Links 4/26/2021

At Home among the Birds: An Interview with Jonathan Meiburg Paris Review

Credit Suisse shareholders seek removal of risk chief after twin scandals FT

Growth, coal and carbon emissions: economic overheating and climate change (PDF) Bank of International Settlements

State-Supported “Clean Energy” Loans Are Putting Borrowers At Risk of Losing Their Homes ProPublica

Minnesota gasps at the financial damage it faces from the Texas freeze WaPo (Re Silc).

Study finds ride-sharing intensifies urban road congestion MIT News

Here’s our full coverage of the historic 2021 Oscars Los Angeles Timesd

Malaria vaccine from Oxford covid-19 team is most effective ever made New Scientist


Positive impact of oral hydroxychloroquine and povidone-iodine throat spray for COVID-19 prophylaxis: an open-label randomized trial (pre-proof) (PDF) International Journal of Infectious Diseases. n=3000. The study was done in a closed, crowded, close-contact worker dormitory setting in Singapore at the height of the outbreak last year. From the South China Morning Post’s summary:

The following were the infection rates for trialled medications:

  • Vitamin C: 70 per cent infected (or 433 out of 619 participants)
  • Hydroxychloroquine: 49 per cent infected (or 212 out of 432)
  • Throat spray: 46 per cent infected (or 338 out of 735)
  • Ivermectin: 64 per cent infected (398 out of 617)
  • Vitamin C and zinc: 47 per cent (or 300 out of 634)

[Raymond Seet, the study’s lead author] noted there was a “significant absolute risk reduction” of over 20 per cent for those who took hydroxychloroquine and throat spray.

The return of the repressed….

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NIH Scientist Who Developed Key Vaccine Technology Says Patent Gives US Leverage Over Big Pharma Common Dreams

Statement by Moderna on Intellectual Property Matters during the COVID-19 Pandemic (press release) Moderna. From October 2020.

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Guidance for Operating Youth and Summer Camps During COVID-19 CDC. “COVID-19 is mostly spread through close contact by respiratory droplets released when people talk, sing, breathe, sneeze, or cough.” “Respiratory droplets” is political language designed to protect the droplet paradigm and its adherents. Droplets fall (like cannonballs or loogies). Aerosols float (like cigarette smoke). Because aerosols float to fill closed spaces, we get superspreader events, where many in that space are infected. The droplet model cannot give an account of superspreading, because the loogies fall within a radius and don’t fill the room. How on earth can we expect to stop a pandemic if we don’t understand how the infection is transmitted? Comedian Fran Liebowitz understands this, as I linked yesterday. Why can’t the comedians at the CDC?

COVID vaccines and kids: five questions as trials begin Nature

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EU chief says vaccinated US tourists to be able to visit Agence France Pressed

When It Comes to a Travel Restart All Vaccines Are Not Equal Bloomberg

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Why the Panic Over Israeli Study on Infections After Vax? MedPage Today

The Forever Maskers New York Magazine

You Pfizer, Me Moderna: Vaccine Recipients Declare Loyalty NYT. Commentary:

“Tribe,” my Sweet Aunt Fanny.

Tribe and state in Iran and Afghanistan: an Update étude rurales. From the Abstract: “Tribalism has its faults and limitations, but its provision of social security and its long-term survival value should recommend it as no anachronism’ in the contemporary world.”


World Health Organization to decide whether to approve Chinese Covid-19 vaccines for global use South China Morning Post

Air pollution: Asia’s deadliest public health crisis isn’t COVID Nikkei Asian Review


Myanmar junta chief meets UN special envoy in Jakarta Asian Nikkei Review. NUG responds to the ASEAN summit:

Myanmar activists call for new non-cooperation campaign Straits Times. Still marching:

All 53 on board sunken Indonesian submarine confirmed dead, more debris found: Military chief Channel News Asia

A Muslim influencer complained about a loud mosque, and it went as well as anybody could’ve hoped Coconuts


US assures export of raw materials to India for Covid vaccines as Doval speaks to Sullivan The Print. Why not our hoard of AZ?

EXCLUSIVE India’s federal government won’t import vaccines, leaving it to states -sources Reuters

Opinion: India’s coronavirus surge could collapse its health system. The U.S. can help. Ashish K. Jha, WaPo. Commentary:

Oxygen shortage | Seize property of those spreading rumours: Yogi Adityanath The Hindu

Election Commission Should Be Charged With Murder for Allowing Rallies: Madras HC The Wire

India’s Covid Crisis Threatens a Global Oil Recovery Bloomberg


Boris Johnson: ‘Let the bodies pile high in their thousands’. PM’s incendiary remark during fight over lockdowns is latest claim in No10 drama – amid spectacular row with Cummings Daily Mail but COVID-19: Minister denies Boris Johnson made ‘let the bodies pile high’ comment – and calls it ‘a comedy chapter in gossip stories‘ Sky News. Pass the popcorn.

