton, Obama, and Trump all could not pass the Nuremburg test for war crimes. We should demand better of our leaders and better of ourselves.

      1. Josef K

        Yes I see a bit too much of this contrarianism–because Obama sucked, as he did, Trump wasn’t as bad as all those with TDS made him out to be. IMO TDS cuts both ways. Bush was a monster (if only in tandem with Dickw@d Cheney), Obama was a Reaganite in drag and a traitor to two races, and Trump was another monster, but with something even more unforgiveable, bad taste. I simply can’t abide bad taste.
        Was it George Carlin or a lesser comedian/social commentator who had a quip about the “other POV” film of JFK’s asassination that every new President gets a screening of to make clear who’s really at the stick. In the end it doesn’t matter if it’s decent men corrupted by the office, or only crooks who make it there.

  5. 430MLK

    From “Downtown Decatur’s latest mixed-use project has takeoff.” Two parts grabbed my attention. First, from the article, on how plans change: “Challenges with site topography prohibited building a larger, four-level parking deck and thus reduced the number of planned units to less than 200, according to developers. Plans to add 29 rentals meeting affordability standards were nixed when options to build them—beefing up total units to around 230—were found to be cost-prohibitive, Modera development officials have previously said.” (Because, I mean if you gotta cut 10% of your housing b/c of parking space issues, then the 10% devoted to affordable housing units should obviously be the first to go. Maybe the rationale was, ‘hey, studies show that some affordable housing occupants in Atlanta have cars, and we assume our model Modera tenants tend to have drivers’?)

    The other one was from the comments, and continues the theme Lambert identified: “So people need an ‘activity director’ now– what is this, a dry-docked Love Boat?”

    1. Arizona Slim

      Hate to say it, but there are such people.

      Think of kids who had their lives micro-managed by their parents. They’re adults now. And free time — with nothing to do — can be frightening to them.

      1. The Rev Kev

        You think that they left enough sheltered space at street level for all the homeless people that cannot afford to pay $3,000 a month in rent?

        1. ambrit

          Street level??? That would mean that we “useful job creators” would have to see them!! No harshing my buzz for $3K per for me! Let Atlanta do what so many other municipalities do; bus the “homeless” to the nearest county line and tell them to never come back. That’s what Miami Dade did in the run up to a Super Bowl once. It worked too! None of the Television networks mentioned seeing homeless camps etc. during their Super Bowl coverage that year.

      2. polar donkey

        I once had a college student who was a hostess at our restaurant have a breakdown because of free time. 20 minutes crying in bathroom in middle of shift. She felt she was failure wasting so much time. This poor girl probably lives in Atlanta and has an activity director today. Strange how everyone carries a powerful computer on them at all times allowing such high levels of multitasking, yet most of that multitasking is basically PR and everything seems to be falling apart.

        1. chuck roast

          Thanks for that. I always thought that constantly staring at ones hand allows one to avoid the anxiety of developing social skills. Nice to know they are multi-tasking.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      And, according to the renderings, you can even “travel” down to street level for an “international” experience at the Oyster “Haus,” where you can add a side of weinerschnitzel to any entree for just $9.99.

    3. Carolinian

      Hate to say it but Dekalb County–I once lived there–was a Klan stronghold back in the day and is home to Stone Mountain and that Confederate carving. Feel confident there will be no Reb statues in the new Love Boat.

      1. rowlf

        I like climbing to the top of Stone Mountain and taking a whiz. It is a special feeling. Whistling Marching Through Georgia on the way back down makes me feel good too.

    4. chuck roast

      Well, yeah people need an ‘activity director.’ These are the same people that grew up having play-dates and are now PMC operatives in complete control. And, yeah there is a bit of irony there, but they are not confused when it comes to being obedient.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    US electricity emissions are halfway to zero Volts

    This is a really important article – it explains clearly why so many projections on electricity energy sources are so consistently wrong (usually by over-estimating demand for fossil fuels), and why we are in a much better place to transition electricity to largely CO2 free sources than many people think. A key point is that power infrastructure is continually being renewed and altered – once the price incentives are in place, oil and coal in particular can and are being phased out very rapidly, especially as solar and wind are so cheap now.

    Specifically, he looked at the EIA’s business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, its projection of what would happen if 2005 policy were frozen in place. (He also looked at other projections, to make sure EIA wasn’t an outlier.) Here’s the top-line conclusion:

    Fifteen years ago, many business-as-usual projections anticipated that annual carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from power supply in the United States would reach 3,000 million metric tons (MMT) in 2020. In fact, direct power-sector CO2 emissions in 2020 were 1,450 MMT — roughly 50% below the earlier projections. By this metric, in only 15 years the country’s power sector has gone halfway to zero emissions. [my emphasis]

    It also gives a clear explanation about why the ‘we can’t have renewables because battery storage is too expensive’ argument is to a large degree a false one. There are a variety of step-down technologies that can permit renewables to penetrate much deeper into markets than a simple ‘snapshot’ photo of distribution networks makes obvious. In particular, existing gas turbine power systems can in many networks allow for a transition over several decades. Or put another way, we have the time to organise our transmission systems to transition, there is no excuse for waiting for this to happen before going all in on building solar and wind generating capacity.

    It won’t be easy, but the path to 90 percent electricity sector reductions is relatively clear. After that — wringing out that last 10 to 20 percent of emissions — things get a little trickier. Doing it only with today’s clean resources, especially relying on batteries to provide all the flexibility, gets rapidly more expensive as zero approaches.

    We will need more backup from “clean firm resources” — Wiser cites “longer-duration storage, hydrogen or synthetic fuels, biofuels, fossil or biomass with CO2 capture and sequestration or use, nuclear, geothermal, and concentrating solar-thermal power with storage.”

    The cheapest option for that additional flexibility, at least from what we can perceive today, is just keeping open a bunch of natural gas plants, but running them only rarely. That won’t get us to net-zero, but it will get us close. When I pressed Wiser on which clean-firm resources he would bet on eventually replacing those plants, he cited “using hydrogen in existing retrofitted gas plants, and new longer duration storage techs.”

    Many other countries, especially those with more experience of dealing with small distribution networks, are much further down the way in integrating systems in a way that would allow a transition to renewables over the usual investment lifespan (20-15 years). Fracking was an environmental disaster (as was the European ‘dash for gas’ in the 1990’s), but it has left us at least one positive legacy – a network of CCGT gas burning stations that will ease the transition.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Actually, I think its awesome that laptops are now so energy efficient. The PC’s of 20 years ago used vastly more energy, and more embodied energy. The problem comes from having too many of them.

        Much of the embodied energy in products comes from the electricity used to manufacture them. So reducing the CO2 intensity of grid electricity, also reduces the embodied CO2 energy in the products made. Which sets up a virtuous circle, which has to be the aim for rapid CO2 emission reductions. This is why both reducing the CO2 intensity of creating electricity, while simultaneously electrifying as much of the economy as possible, is absolutely central to any sustainable model.

        1. JTMcPhee

          Maybe could give a nod to reduction in use of everything? Conservation, as it were? Or is that implicit in the model given? Just more “efficient” sourcing of more electric power to manufacture and power more “efficient” electric Gizmodos (like all the servers that serve the bitcoin/blockchain looters (now using as much electricity as the entire country of Argentina and on a geometrically upward curve of consumption, does not seem to be a winning strategy, if the game is a survivable and sustainable planetary ecology…

          1. upstater

            We have in the NY Finger Lakes a 100MW former coal thermal plant converted to gas for the explicit purpose of bitcoin mining:


            Maybe they can put up a couple of wind turbines and a few acres of PV to get their ESG certification…

          2. PlutoniumKun

            I didn’t mention anything about reduction or conservation because that is not what the article is about, and it wasn’t the topic of my comment. The need to drastically reduce consumption of both energy and materials, is so obvious I really have no idea why its supposed to be repeated ad nauseum every time the subject of energy production comes up.

            But energy reduction alone cannot address the problems we have. Even a rapid 80% reduction in energy use worldwide (an almost impossible target) would not stop rapid climate change if the remaining 20% of energy production was carbon intensive. This is why a rapid decarbonisation of electricity production is absolutely essential, whatever other policies are pursued.

            1. Jason

              I didn’t mention anything about reduction or conservation because that is not what the article is about

              Naked Capitalism wouldn’t have gotten far with that attitude!

              The need to drastically reduce consumption of both energy and materials, is so obvious I really have no idea why its supposed to be repeated ad nauseum every time the subject of energy production comes up.

              For the same reason we need to be constantly reminded that our economic structure is a fallacy created and maintained in the interest of the elite: because our lived reality is constantly reinforced both by virtue of living in it and via propaganda on its behalf.

              a rapid decarbonisation of electricity production is absolutely essential

              This is every bit as impossible as “a rapid 80% reduction in energy use worldwide.”

        2. Jason

          You have more faith in the proverbial technology fairy* than I do. And this is all a part of the larger problem of the domesticated mindset which most of us are born into and manufactured in – and yes, we are in many ways much more a product of an institutional manufacturing scheme (beginning with early education) than an organic, wholistic growth process taking place within a unique, place-based culture. This is not progress. It is a regression, and we don’t have a language or a cultural schema to guide us out of the mess we’ve created. It seems all we have these days is science and data.**

          There can be no “sustainable model” – an interesting term in its own right – without a fundamental change in our current thinking/feeling about the world, our place in it, and our relationship to our fellow beings.

          *said with the obvious recognition that technology can include something as “simple” as a hammer. I mean where we’re at now, with computers and AI and spaceships and nuclear weapons. As one wit put it some time back, “sometimes progress is knowing when to stop.”

          **Science, Hegemony, and Violence: A Requiem for Modernity contains seven essays which speak to all the problems of our new god, aka science. See also Paul Feyerabend’s Against Method.

          “The admonition to save the world amounts, then, to an acceptance that it be subverted wholly to our purposes through global development. And to promote “sustainable development” is to sanitize semantically the habitual project of planetary domestication and to provide a sense of salvation without the discomfort of authentic change.” – Neil Evernden, The Natural Alien

        3. cnchal

          As my dad keeps saying we need these computers and technology to figure our way out of the problem of too much computers and technology. He is serious. I laugh may ass off. Data centers. What are they good for. To store, in the form of zeros and ones that require electricity to stay alive, all the digital garbage produced from cell phones, the spying on cell phone, the mining of data to attempt to sell moar garbage to eyeballs looking at screens, the Kardashians, the influencers, Tik Tok idiocy, Facebook idiocy Twitter idiocy, Amazon idiocy Google idiocy and on and on it goes.

          Even the stuf that get’s written here, a tiny plankton of good in an ocean of bad.

          Now, I’m seeing those “e” Fords everywhere. I wonder if its gonna take 32,000 gallons of water to put out the fire after a crash just like Tesla? I expect to have an answer in a few days.

          What ever happened to KISS?

    1. Ignacio

      This prompted me to take a look at power generation data, an exercise I had been doing frequently and abandoned when I got short of time to do things like that and to visit naked capitalism more frequently. What you say about flexibility is certainly true. The Spanish grid manager provides in a graph the daily production divided by the different kinds of generators and you can easily see the daily shift depending on weather conditions favouring wind or sun or being very unfavourable when their share of production is changed to natural gas turbines.

      For instance the 21st of april wind+solar amounted only 99 GWh (minimum in the last week) and NG turbines produced 183 GWh. On the 23rd of April wind + solar produced 238 GWh while NG turbines went down to 83 GWh. Part of the increase in W+S was also used to reduce the input from hydropower, which is, again, highly flexible source. There is plenty of room to increase the share of wind and solar and renewables already account for more than 50% of power generation (during this week). Diesel engines and coal plants are well on its way to disappear from the mix with both producing separately less than 10 GWh per day.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Hope you are keeping well Ignacio.

        The same thing has happened in Ireland. Irish power demand fluctuates between 2GW to around 5GW depending on time of day and year. It used to be that the big coal powered Moneypoint plant provided most baseline power, but that shut down last year and they don’t plan to reopen it (they are building a very large off-shore wind farm nearby to use the existing circuit). A combination of better grid management with more external links to the UK (plus one planned to France) has allowed them to do without any large thermal baseline production. Gas, storage (the nearly 50 year old pump storage facility at Turlough Hill), and some hydro makes up the balance. Better interconnections will allow Ireland to ‘overbuild’ wind capacity, and there is a lot of solar in the pipeline for the summer, when wind speeds are far lower. But demand is rising very rapidly too, mostly due to a huge expansion in data centres.

        Ultimately, its not about high tech new storage facilities (although these are needed), but better management. I know quite a few Irish engineers who have gone to the US and been horrified at how the grid is managed. US grid managers have simply never needed to do the careful balancing act required that is second nature to smaller, more peripheral grid network systems thanks to the scale of operations. They are decades behind, they will have to learn fast, but it will also need a lot of grid investment.

    2. JTMcPhee

      What’s included in emissions? Stacks? Tailpipes? The whoosh of methane from all the holes and cracks we humans have created in the crust in pursuit of externality-driven “profits?” The CO and CO2 from subterranean coal fires and burning peat bogs, methane from greenhouse gas-induced warming of Arctic permafrost?

      And what is the shape of the curve that shows emissions from electricity generation are “halfway to zero”?

      I’d like to believe “we” are halfway to zero, and that might stop a Venus-quality runaway, but…

    3. upstater

      I wish I could share this optimism… The article celebrates reduced CO2, but it is an artefact of natural gas pricing out coal and little more. Sure the cost of PV and wind has come way down, but the big picture impact is modest.

      In New York state, Cuomo’s clean energy plan calls for 70% of electricity from renewable sources by 2030. In 2019, 40% came from natural gas, 33% from nuclear, 20% hydro, with tiny percentages for PV, wind and oil. It is important to note that Cuomo’s transition to renewables is largely predicated on hydro imports from Quebec, relying on HVDC submarine cables in Lake Champlain and the Hudson River plus huge new PV and wind projects. Very, very few of these are even at the permitting stage, much less acquiring property, ordering materials or construction. Cuomo will be retired or in jail in 2030, so it won’t be his failure.

      And New York state is ahead of the curve…

      Looking at PV, most everything being built in NY is grid scale; there are precious few incentives for residential or commercial installation, even though it obviates the need for transmission. Perhaps that is the intent? We installed 5KW ground mount PV 12 years ago. While we zero out our supply charges for the year (we still pay a monthly connection fee), during the winter we produce only one third of our consumption — and I brush snow from the panels. Nobody does that for grid scale solar.

      And through Cuomo’s whole process, conservation is NOT a major element. We need RADICAL conservation. With EVs, demand is forecast to increase 30%. Residences are supposed to convert to heat pumps and away from oil, gas or propane. Air source heat pumps work poorly in winter here and have to be supplemented with electric resistance heat. Keep in mind housing stock is old and without new insulation and windows, electric heat costs over $1000 per month for even a small house.

      Ultimately who is going to pay for all this stuff? I personally try to be low carbon, but most of my neighbors cannot be bothered. I also think people like Cuomo or Biden are “green” only in the regard to enrich their benefactors, just like Abbott in Texas or Dunleavy in Alaska do for oil.

      1. Rod

        We installed 5KW ground mount PV 12 years ago. While we zero out our supply charges for the year (we still pay a monthly connection fee), during the winter we produce only one third of our consumption — and I brush snow from the panels. Nobody does that for grid scale solar.

        And through Cuomo’s whole process, conservation is NOT a major element

        Thanks for the practical example–from the North no less–with a 5K PV. Yes, let’s talk the successful effects of picking the low hanging fruit first.

      2. juno mas

        Hmm.What is the winter electric load that overwhelms the 5K PV? Very large house? No day-lighting? Using incandescent bulbs for heat? Too many TV’s tuned to the NFL? Are those ground mounted PV’s on tilting racks? Or is it solar obstruction from low-angle sun shadows?

        1. upstater

          What is your monthly consumption? Do you live in a 200 sq ft studio apartment in southern California? Burn candles? No electronics? No home office?

          Residential consumption in the US is 877 KWH per month, per EIA. We live in a house and consume about 400 KWH per month. Our consumption is well below the national average. It is also well below the NYS average (which includes millions of downstate apartments).

          The system produces a maximum of 35 KWH in summer when we have 16 hours of daylight. In winter there is 7 hours of daylight. It also snows here. The sun shines 1 of 5 days in winter and a good day is 20 KWH. Production in winter is 200 KWH per month. This is the second most cloudy region after Seattle. The panels face due south, no obstructions, pitch adjusted seasonally. That is as good as it gets in this part of the country. When any residential system is installed in NY State estimated output cannot exceed annual consumption.

          Your comment should have a /snarc qualifier.

    4. Carolinian

      Thanks. If some of us are somewhat less doom and gloomy about AGW it’s in the belief that one can’t go wrong–long term–betting on human ingenuity. Perhaps we need to do like the Chinese and start training lots more engineers instead of stock brokers.

      1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

        There is little doubt that humans are quite clever. The remaining problems, to be solved if they are indeed solvable, are those where the applied solutions create a host of new unanticipated problems and externalities. Realistic appraisals regarding the limitations, or boundaries of human ‘ingenuity’ are hardly ‘doom and gloomy’. They are merely realistic appraisals, based on the results of past ‘solutions’, that is all. In the past deities such as Nemesis [Adrastia] delivered punishment to those guilty of hubris and arrogance. In a modern age where the men and women of this world have little use for seemingly archaic observations concerning this reality and its human actors, the punishments still remain,

        [Although, in reality punishment by human legal tribunals is rarely delivered. See for example, ]

        as does hubris, human ignorance, arrogance, and lack of respect for nature and ‘her’ laws. For example,

        “We have been thinking about environmental engineering wrong. It does not “solve problems” as is popularly believed. It transforms problems, creating new and different challenges that burden other people—and future generations. Beyond Mexico City, the fantasy that engineers can wave magic wands and make problems go away is the basis of a global economy built on the fossil fuel extraction that has led our society to the precipice of environmental collapse. Engineers—and our faith in them—make it possible to imagine that the crises we create today will be solved tomorrow by future innovators.”