‘He must make a public statement’ – Starmer’s watery response to revelation Johnson wanted ‘bodies piled high’ rather than lock down again Skwawkbox

PASS & NO Boris Johnson ‘shelves Covid passports plans for pubs’ after Tory backlash & looks to reopen foreign travel & nightclubs The Sun

Bypassing the Road Block Craig Murray

Czech leader: 2014 blast at ammunition dump may have been an accident The Hill. Plot twist!

IHRA: The Politics of a Definition Free Speech on Israel


At least three killed as Iranian fuel tanker attacked off Syria Guardian

Russian policy toward Syria: The perils of success The Hill

New Cold War

How Russia Will Retaliate Against the West The National Interest

Book Review: Weak Strongman Irrussianality

People in Ontario are baffled that Doug Ford still uses a BlackBerry Classic from 2014 BlogTO. “The premier is so accustomed to the vintage 2014 smartphone that he has a stack of them and gets refurbished models from a Mississauga electronics ship for about $150 a pop.” Burners? Really?

Biden Administration

More action, less talk, distinguish Biden’s 100-day sprint AP

Biden’s care economy Ryan Grim, Bad News. Still waiting on a key antitrust appointment.

The Price of Nostalgia Foreign Affairs (Re Silc).

The big Pentagon internet mystery now partially solved AP

Health Care

Persistency in High-Cost Health Care Claims: “It’s Where the Spending Is, Stupid” EBRI (UserFriendly). From 2019, relevant to the debate about dropping the age of Medicare eligibility.

Groves of Academe

Break Up the Ivy League Cartel BIG

The Crushing Contradictions of the American University Chronicle of Higher Education

Black Injustice Tipping Point

American Fugitive Current Affairs

The Men Who Turned Slavery Into Big Business The Atlantic

Cash-strapped Haiti has an image problem. The government is spending thousands to fix it Miami Herald (timotheus).

UNESCO honor for ancient earthworks hits snag Indian Country

Class Warfare

How Banks Profited Off The Pandemic David Sirota, The Daily Poster

Paid in Full Real Life. “The emerging dream of an internet where every interaction is a financial transaction.” And every transaction has a rent.

The idea the state has been shrinking for 40 years is a myth FT

The road from Rome Aeon

Perseverance and Ingenuity:

Ingenuity exits stage right but reappears after a wait.

Antidote du jour (via):

Bonus antidote:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

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


        1. Aumua

          I don’t think it’s a good idea to start using emotes too much in posts here, but I’m curious how you did that?

      1. JTMcPhee

        As to fight for, how about “I’m the only thing standing between you oligarchs and the pitchforks”? Lots more “fight” where that sort came from.

        1. Alfred

          I admit that I have become just as cynical as I believe Mr. O always was. That statement struck me more as,”Hey, I’m your pal here, let’s work this out without either of us getting hurt.” Yes, Jamie Dimon, such a fine human being….

    1. jrkrideau

      A remark a blogger made struck home a while ago. “The only business he was successful in was drug distribution and now he’s failing at that” [paraphrase].

    2. Maritimer

      More on Doug Ford:
      “It was just a week ago that Ontario’s [Premier Doug Ford’s] provincial cabinet deployed the apparatus of the totalitarian state, authorizing the police to stop citizens at any time outside of their home. It wasn’t long before police forces across the province saw massive anti-racist protests in the offing and declined the provincial offer to stalk the citizenry.”

      That, folks, from a Canadian MSM national long-established conservative newspaper.
      Best recent quote on this used Ford: “Elect a Clown and you’re gonna have a Circus.” Woe, not only Ontario, but Canada where lots of similar pols strut the stage.

  1. doriantatem

    “World Health Organization to decide whether to approve Chinese Covid-19 vaccines for global use” South China Morning Post

    “The point is that people should be vaccinated to achieve the best possible outcome with whatever is available, as quickly as it is available and with the most pragmatic choice that achieves the highest coverage,” he said.
    “If it works and it’s approved by the WHO, that’s a big green light.”

    Reporting from the Dominican Republic, where the overwhelming majority of us who have been vaccinated have done so with the Sinovac one. This is the frame of thought of the government. Covax has been a major disaster for “developing” countries, and all the major pharma-houses have been disappointing as well.

    To wit, the dominican government signed an agreement to get around 1 million doses of the Astrazeneca one, which was scheduled to arrive back in January…To this day there hasn’t been a single delivery from that. Covax “donated” 80 thousand doses back at the beginning of the year (slim pickings, I know…) and we haven’t heard from them since.