        Finally, medical solutions to problems also create their own abundance of negative spillovers.

        “Iatrogenesis: A review on nature, extent, and distribution of healthcare hazards”


        1. Carolinian

          I did say “long term.” Short term we have created any number of disasters and as a child of the Atomic age I’d say the fact that we are still around is perhaps only by “the skin of our teeth.”

          But when it comes to AGW I’d say good intentions or Al Gore lectures are going to solve very little. Science brought about this particular problem (in response to human need) and scientists and engineers are going to have to solve it.

    5. Charger01

      The “all-of-the-above” strategy is a good one, due tot the geographic strengths and weaknesses that the lower 48 possess. Pac NW is blessed with built, abundant hydro (with the cost to salmon, silting and temp increases), where the midwest has wind in spades, southwest with ample solar. Using the other techs (geothermal, biogas/landfill gas, etc) with significant conservation and weatherization as a public policy would be fantastic. Demand side mgmt coupled with utility scale storage would finalize the shift.

    6. Roger

      Posted lower, having not seen this. The article is pretty much garbage:

      Re: “US electricity emissions are halfway to zero”. Yet another lying by omission bullshit optimistic story, by ignoring the methane emissions of natural gas exploration, transport and utilization. If we accurately take these into account, natural gas is just as bad, if not worse than coal. The authors have to know this given all of the research and articles on this, so this is a seriously truth and ethics challenged story. Last year, methane emissions soared due to all the improperly capped closed-down wells.

      Same as for Biden’s “50%” target, which is just pure discourse management bullshit – which of course was being lauded by the soft-denial (unwarranted optimism, playing down negatives etc.) crowd of mainstream greens. Just watch the emissions explode once the Western economies get going again.

      Plutonium King: “It won’t be easy, but the path to 90 percent electricity sector reductions is relatively clear” No its not if you take into account the political economic reality and reject the myth of eco modernism.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Apple’s $29 AirTag is a coin-sized tracker that helps you find lost things — here’s how it works CNBC. Poetry break. A villanelle, not a sonnet–

    They should call it the ‘St. Anthony’ (the ‘AirAnthony’? the iStTony?). Whenever anything got lost in my home, my mother would pray to St. Anthony and it invariably turned up, much to the deep annoyance of my atheist siblings.

    I hope they do a version that can be hidden in bikes, that alone could have a major impact in reducing the bane of all urban cycling commuters lives, the bike thief. There are trackers available already (they are quite expensive), and they’ve proven really useful in identifying professional thieves.

    1. Phillip Cross

      That would also be popular with distrustful parents, spouses and other high tech stalkers.

    2. fumo

      It would be cool to have trackers built into bikes in such a way that the frame would need to be destroyed to disable or remove it.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I believe there are some trackers that can be inserted into the frame, ie in the head tube before the stem is attached or something like that. Some ebikes have built in anti-theft systems and tracking too, and some kind of insurance where the manufacturer will replace the bike if they can’t locate the stolen one.

        I had a nice bike stolen last year :( this is despite my priding myself on locking my bikes properly, with sturdy locks (most bikes are feebly locked in Australian cities). Haven’t read the AirTags features so don’t know if they could pull stolen bike duty (ie, are they Bluetooth only?) but if they could I’d be interested.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Yes, there are trackers available, I got a stolen bike back a couple of years ago thanks to one. The police here tracked a bike with one, raided a house and found several dozen stolen bikes (one of which was mine) in the garage (along with hundreds of mobile phones). Apparently, the guy in the house would pay teenagers to do the theft for him. Bike theft is rampant in my area, its just easy cash for local teens and drug addicts and pro criminals just pile them up and later on sell them online (according to rumour, some are sent to the UK as its less likely the owner will spot the bike on any sales site).

          The flip side though is that in the UK the police advise road cyclists not to switch on Strava in their homes. Apparently thieves use it to identify who has a nice expensive carbon fibre Pinarello in their garages worth stealing.

        2. fumo

          The layup of CFRP in layers of fabric is well-suited to embedding a tracking device during manufacture in such a way that any attempt to remove it would necessarily irreparably destroy the piece it was embedded in. A few of the more expensive components in CFRP could also be similarly tagged and would make theft and resale of any of those pieces economically unviable.

      1. fumo

        In Italy, little pressed metal Madonna del Ghisallo tags can often often found attached to the handlebars or stems of old bicycles.

        1. witters

          In Tasmania, in the 60’s, my parents attached a St. Christopher Medal to my bike. Mum explained he was the Saint of Travellers.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I love that idea, although I suspect lawyers would have a field day if it accidentally discharged….

  8. The Rev Kev

    “The U.S. Congress Wants to Know More About What the Chinese Are Doing in Africa” China Africa Project

    Meanwhile, on the other side of the Pacific-

    “The Chinese National People’s Congress Wants to Know More About What the Americans Are Doing in Africa” America Africa Project

  9. PlutoniumKun

    Gifts of Mars: Warfare and Europe’s Early Rise to Riches (PDF) Journal of Economic Perspectives.

    What I find interesting about this is that it would seem from the argument that it was regular high death rates that helped Europe, by way of increasing the amount of resources per person, and possibly also stimulating higher productivity due to labour shortages. This of course directly contradicts traditional economic thinking which seems demographic declines as a disaster that must be avoided by any means (there is an entire industry of western economists telling the Japanese that they must breed more and accept more immigrants). This industry is now transferring its sights to China.

    We need both to prepare for what seems an inevitable rapid drop in birthrate worldwide, and welcome it – both because of the lowered impact on the planet, but also the potential to increase real wealth (measured in its broadest sense) per person without increasing consumption. It would mean of course sharing out wealth more and investing heavily in technology that increases ‘real’ productivity rather than the type of fake productivity increases sold to use by silicon valley.

    1. JTMcPhee

      Another interesting source on the funk and games of political economy in early Europe is of course “A Distant Mirror” by Barbara Tuchman.

      Her point being that there are so many hints of what we have become in how the polity lived and died back then.

      Current world population is 7.758 billion, more or less, and climbing still. Asymptotic growth in any biological system leads to crash and “morbid symptoms.” We humans had a pause with the advent of Covid, but we are right back on the path to destruction.

      Add the reality that almost everyone is striving for a bigger piece of the resource pie (including of course the many who are barely surviving), that older people are mostly the ones in power and running the consumptive machinery with an “Apres moi le deluge” carelessness, and what’s the likely outcome?

      I don’t think Gates and Bezos and Buffett and the rest give a rip about the future beyond the end of their lives (which they are paying a lot to have extended indefinitely, but in the knowledge or belief that they will be insulated from the crash.)

    2. The Rev Kev

      There may be a military aspect to all this in that with so much warfare, it became a sort of Darwinian development laboratory. So you had the Viking raiders causing mayhem but when they encountered a professional army did not fare that well. Mercenary armies came and went too as they were not a reliable form of defenses and could be brought off. Knights in armour ruled the roost until bodkin arrows leveled the playing filed for infantry once again. The Spanish Tercio came and went. The point is that over time a method of military fighting and leadership evolved in Europe that proved deadly when exported to the newly discovered lands.

      I have sometimes wondered if the thing about Europe is its geography. When you look at a world map, it is at the far west of a huge Eurasian land mass and which through squinted eyes looks like a funnel. So that as you have successive waves of people coming out of the land mass, they get compacted as they move further into what amounts to an oversize peninsular. In fact, they are further compacted by the presence of the Mediterranean to their south. This compactedness I would guess increases population densities and thus pressures which helps explains its history.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I can’t recall the name of the book at the moment, but years back I did read one of those ‘big picture’ history books which pretty much made the same article. Essentially, it argued that Europe’s broken geography and topography meant that every time there was a war or disaster or an empire fell, there was always some safe corner of the continent where free thinkers could go and the books remained unburnt. Hence technology and know-how always ratcheted forward even in the aftermath of what looked like catastrophe.

        The contrast was with the big centralized water based civilizations of China, the Middle East, or the pre-Colombian Americas where empires would arise, make enormous strides forward, and then collapse entirely, leaving the descendants with something of a ground zero from which they’d have to start from scratch and build up everything new again.

        LIke all such grand theories it probably doesn’t bear too close a look at the details, but there is I think an element of truth to it. There certain has to be a reason why so many great empires and civilizations collapsed like a pack of cards every time the Europeans arrived with a few muskets.

    3. vlade

      The best book I read on the industrial revolution argued that it was the high cost of labour in the England which was the driver for capital investments that drove the adoption of steam engine and other labour-saving devices. Basically, if you could have 10 serfs running a wheel every day with tried-and-trusted pumping technology, or a new fangled not-so-reliable steam engine for double the price, it was a no-brainer. It’s only when your labour was more expensive, and could have decided to leave at any time (equating the reliability issue), that the capital investement made sense.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    On Greensill London Review of Books

    The UK papers are full of the corruption scandals of the current and previous government today. None of them are small beer, they amount to billions of pounds handed out to cronies by one means or another, often in exchange for…. well, just a refurb job in one of Boris’s apartments.

    By any objective measurement, they are by far the most corrupt UK government in at least a century, and must surely now count as being at (at least) Italian levels of corruption, if not worse. The level of rot is unbelievable, it is very clear that the traditional internal balances that at least took the edge off the worst abuses are now gone, and may be irreparable (as there seems no prospect of a government committed to fixing things).

    But the Tories are still riding high in the polls.

    1. flora

      I think the same can be said of the US government. (The Teapot Dome scandal was in 1921-23.)

      Sometimes I wonder if the US pols have joined a “globalism cult” and think they can transcend this earthly nation state to a “higher globalized realm”; political and financial corruption that harms mere national interests and national economy isn’t a problem for them. They’ve disconnected from the country they’ve been elected to serve. My 2 cents. / ;)

    2. David

      Hard as it may be to believe, the British government funds a lot of anti-corruption training around the world, and with an apparently straight face.
      The recipe is always the same dreary managerial stuff: more oversight, more rules, more laws, more investigators, more parliamentary committees, more whistleblowing …. Such schemes have a 100% record of failure, because they simply make the dishonest try harder. On the few occasions when anyone has asked me how to combat corruption, I have said that it’s down to two factors: ethics and opportunity, both of which apply here.
      Fifty years ago, the British political system was massively less corrupt, although it also had very few formal controls. (Formal controls, by the way, substitute technical for ethical judgements: it’s no longer “is this right?” but “can I get away with doing it?”) It didn’t need those controls, because it had a very strong ethic, which you absorbed without consciously doing so. This ethic wasn’t a matter of chance either: it was deliberately created 150 years ago to deal with a crisis of corruption greater than we have now, not just by cleaning up politics and government, but by attempting to establish a state of mind where corruption was unthinkable. To do this, though, you required the stern and implacable ethics of serious High Victorian culture, often mixed with in-your-face Protestant morality. We chuckle, of course, looking back at all those pompous-looking white men from Oxbridge with beards and moustaches in formal suits and forbidding expressions. Today, we’re lucky enough to have the most diverse government in British history, and … oh, wait.

      But a couple of generations, even the most unethical politician would have found it very hard to game the system, because of the way it was set up. There was an absolutely rigid line between public and private, and between political responsibility and professional administration. Politicians could (and occasionally did) overrule their civil servants’ choice of a supplier on political grounds (it was called “political direction”), but they were never allowed to influence the actual evaluations, which were normally done by committees involving so many different interests that it would simply have been impossible to bribe everyone. And civil servants themselves were kept on a very tight rein, and on retirement most went into administrative jobs (bursar of a College was the classic) with no expectation of making money. Most of all, very few outsiders of any kind were allowed into the system, and none were allowed to influence financial decisions. So even if there had been ethically-challenged people in, or near, the system, they would have had few opportunities to be dishonest.

      Most of that is gone now, and the pace at which corruption has accelerated is frightening. And as you say, Johnson is doing well in the polls. Partly this is because Starmer, as a good Blairite, comes from the tendency which probably did more than anything else to ruin the traditional civil service ethos. Partly because he’s a ******* and a ******* and an even worse and more ineffective leader than I thought he would be.

      1. Ignacio

        This is sad. It was already sad to tale a look at the SamSays twitter and see how Modi’s populism is (not) functioning in India and then we have Johnson, he and his cabinet and the degradation of politics in a country that once was an example to follow. Now we are facing elections in the region of Madrid with a right-wing populist that might associate with the proto-fascists of VOX to rule us for 4 further years once they have got rid of their more democratic political associates.

        The race to the bottom will be a hard contest.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Years ago I attended a talk given by a senior official who worked in an environmental regulatory body here in Ireland back in the late ’90’s – he was tasked with showing around some senior civil servants from the new Balkan states on an EU backed anti-corruption project. His organisation regularly sent out inspectors to do whatever it is they did, and the Balkan guests kept asking ‘but how do you stop them taking bribes?’ Nobody could give them an answer that satisfied them – it just wasn’t an issue in Ireland (not that Ireland is corruption free, far from it, but that blatant type of bribery is extremely rare). He said it was illuminating that they felt it essential to never let an official out of the office alone to meet a member of the public under any circumstances, there should be at least 3 to minimise the risk of someone taking a bribe from whatever factory owner or farmer they were inspecting. At the very least, this tripled the cost of giving the bribe.

        His point in telling the story was that it hadn’t occurred to any of the Irish officials that there was any need for specific rules or checks to ensure the inspectors were honest – the deeper structures and culture meant that nobody would take the risk of offering a bribe, and it would be highly unlikely that it would be accepted. But when you were in a situation where bribes are casually offered all the time, and poorly paid officials were frequently tempted to take them, its very hard to get from that point to one to one where honesty and integrity was assumed. It takes decades of hard work to get to that point – and perhaps decades of terrible administration to get to a Balkan style situation. The UK seems to be engaged in testing out that assumption, and the rot is coming from the top down.

        1. Ignacio

          I am not sure how this will unfold but I see that rather than batteries for energy storage hydrogen is now seen as the option to invest in at least in the EU.

    3. Harry

      I think perhaps the rot set in before. Certainly standards in public life were slipping before.

      I have worked for a company which employed a British cabinet minister to provide us with commentary on British and European affairs. I’m sure you are all familiar with the gentleman concerned. A very tall man, with a taste for beautiful suits? He really wouldn’t look out of place on a Russian oligarchs yacht.

      I am pretty sure his work for us never got disclosed in the register of members interests. I think you would definitely struggle to persuade a British editor to say anything untoward about this man. He is one of their best sources and he does bear grudges!

      So the slippage in standards has been happening for years, although I admit that BoJo and Co have taken it to new heights. Primrose paths and all that.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    He’s a climate scientist working for the Saudis. Can oil money help him save the planet? Reuters

    The Saudi’s are a bit of a wild card when it comes to international climate change policy. They’ve historically been big wreckers in climate talks. But they are arguably the oil based country that would be least impacted by real change. As Saudi oil is so cheap to produce they would literally be the last wells to close – its high cost producers like Nigeria or Venezuela or Canada or Iran that would suffer far more. They also have vast resources of solar and wind which they could use to displace the need to produce more oil for export (hugely growing domestic demand for oil and gas has put a major strain on their oil production infrastructure). So who knows, maybe they might turn into the good guys after all, although i wouldn’t hold my breath.

  12. PlutoniumKun

    World’s Biggest Covid Crisis Threatens Modi’s Grip on India Bloomberg. Hmm. I’d want a local opinion on that.

    Me too – so often discussion of other countries is heavily distorted by the impact of educated emigrants dominating social media and so generating a false image of what regular folks are doing and saying on the ground. My only vague contact with this are the scientists of Indian origin I follow on Covid, and they are clearly very upset, but I don’t see any real anti-Modi wave yet. I’d love to hear from Jerri-Lynn on this (or indeed, any Indians btl here).

    1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

      Keep an eye on the ongoing West Bengal state elections, where Modi until recently was holding massive BJP electoral rallies. If current WB chief minister Mamata Banerjee wins, she might emerge to spearhead a national anti-Modi coalition. Her problem is that she heads a party, the Trinamool Congress, that has no national presence. The (main) Congress party, which does, has shown itself to be hopelessly incompetent. ’Tis long past time for the Gandhi family to step aside and let someone else take a turn.

      I was caught in India from Jan-Sep 2020. In speaking via ‘phone to friends in Bombay and Calcutta during the last couple of days, I hear despair and fear in their voices that wasn’t there earlier. What this bodes for Modi depends on how much worse the Indian COVID situation gets and how many more people die.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Referring to other links today, it seems India is sharing the problem with its former colonial master, that no matter how bad the government it can survive when nobody is giving the electorate a real alternative.

      2. skk

        Yeah, re: the Gandhi lot – IMO It IS high time they faded to black and they are fading away – in dribs and drabs but imo sadly still hanging in there and the Congress High Command cling to them too.

        Party structures and party memberships are pretty fluid in India though, I can go back to the decades ago days of Cong(I), Cong(O) – that’s just the party splits. The movement of leading members from party to party ( and back again ) is quite something.
        But there’s nothing god-given or rightness of western models of party structures and party memberships – righteousness that’s for sure,

        1. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

          I’m no expert on Indian electoral law, but I’m pretty certain Modi lacks authority to do that – especially as these are state elections – for Legislative Assembly seats – and he’s not even a candidate. I know the seventh round of voting is on for Monday.

          The Election Commission has scheduled voting for 16th May for “two Assembly seats in Samserganj and Jangipur in Murshidabad district,” according to Firstpost, as previous polling “has been declared void following the deaths of two candidates there.” Results for these two seats will be announced on 19th May.

          Until recently, Modi was addressing massive electoral rallies in West Bengal. The Election Commission has now banned public meetings of more than 500 people and imposed other restrictions as well. Per Firstpost, “The TMC chief and her nephew Abhishek Banerjee, who is the party MP, cancelled all their scheduled rallies and held them on the virtual platform as did Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 23 April.”