    The chinese vaccines may or may not be equally effective but, for many countries like ours, they’re the only real option we have so far. Better a 50-80% efficacy, than nothing at all, in my view. The WHO is dragging its feet on so many things lately, I don’t know how it will ever recover from this hit in credibility.

    1. madarka

      Another dominican here. The donation you mention was from the Indian Government, and it was 90 thousand doses of Covishield. From COVAX nothing has been received yet, nor AZ or Pfizer. Because of that the Dominican government has actually contracted around 8 million doses from Sinovac as well, but even those are facing slow deliveries: last week’s delivery was only 500 thousand doses instead of the 1 million scheduled for delivery at the end of march.

    2. Yves Smith

      You are falling for and repeating misleading propaganda about Sinovac. It is 84% effective against serious cases and has a 100% track record of preventing death.

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

      That is comparable to Pfizer and Moderna levels on serious cases. Neither company tracked the results on mild cases, so the Sinovac testing and reporting looks to be more comprehensive.

  2. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Further to the link about slave traders, over the past year, in parallel to the protests arising from the death of George Floyd, many Wikipedia entries have been ‘cleaned’ so that the descendants and fortunes are not easily identified. For example, a descendant of Confederate envoy Slidell married a grandson of Winston Churchill, also called Winston Churchill. The British Goodhart academics and descendants of the Lehman family are another with fortunes derived from slavery.

    Another example, but a rand lord or lady in this case, is former BBC presenter Esther Rantzen, a great niece and heiress to Barney Barnato.

    1. Estuary

      To whitewashing and greenwashing, add Wikiwashing.

      The average person will never know how so many of the great and good had ancestors made wealthy and eventually respectable by slavery and horrible mistreatment of their subjects, servants and serfs. There are too many reputations reliant on burying the facts about the perverse and ghastly value chain of procurement, handling, transportation, sale, ownership, murder and dispersion.

      1. Kay

        Kamala Harris is the descendant of an Irishman who owned a slave plantation
        in Jamaica, according to her father Donald Harris, a Stanford University economics professor, revealed in 2018.

        “My roots go back, within my lifetime, to my paternal grandmother Miss Chrishy (née Christiana Brown, descendant of Hamilton Brown who is on record as plantation and slave
        owner and founder of Brown’s Town),” he wrote in a post for Jamaica Online. Page 1


        CONTRIBUTED by Jeanne A. Smith, MD
        The National Archives in London, (also known as the Public Record Office), is the repository for numerous records concerning the West Indies, and Jamaica in particular. These records include wills, manumissions, correspondence, proclamations, slave registers and other transactions. I had the opportunity recently to visit the archives and review a small portion of the myriad records which they have. Slave registers (T71 series)

        See page 8

    2. Carolinian

      Well we can despise their fortunes–I’m all for it–but are they bad people for something their ancestors did 200 years ago? It’s the felt need to Wikiwash that is ridiculous. Surely it’s better to learn from history than to moralize about it.

      I’d say last night’s Oscars an example of rich folk need to prove that “we’re really and truly good people despite any evidence to the contrary.” We live in an age obsessed with PR.

      1. Colonel Smithers

        Thank you.

        No they are not necessarily, but the trio mentioned are poster descendants for imperialism and neo liberalism, so the context is helpful.

        Others remain heirs to firms engaged in environmental destruction, exploitation of labour etc. and use their influence behind the scenes to further their interests.

        1. Carolinian

          I was just making a point. Get what you are saying–that in England there are aristocrats who moralize in the opposite direction about their supposedly distinguished ancestors. We have less of that here. There once was an organization called Daughters of the Revolution to boast about ancestry. I’m not sure it is still around.


    Czech reader here.

    Ad Czech leader: 2014 blast at ammunition dump may have been an accident:

    would not recommend taking this seriously at all, neither is it much of a plot twist. Zeman is an old, bitter, pretty pro-Russian contrarian. he waited over a week to comment on the story at all (which is quite shocking in itself) and he is just sowing doubt.

    1. The Rev Kev

      If you are reading the local news, any idea why it took three years to say that the suspects photographed in your country were the same as the suspects that were photographed in Salisbury when Sergei and Yulia Skripal were poisoned? You think that the Czech authorities would have been jumping up and down saying ‘We know them! We know them!’

      1. jrkrideau

        Or were smart enough to know just how stupid this sounds until forced to tell this not-very-believable tale??

        Did the suspects use Novachok to blow up the base?

        1. Randy G

          jrkrideau — Apparently Novachok works better as an explosive than a poison! Good point.