          I have been in India during previous elections, state and national, and the mobilisation efforts are amazing to observe. Voting is typically staggered over several polling dates, spaced a week apart IIRC, so that electronic voting machines can be moved from polling place to polling place, and police and other election resources deployed. I don’t know how it works for state elections, but national polling days are holidays, so that everyone can vote. India has higher voting participation rates than does the U.S. (I’ve posted about India’s electoral preparations before for NC, see What India Can Teach the US About Free and Fair Elections.)

    1. The Rev Kev

      What gets me in those old films is how you always get a bunch of jacka**es trying to shoot at a monster even though it obviously weighs tens of tons. Even in modern films you always see troops trying to shoot at monsters – this time weighing hundreds of tons – with their AR-15s. Seriously, what is the point? (2:36 mins)

      1. JTMcPhee

        ARs and AKs are used by poachers, in lands touched by the Great Powers Game of Risk and in the presence of globalized demand for “potent” organs and trophies, to kill elephants and other very large animals. The shooter has to hit something vital, of course, but a 30-round magazine of bullets traveling at 3200 feet per second can do a lot of damage. Even the big beasts (not maybe including the armored ones in the movies) can be brought down by enough smaller rounds in the liver or rupturing major blood vessels…

    2. fresno dan

      April 25, 2021 at 9:44 am
      How many people will travel back in time, and find out the study was about walking speed?
      Or learn about confidence intervals?
      I suspect that another study that found out that there were BILLIONS of T. rexs was probably due to humans, who time travelled and provided an almost limitless prey of slow (both intellectually and physically) snackies for the short armed waddlers.

      1. ambrit

        L Sprague De Camp, (naturally,) did a classic story about this theme; “A Gun For Dinosaur” which also treats the question of calibre.
        There is also the ‘original’ deployment of the “Butterfly Effect” by Ray Bradbury in his dinosaur hunting story “A Sound of Thunder.”
        My favourite take on this theme is the “theory” that dinosaurs died out due to overhunting by time safaris.

    3. Jeff W

      Or put another way, Ray Harryhausen was right….

      He might have been but, at least with regard to the clip, not about Tyrannosaurus rex. Gwangi was, after all, an Allosaurus.

  13. Tex

    Gunz: It would appear someone at NBC did not get the memo. If I’m reading correctly, NBC is stating that media’s production of 24/7 click driven hysteria might lead to an increase bad outcomes. Unintended consequences and all. Social proof is a thing. Imagine that.

  14. Darius

    Am I correct that the Bernays, organized money, and social media algos and bots have killed democracy? The Bernays led the way in showing how a systematic PR campaign could turn broad public support for Truman’s healthcare care plan into opposition. It made Reagan Teflon as he set in motion factors that are marching us off a cliff. The Bernays method is supercharged by bots and algos to kill off people like Corbyn and Sanders, among others. The same thing is making Modi Teflon in India despite what looks like the worst performance by a national leader in world history.

  15. The Rev Kev

    “U.S. racing to send aid to India as COVID-19 cases soar”

    Now this is a weird one. Logistics is still a strength of the US so what is the holdup? The Biden regime seems to be in a fluster what to do and when asked about lifting the ban on vaccine ingredients to India, more or less said that they will get back to them. India is running out of oxygen and the UAE, Russia, the EU are sending shipment to India of this badly needed supply. There is also resistance to sending over any spare AstraZeneca vaccines as well and it seems that Washington cannot make up their mind. Either that or you have all these little fiefdoms arguing what to do and how much help to give.

    At this point in time, I wonder what would happen if China suddenly announced to India that they are ready to ship a coupla hundred million doses of their vaccine and they can be in New Delhi within hours. They could even release videos showing pallets of vaccines ready for shipment. So, does Modi refuse because he is brawling with China? How will Biden react if he thinks that China has the jump on the US in sending help? Seriously, China should totally do that just to watch the fireworks.

    1. Duck1

      Are we seeing the opening stages of what may turn out to be a rather sclerotic executive in DC, with all the competing fiefdoms having an inability to coordinate and execute policy?

    2. bob

      “Logistics is still a strength of the US”

      According to who? Living here now nothing is in stock, and if it is in stock it costs 2x what it did 18 months ago.

      I could go on, and on, and on….

      1. Copeland

        > nothing is in stock

        Costco sent me an email coupon several days ago: “$100 off $500 in purchases, online only”

        So I went online specifically looking for a dining table or patio furniture.

        No luck, almost everything was “out of stock”.

        So, even though we aren’t looking for a new TV, I decided to look at those. Same thing, I picked out five different models that seemed like a good value, all out of stock.

        1. bob

          I’ve seen that scheme too now. They won’t even sell you the floor model anymore. They can’t sell something that doesn’t exist yet without something to stand behind first.

          You can buy it all you want. It’s going to be a while before you actually get it. We’ll let you know when it’s headed your way.

          Elon was ahead of his time.

      2. The Rev Kev

        “Logistics is still a strength of the US”

        Here I was thinking about the US military which is really all about logistics and which enable it to ship forces all over the world. Even in civilian life you have Amazon and its expertise in shipping goods.

        1. bob

          When was the last time the military did something that didn’t cost 10x what it should have and wasn’t 6 months behind schedule? In the case of the F35, decades behind schedule.

    3. Jerri-Lynn Scofield

      Rev: And how about sending some of those mobile hospitals that China built so quickly to cope with its own COVID crisis too? I understand that people in Indian metros are dying because there are no open hospital beds, especially in ICUs. Many could be saved with timely medical treatment.

      1. Rod

        agreed there.
        imo, If we were right thinking humans, we could watch both on the film at 11.
        Both Presidents should/could make it happen now.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “Global chip shortage spreads to toasters and washing machines”

    This gives me an idea. Manufacturing companies for things like toasters and washing machines should have separate manufacturing facilities. So one would continue to manufacture those items with all the you-beaut displays and digital working powered by the available chips. The second facility should manufacture the same items but with no chips and just working mechanically. The blueprints would still be on file from when that was all they ever did and it would only require a quick fancy exterior job to make it look modern and they would be good to go. So the wealthier people would continue to get all the “modern” stuff while the plebs got the simple jobs that would be repairable which would get a lot of the right-to-repair activists off their backs. Yeah, that could work that.

    1. jefemt

      And that company would get to make and sell BOTH. Wow. Concept!

      I ‘get’ to replace my second 10 year old LED TEEVEE (or not…!!). Circuitboard crapped out, part no longer made. Between this, and the digital front-loading clothes washers that die at 5 years and one day, I have some serious antipathy toward ‘things’.

      I hate being a rate-payer, BUT, I think leasing consumer electronics and being able to get a replacement and returning the electronic to the manufacturer has some merit.

      Would they fix ’em, or just quietly dump em in the river or ocean?

      The 7.9 billion of us WE (yes I am one of the crew–worse yet –living in one of the most intensive resource-demand first world ‘me-first’ nation-states) seem to be reaping what we sow here on the throw-away-society consumer driven dying earth.

      Mister Happy

    2. Lee

      My old dishwasher with mechanical dials lasted nigh on twenty years. The digital control panel on a new one I got from Bosch crapped out after only eighteen months. It took four unsuccessful repair technician visits over several weeks to finally declare the machine defunct. It then took a couple of months for Bosch to finally get me a replacement. The warranty was pro-rated over 5 years, so I had to come up with portion of the cost of the replacement.

      The only time my 22 year old jalopy came close to getting me killed was when one of its few digital components would shut down the engine, along with the power steering and brakes. I was far from home and out in the boonies up a mountain road when these intermittent stalls started. It was a harrowing trip home from the Sierras, across the central valley to the coast. The damned doohickey cost me $1,200 to replace.

      1. BobW

        I bought a 2 yr old car in 2018. The dash center display is where the radio tuner, backup camera, and other menu items show up. It went completely black, and then sometimes rotated through an alignment sequence (color bars, grey scale, etc.). Internet says cold solder on inter-board connection posts is likely the culprit. I used to work for a contract manufacturer and have seen and repaired many such faults in my time – but I am far too old to crawl around a car removing a dashboard to access circuit boards.

        Returned that car to the dealer and got a used car there that is significantly older. Still has electronics, but not as much.

    3. Pelham

      I very much like your idea. I propose a variation, though, in the form of an industrial cooperative that manufactures a range of basic mechanical products, sans chips. There could even be premium models that hearken to earlier, sturdier times (old ovens are a thing now, I understand).

      I’d go even further and have a factory that restores old cars. It could be called Cuba Motors, in honor of what Cubans have done to so magnificently keep American cars of the ’50s in running order. Personally, I’d like to have a ’53 Hudson Hornet. Granted these vehicles are polluters. But the embedded carbon emissions from their production entered the atmosphere long ago. Taking this into account, the added emissions from their tailpipes today might compare well with the embedded emissions from production of new electric vehicles.

      1. Rod

        so many bridge solutions laying around you need a bag to put them in.
        ‘Junk’ to Function is something I have always thought had incredible, embodied potential.

  17. semiconscious

    re: The Science Behind Masks Current Affairs

    I can’t pretend that there’s an easy solution to child wellbeing during lockdowns, but given that 40 percent of teachers and adults living with school-age children have definite risk factors for severe COVID-19, reopening schools isn’t the simple solution that Berenson would like it to be…

    lest we forget that children are, & always will be, so much more than ‘risk factors’, not to mention that there’re all kinds of ‘risk factors’ involved here:

    1. Yves Smith

      Large scale population-wide studies found that elementary school children were 2X as likely to introduce Covid into a household as adults, and middle and high school children, 7x.

      Sentimentality does not trump facts.

      And unlike Chinese, Japanese, and other Asian cultures, the West seems to have a problem with getting kids to wear masks.

    2. Foy

      I wonder if that mother was for strong initial lockdowns going early and hard and wearing masks in the beginning to eliminate the virus? $10 bucks says no.

      It’s all the more reason to go early and hard with masks and lockdowns. Just to remind you that school kids here in Melbourne and other cities in Australia don’t have to wear masks because um, we went hard and early and pretty much eliminated the virus other than sporadic outbreaks that we now seem to get under control now relatively quickly when they occur. Had 75,000 people in the MCG yesterday to watch the footy, no masks, life pretty normal. Perth in short lockdown after outbreak from quarantine (the hotel used is not ideal for that purpose), might be another few days but contact tracing appears to be working.

      You have to pay the early initial price to have no masks when there is a pandemic like this in order not to pay the greater price that mother is talking about now.

      With things going exponential in India I wonder what hose Indian children will be saying when they find out one or both of their parents has died, because hospital systems got overwhelmed and oxygen ran out, ‘I’m glad I didn’t wear a mask.’

  18. Pat

    Just a thought about Operation Warp Speed, I don’t think it is just that it is Trump and wasn’t as overnight as everyone might have wished that it seems to be given no credit (objections on fairness and effect on the global south would never stop our “leaders” from taking bows in the past).

    And even if I think it will be shouted from the rooftops if it happens, I don’t think they are keeping the Trump Administration’s use of this in their pocket for when the very likely large scale problems arise with these New delivery systems. Smarter folk did make sure Big Pharma was protected, but Our “leaders” don’t plan that long term generally.

    No, I think they are afraid of something too near on the horizon. They have to open everything up and have to go all in on this. Yet there is too much information that vaccines are stop gap measures and Could be very short term with variation. And it is likely they have even more information like this then we are getting. No one wants credit.

    1. IM Doc

      There is literally a betting pool among my academic medicine colleagues on how long it will be before Rachel Maddow begins referring to these vaccines as “Trump’s Vaccines”.

      I am not a betting man. But it is intriguing to think about.

      1. Maritimer

        Government Covid 19 activities remind me a lot of the initial US Vietnam involvement, then Gulf of Tonkin, then the daily “we are winning pressers and body counts”, then “we are losing pressers”.

        Meanwhile those who were pilloried, shamed, humiliated and prosecuted for opposing that illegal war began to gain traction with the populace. People finally realized that it was the unpopular minority vilified by MSM who were right. This phenomenon has repeated itself a few times since Vietnam.

        1. Procopius

          The sign that we were going to get heavily involved in Vietnam was about 1963 or 4, when there was a brief announcement on the radio that a contract had been let (by the U.S. government) to build a seaport at Cam Ranh Bay that would greatly benefit the South Vietnamese economy. I heard it, but the implications didn’t strike me until years later.

    2. km

      Good point. As long as the vaccines are seen to be working, the Trump Administration is given no credit for Operation Warp Speed, lest the masses start getting the wrong idea, but if it turns out that any of these vaccines have long term side effects, they will be labeled “Trump’s Vaccines” as surely as if Trump himself sometimes sneaked into the labs at night to alter test data and also infiltrated the manufacturing facilities to spike the the finished product with Gila Monster venom that he harvested personally.

      No, I am not a Trump fan.

  19. Harry

    On Greensill.

    “The Greensill scandal has its origins in the long-standing belief that only private enterprise can shake up fusty Whitehall. Jeremy Heywood, the cabinet secretary, was acting on this belief when he invited Greensill into Cameron’s administration in 2011. They had known each other since the mid-2000s, when they both worked in the City. (Heywood, who died in 2018, left the civil service after the Hutton Inquiry into David Kelly’s death, but returned when Gordon Brown became prime minister in 2007.) Cameron appointed Greensill, who had left Citigroup to start his own firm, as an adviser. He was given a desk in the Cabinet Office and a secure Number Ten email address. ”


    “Francis Maude, another member of the House of Lords, has also been drawn into the scandal: he was Cabinet Office minister when the doors of Whitehall were opened to Lex Greensill. (Maude, who is currently undertaking a government review of his former department’s operations, owns a private consultancy that has registered work for the governments of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman and Kazakhstan.)”

    Francis Maude you say? Hmmmm.

    1. Colonel Smithers

      Thank you, Harry.

      Further to highlighting the role of Maude, have a look at the line up employed by Maude at his consultancy. Hurd and Soames, whose brother runs Serco, are scions of Tory grandee families.

      Maude was briefly in the City when the Tories were in opposition and worked on some investment banking deals that required his opening of doors. This is similar to what George Osborne was hired to do at BlackRock and Robey Warshaw. Maude’s sojourn included encounters with Heywood at Morgan Stanley.

      1. Basil Pesto


        Hope I’m not being overly tangential, but I’m reading a novel at the moment called Throw Me To The Wolves by Patrick McGuinness that you (and also I think maybe David and PlutoniumKun) might find interesting, given some aspects of the milieu.

        (I read his first novel, ‘The Last Hundred Days’, set in Bucharest during the fall of Ceausescu, some years ago and enjoyed it a lot as well)

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I never seem to have much time to read much fiction these days, but that book certainly looks interesting, I’ll look out for it, thanks for the rec.

  20. Jason Boxman

    Police have put out flyers alerting people to the dangers of leaving their vehicles running while making deliveries.

    Well, they don’t call it DoorDash for nothing, do they? The whole gig model revolves around how cheap and easily replaceable workers are. I doubt much these companies care about murdered workers, except for the negative publicity and the difficulty of getting replacement workers to do as they’re told.

  21. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Heretical Origins of the Sonnet. This article is a good review in English of some ideas already widely accepted among Italian, French, and Catalan writers and scholars. The Sicilian school was highly accomplished, and I note that one of the earliest women writers recorded in Italy published sonnets sometime around 1260, that is, the same year as Giacomo da Lentini’s death and ten years after Frederick, The Stupor Mundi, died.

    Note that she’s a Tuscan. Ideas traveled quickly.

    My only quibble with the article is that Frederick, although a Swabian, was born in Italy and hardly a foreigner. He spoke Sicilian and several other languages.

    Wikipedia notes this about Frederick: “His Sicilian royal court in Palermo, beginning around 1220, saw the first use of a literary form of an Italo-Romance language, Sicilian. The poetry that emanated from the school had a significant influence on literature and on what was to become the modern Italian language.[4] He was also the first king to formally outlaw trial by ordeal, which had come to be viewed as superstitious.[5]”

    I recall seeing Frederick’s porphyry sarcophagus in the Cathedral of Palermo (with its many Arab-inspired motifs). The sarcophagus still sent forth some kind of power, some kind of brilliance.

    1. DJG, Reality Czar

      It also seems to me that one of the reasons for the survival of the sonnet is that many (all?) cultures have a form of poetry that heightens word choice and language–and compresses the use of language–so as to evoke the surprising, the sublime, and the insightful. I believe that in Persian poetry, the ghazal serves a similar function. I’m better acquainted with Japanese poetry and the use of the haiku and the tanka and how each of these forms stresses artistry, lack of straining for effect, naturalness, rhythm use of words–to poke through the veil into insight.

      And the oracle at Delphi originally delivered prophesies in verse: As Plutarch notes, when the oracle went to prose, the prophesies declined. It concerned him as a priest of Delphi, and also as someone particularly attuned to the human and the divine.

  22. zagonostra

    >CV19 Congressional investigation

    I heard on a podcast but did not catch the link/reference the other day to a story that the person who is conducting how CV19 was allowed to happen was also in charge of the 9/11 Commission. I did not see a reference in NC but I may have missed it. If this is true then it’s quite interesting on a number of levels.

    1. Jason

      Philip Zelikow? He was executive director of the 9/11 commission that co-chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton – and others – said was “set up to fail.” Max Cleland used the term “cover-up” in his resignation from the commission.

      Both Zelikow and Kean seem to be involved with covid, with Zelikow again in what appears to be the more powerful position:

      On Tuesday, the University of Virginia announced that its Miller Center for Public Affairs will serve as a base for a COVID Commission Planning Group, led by UVA professor Philip Zelikow, the former executive director of the 9/11 Commission.

      The nonpartisan group includes more than two dozen virologists, public health experts, clinicians and former officials, backed by four of America’s leading charitable foundations: Schmidt Futures, the Skoll Foundation, The Rockefeller Foundation and Stand Together. The Miller Center will also work with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security at the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Organizers hope the work will feed into a future National COVID Commission, set up either by the White House or Congress, or by an independent organization.

      The bolded part is a nutshell encapsulation of how these things work. It’s laughable that we the public should take anything – certainly any definitive conclusions – that come out of these elite structurings at face value. They can obviously be parsed for any useful information

      1. Maritimer

        “Philip Zelikow? He was executive director of the 9/11 commission that co-chairs Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton – and others – said was “set up to fail.” Max Cleland used the term “cover-up” in his resignation from the commission.”
        Funny how anyone who has questions about 9/11 is automatically disparaged as a “conspiracy theorist” yet the evidence of conspiracy as you state is so obvious.

        The fact and truth is that the most critical event in the last fifty years in the US has never been properly investigated not will it ever be. Food for thought under the present circumstances.

  23. Jeff W

    George W. Bush Can’t Paint His Way Out of Hell New York Magazine (Re Silc). He doesn’t need to. He gave Michelle candy.

    If there’s some meta-meaning to the fact that the two links go to the same NYMag article, I haven’t (yet) been able to figure it out.

    And I, for one, have always been curious as to exactly what candy George Bush gave to Michelle Obama—which is why I was hoping the link went elsewhere since the NYMag piece doesn’t even mention the candy. Is anyone else? (It just makes the moment even that much more meaningless and trivial if we know it was, say, a couple of wintergreen-flavored Tic Tacs.)

      1. Jeff W

        Ah! Thank you! I’m always (perhaps too) willing to attribute some subtle and sophisticated meaning to your actions, rather than assuming mere error.

        And I got my answer—Altoids! They have a bit more cachet than Tic Tacs, with their functional tin box, and they’ve been around almost 190 years longer. (Michelle Obama said the ones President Bush gave her were old but probably not that old.)

        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          “Then, as his planet killed him, it occurred to Kynes that his father and all the other scientists were wrong, that the most persistent principles of the universe were accident and error.” –Frank Herbert, Dune.

        2. flora

          And I got my answer—Altoids! They have a bit more cachet than Tic Tacs,….

          Altoid has Better packaging. Metal tins. Metal tins are good for other uses like a bicyclists’s repair tools or patch kits, among other things, and a hikers’ safety kit, etc, imo. / :)

          1. ambrit

            Those tins, not just Altoids, but other “mints” and cough drops, were perfect for storing the ‘game pieces’ for table top map games, especially war games where hundreds of ‘units’ could be engaged at any one time.
            I had a collection of those tins with my S&T games.

          2. Jeff W

            Yes, exactly. Altoids tins have an almost cult-like following.

            And, like ambrit says, lots of those tins work nicely for all sorts of uses. I have a few Eclipse mint tins—they shut nicely with a satisfying snap—lying around for paper clips and rubber bands plus one truly exotic—and no doubt priceless—tin for I Tronchetti di Don Tomaso – Zagarese pura liquirizia Calabrese (Italian licorice pieces)—I don’t think they even make those tins anymore!—where I stash a USB stick or two.

          3. The Rev Kev

            Those tins are handy. When I was traveling by backpack, I had one that I used as a complete survival kit while the other one contained what amounted to a shaving kit with mini-soap, cut down tooth-brush, etc.

  24. chris

    Sharing this because it touches on a number of issues discussed here lately: aerosols, emissions, indoor air quality, energy efficiency, etc.

    This is the Aerobarrier system. It’s aerosolized latex caulk used for sealing houses from the inside out.

    Really not sure what to think about it given the number of angles here. What does it do to the environment to disperse latex this way? How long does it take to clear the house so that it’s safe for workers to breathe without a respirator? Do we want to increase house tightness now that we’ve found how important ACH is for diseases like Covid? How would this fit into a passive house design strategy if it forces us to really control air flow into and out of a home? And on the positive side, I can see this being rolled out nationwide to help sell up leaky houses with a relative minimum of effort – what a great benefit that might be!

  25. chris

    Also wanted to share this link for similar reasons. One of the things we might see coming from Biden’s big infrastructure push is better utilization of off peak energy to help facilitate required cooling loads. The Icebear system and the Icecub minisplit are interesting ways to take advantage of that.

    1. ambrit

      That would be useful. Even our ‘out of the way’ half horse town now has “peak” and “off peak” electricity pricing.

  26. Roger

    Re: “US electricity emissions are halfway to zero”. Yet another lying by omission bullshit optimistic story, by ignoring the methane emissions of natural gas exploration, transport and utilization. If we accurately take these into account, natural gas is just as bad, if not worse than coal. The authors have to know this given all of the research and articles on this, so this is a seriously truth and ethics challenged story. Last year, methane emissions soared due to all the improperly capped closed-down wells.

    Same as for Biden’s “50%” target, which is just pure discourse management bullshit – which of course was being lauded by the soft-denial (unwarranted optimism, playing down negatives etc.) crowd of mainstream greens. Just watch the emissions explode once the Western economies get going again.

    1. chris

      Also not covered in that analysis is that we use a lot of the energy we generate for BS applications. I wonder if we’ll apply any kind of Pigovian tax on crypto miners for instance?

      If we were getting all those emissions to run hospitals or to make sure people had clean water, that would be one thing. But we’re creating all this waste with a manufacturing base that has shriveled from what it used to be. We’re getting all these CO2 emissions from people running the AC constantly, using a brigade of electric smart devices in the kitchen, putting flat screens in multiple rooms of there house, etc. I’d offer that’s a poor reason to push us further down the path to global crisis during the Anthropocene.

      1. skippy

        Pigovian tax … can you hear the cries of ***Violence*** from the future already …

        Although the same people that scream over that tax are quite OK with a marginal tax leaved at the consumer/end user broad base, rather than those that create the externalities at onset due to its small base/political leverage.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      Are those uncapped or ill-capped wells gas wells? Or oil wells? Or some of both?
      ( The answer to those would be to force proper capping of the wells).

      How much of the methane is burned to make electricity? As against how much of the methane is used to make Haber-Bosch ammonia?

      1. ambrit

        I do remember reading recently (here perhaps,) that fracking based oil and gas companies are abandoning wells as their financial situations collapse, for good. So, in answer to your basic question, we need a Federal Government run entity, ‘paid for’ (TM) by a tax on oil and gas extraction, that can swoop in and properly cap unused oil and gas wells.
        Then there is gas flaring at the well head.
        On methane seeps, hah, I’d pay to see the ‘fireworks’ if and when the methane seeps from the Artic and Sub-Artic regions were all ignited at once. It’d probably blow enough icy material into orbit to create a pretty Saturn style ring around the Earth. I did read that the Rings of Saturn were mainly composed of ices.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      I notice that “volt” newsletter has a comments section. I wonder how the “volt” people would respond if a comment appeared raising that methane emissions question.

      1. barefoot charley

        If you unpack the comments, methane is repeatedly discussed. They say gross estimates are meaningless because there are so many thousands of wells in different states, and it’s opaque whether those guesstimates were included in the pollution numbers.

  27. allan

    Court packing is out, board packing is in:

    Leon Black leaves mark on Apollo with new directors with ties to him
    [NY Post]

    Leon Black may have maneuvered to enhance his clout on the board of Apollo Global Management
    ahead of a surprise Jan. 25 announcement that he was stepping down as CEO amid controversy over his ties to Jeffrey Epstein, The Post has learned.

    In a series of moves that are only now being questioned by some within the company, according to sources close to the situation, Black on Jan. 22 presented a plan to increase the size of Apollo’s board
    from seven to 13, including four new directors whose appointments were to be effective March 1.

    In addition to Apollo co-presidents Scott Kleinman and Jim Zelter, the company also added to the board independent directors Siddhartha Mukherjee and Pam Joyner.

    But Mukherjee, a world-renowned physician and scientist, has ties to Black through his artist wife Sarah Sze, according to sources and public documents reviewed by The Post. Likewise, Joyner has a documented history with Black stretching back nearly two decades, including as fellow trustees of their alma mater, Dartmouth College. …

    … sources say Mukherjee and Joyner were nominated and approved over a tumultuous three-day period without any interviews and that their ties to Black weren’t made clear to the board. …

    But a BIPOC twofer, so it’s all good.

  28. lobelia

    Bleakly ‘amusing,’ 04/24/21 By Associated Press ‘It’s the biggest thing in the history of the internet’: Pentagon quietly transfers 175 million internet addresses worth $4BILLION to mysterious firm at shared workspace in Florida
    • Transfer of idle DoD IP addresses took place minutes before Trump left office
    • Huge swathe of 175 million addresses accounts for 4% of the entire internet
    • They are now under the control of mysterious Global Resource Systems LLC
    • Company’s address is listed in a co-working space above a bank in Florida
    • Reporter who visited the address found no representative and was told to leave
    • Now Pentagon says it is running a ‘pilot’ to ‘identify potential vulnerabilities’

    Incorporated in Delaware and registered by a Beverly Hills lawyer, Global Resource Systems LLC now manages more internet space than China Telecom, AT&T or Comcast.

    Also, always ‘amusing’ to find that the UK Daily Mail almost always picks up, or writes about, US (and California related) headlines that rarely see much (if any) of the horizon in the US Press. Guess I’ll wait for them to crack this nut: have Larry Ellison; Bill Gates; Tim Cook; Jeff Bezos; Peter Thiel; Sergey Brin; Larry Page; Eric Schmidt; Mark Zuckerberg; and Jack Dorsey been fully informed of the big Pentagon/Global Resource Systems LLC internet mystery, so they can help Protect™ it? Superhero Kamala could do it, pretty sure they’re all in her emergency Silicon Valley/Seattle contacts list.

    gotta run

    1. Jason

      Come on lobelia, everything’s on the up and up:

      Incorporated in Delaware and registered by a Beverly Hills lawyer

      See, it’s as American as apple pie. Just track down “Ray Saulino” and ask him.

      gotta run

  29. drumlin woodchuckles

    We can counter house tightness with air-to-air heat-exchanging, like they do in Scandinavia and Hokkaido.;_ylt=A0geKeU13YVg4sIAnolXNyoA;_ylu=Y29sbwNiZjEEcG9zAzEEdnRpZANBMDYxNV8xBHNlYwNzYw–?p=air+to+air+heat+exchanger+images&fr=sfp

    About “aerobarrier” . . . . why not spray it on the almost-outside of the house, just before the final siding or ornamental brick or whatever goes on? That way, it would not be inside the house exhaling its vapors into the house. ( Though air-to-air heat exchanging could mitigate that danger anyway).

    But and also, the whole inside of the house would be able to take heat from the indoor air or give heat back to it, functioning as a huge thermal mass temperature-evening thermal-flywheel.

    1. chris

      I’m not worried too much about long term vapors inside the house because the particles of latex being aersolized are heavy. I’m more worried about rapid turn around in construction schedules and workers jumping back into a house to keep to a timeline. They’d potentially be breathing it all in or getting it in their eyes and that can’t be good for them. The video showed people walking around after 15 minutes of letting it air out…was that OK? Should it have been longer? I don’t know.

      Regarding the choice of surface application I’m not sure that could work on the outside unless you have a very powerful vacuum relative to the rest of the environment on the interior of the house. The way they apply it is to use a house blower for a typical ACH50 test and driver the caulk into all the holes in the building envelope. So, assuming that you could suck the stuff into the holes from the outside to the inside, the next issue would be you’d use more material because of the larger surface area you need to cover. But I certainly didn’t invent the stuff and I have yet to use it on a project so maybe the people behind it have a way to use it from the outside in?

      We have air to air systems in the US. I’m not sure what kind of market share they have. Heat pumps are becoming more and more popular in general so maybe they’ll catch on for domestic purposes if they’re not already growing.

      Regarding energy storage, that’s why I thought the Icebear was cool. It’s an ice battery you make using off peak power that they say can cut cooling costs by 95%.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Thank you for replying with some things to really think about.

        About the aerosolized latex particles . . . . if they are initially aerosolised with nasty organic cancer gas or cancer solvent while inside the pressure tank and just coming out, that gas or solvent would be the source of worries for sure. About latex particles I just don’t know. Of course some people are latex-allergic. How would they respond to latex particles in the air?

        I wonder if it would be worthwhile inventing a powerful enough vacuum that this latex aerosol could indeed be sprayed on the nearly-outside of the house in order to be sucked a little deeper in to fill all the micro-holes in the nearly-outside. You would have to use more, but the trade-off, maybe even a trade-up, is that you get all the house-structure-material deeper-inside than the latex layer . . . able to exchange heat with the air inside the house. The thermal mass of the house could then be a thermal flywheel, somewhat on the principle of thick adobe, though not so thick and heavy and temperature-fluctuation buffering.

        I have read of huge air-to-air systems for big and great big buildings here in the US. But I have heard/read nothing of single house sized air to air heat exchangers from Scandinavia and/or Hokkaido being available to individual family homedwellers here. But if such things were available here, then houses here could be super-tight otherwise, and yet still get abundant air going in-out through the heat exchanger, capturing most of the heat and keeping it where you want it to be.

        If such technologies became retro-widespread in US housing, perhaps people could bring themselves to ” overcool” their house at night when air conditioners could dump heat into the cooler night sky more efficiently than they can dump heat into the hot daylight sky. That could allow for even more heat to be sucked out of the house and its physical mass all night, when electricity is cheaper. And then the house could keep itself cool through stored chill all through the next sunlit day for no electricity at all.

        And I wonder if fitting ice bear into such a concept would make for even more biggerer energy savings than otherwise and before.

        1. chris

          Yeah, I can’t imagine it would be fun to have a latex allergy and breath in latex.

          Here’s a USDA primer on air to air systems.

          I seem to recall all of the major manufacturers make air to air systems for residential applications. I’m not sure all jurisdictions know how to permit and approve them though. There are numerous fresh air strategies people use when designing HVAC. I see when those things go wrong a lot, but the codes and standards we have are very good. We don’t have as many problems as you’d think. Maintenance really is the concern.

          I’m not sure how many houses could really make use of a dedicated strategy like you refer to for thermal mass and seasonal timing of when you’re cooling and heating. Most people don’t know that much about their house or their habits to really understand what they could do. I keep thinking this would be a good subject for citizen science and federal projects to help citizens, but oh well.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Well, it would be a good project for citizen science. It might be years before Federal Projects emerge to catch up.

            I used to do a little bit of anecdata collection inside my own little dwelling unit. When I first moved in it was almost a live-in thermos for heat retention. Insulation has degraded and settled enough that it is now a live-in colander for heat retention. There are rumors of plans to re-insulate the one-bedroom units if the financing becomes right.

            If they ever do re-insulate us, then I will begin running little home dwelling-unit experiments to see how this can be made to work inside my own dwelling unit.

            Till then , I just live in reasonably conservy ways. On this last utility bill, for example, my NatGas use was 30 cubic feet per day. My electricity use was 2.2 kilowatt-hours per day. That’s for one person living inside a 640 square foot dwelling unit.

          2. drumlin woodchuckles

            And I could imagine an ” ice bear ” concept being used to freeze those little ” freeze-its” and “chill-packs” and all the other names they have at night.

            And then put the frozen freeze-packs into the fridge the next day to keep the fridge cool with less active power use by just using the night-time-made chill.

        2. Copeland

          I built two houses in Minnesota, in 1999 and 2004. An air-to-air heat exchanger was required by code, for both.

          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Good. Then they are known about in far northern America.

            Were those two air-to-air heat exchangers made in America or Canada? Or were they made in Scandinavia or Hokkaido and then imported here?

            If they were, that is a case where trade is sometimes necessary if we want to have certain nice things.

  30. drumlin woodchuckles

    I was listening to radio a few nights ago. I heard about how the Prime Minister ( or whatever) of Singapore was openly lecturing the Myanmarese protesters to accept Coup Rule and support ASEAN efforts to negotiate with the Tatmadaws about “moderating” some of the Coup Rule methods and doing some “power sharing”.

    So ASEAN was never concerned with anything but saving its members’ investments in Myanmar. And ASEAN will never be concerned with anything else but investments.

    I wondered if any Myanmarese protesters or protester-adjacent Myanmarese heard about the Singaporean Leader’s advice to them. I wonder if it made them vengeful and filled their hearts with hate.
    I wondered if Singaporean investments will be among the first to be burned down or blown up if the Myanmarese think they have no other choice left but to turn Myanmar into a “bare naked rock covered with ashes” for the Tatmadaws to rule over and gain zero money from ever again.

    ( Though I suspect the Myanmarese Coup-rejectors would much prefer to exterminate the Tatmadaws from physical existence starting with the leaders and working their way down every next rank down until the lowest ranks finally give up or joing the Myanmarese resistors in catching and exterminating all the ranks above them).

  31. lobelia

    Dear Jason, you rascal ‘from above.’

    Sends a big hug ‘up’ your way and hopes all is okay with you, and yours.

    gotta run (thank you for that smile, sweetie)

    1. Jason

      You better hold me tight and don’t let go, lobelia. Hold me tight and don’t let go.

      I hope all is well with you, and yours, too :)

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, that happened in Typhoid MAGA Trumpistan. Would such a thing happen or be planned in Bidenoidal Cautioustan?

      If it would, and if it does, then the stupidity is all-American.

      If it would only happen in Trumpistan, and if it happens again and again and again, but only in Trumpistan; then the stupidity may be said to reside only in Trumpistan.

      Cautioustani Americans would be advised to avoid visiting the Trumpistani American areas for the time being.

      1. skippy

        Having watched some of show I can report the emotion in the room was like they had just won a War and celebrating.

  32. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is an item about a racist hate crime against an Asiamerican person. It is not the first. The other interesting not-the-first about it is that the alleged perpetrator is allegedly Black. ( Being very legalistically careful here. )

    One wonders how many of the hate crimes against Asiamericans are perpetrated by Black racist hate criminals. One indication I have that it is quite a few is that I have already read left wing pro-Black hasbarists explaining about how ” the Devil made them do it. The White Man made them do it. The White Devil made them do it.”

    Here is the link.

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