          I grew up on Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons, and often got warnings about the sinister Russians, Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale as a child.

          Turns out the cartoons were far more credible than MSNBC, the BBC or our sycophants in the NATO vassal states. In fiction, even cartoons, you have to make sense: in propaganda, apparently, not so much.

    2. pjay

      Are you recommending we not take Zeman seriously, or the story itself? Because when I read this line:

      “Zemin noted… that there was no evidence that the spies infiltrated the Vrbetice facility, but said they did not rule out that they did enter the area…”

      … I thought: Hmm. That reasoning sounds familiar. No evidence, but we *cannot rule out* the Russians did it. So…

      Very familiar indeed.

      1. vlade

        Zeman is a court-proven liar (he, well, his office, he can’t be sued directly, is still refusing to apologise for lies years after a stretch of courts ordered it), and he’s surrounded by proven frauds and thiefs (and if you ask how come they are not in jail then, I’ll point you towards the many bankers and pols who happily stole public money w/o ending in jail. Political influence.).

        Basically, whatever Zeman says you can safely ignore, as while even a broken clock may be right twice a day, sifting for what he could be randomly right on is way too hard a task.

        On the story, there was no hard evidence released in public, although indirect evidence (i.e. the reacion of the current Czech govt, who never before dared to do anything like this – expelling enough diplomats to basically get your embassy shut down in response is not a step taken lightly) suggests that it’s entirely possible there is hard evidence available.

        I’m personally inclined to believe the story, but find it really weird that a) it broke now b) the Czech reaction was so strong from this particular government (which is probably most pro-Russian govt since 90s, while being at most lukewarm towards the EU/NATO).

        1. The Rev Kev

          It might be that the Russians blew his ammunition dump. Why? Possibly because of the sheer amount of NATO weapons and ammunition being funneled to the Jihadists in Syria so this might have been a warning. Or maybe some jacka*** simply lit a cigarette in the powder room. Who can tell? But what I am certain of is that the Czech government would not do this without NATO coordination as part of the Ukraine situation. As you can tell, I am not a believer in ‘coincidences’ like this.

        2. pjay

          You may be right about Zeman, but I find the story hard to take seriously for a similar reason. I believe the old ‘Boy Who Cried Wolf’ fable is relevant here. At this point you’d almost have to show me a video of Putin lighting the fuse for me to believe such a story. Even then you’d have to convince me the video wasn’t a “deep fake” by Western intelligence.

          It’s a bitch when trust is completely obliterated. But for me, the boy has cried “wolf” way too many times.

        3. Maxwell Johnston

          All politics is local and, knowing nothing about Czech politics, I accept what you say re Zeman et al. I suspect that the Russians did in fact blow up the warehouse. There was a link between the warehouse and a Bulgarian arms dealer who was apparently supplying Ukraine in 2014, so the motive is there. The Russians probably felt over-confident operating in one of their old Warsaw Pact stomping grounds (and the Czechs have been quite friendly with Russia up till now), so they presumably thought they would get away with it. Perhaps we shall see how things turn out.

          That said, I’m amazed that TPTB sat on this for almost 7 years. Makes me wonder what other intel tidbits are being held back by various parties on other themes (the demise of the Malaysian jet over Ukraine springs to mind, given the lack of hard intel divulged so far). I also wonder what other badness those two Russian fall guys are going to be blamed for going forward. Nice of them not to ever change their photos or “noms de plumes”. Downright sporting chaps.

        4. Kouros

          Why is it believable, when with this excuse the Czech state has eliminated Rosatom from competing for ugrading some nuclear plant (~ 5- 7 Billion USD) leaving only bankrupt US Westingouse as a serious contender in the race?

          1. vlade

            Either you’re knowingly lying, or can’t be bothered to check facts.

            a) the tender is NOT only Westinghouse. It is EDF, South Korea’s KHNP and Westinghouse. Of those, at least EDF is as serious, possibly more likely, contender than Westinghouse, for many reasons.

            b) Rosatom was seriously hampered way before this *), and was never a front-runner. EDF and Westinghouse were always front-runners.

            *) There are elections due in October. It is almost guaranteed that regardless of the current affair Russe, the new government, because it is very possibly not going to be the current government, would cancel the contract even if it had associated costs. Never mind that it’s a bad democratic form to sign contracts worth billions before elections you’re far from certain to win.

    3. km

      That may be, but the story itself (ZOMG! Russia!) and the timing are both too convenient to be a coincidence.

    4. km

      A more interesting question is why Zeman’s take on the ammunition dump would be published in The Hill.

      For instance, from the beginning, there were folks who pointed out that the ZOMG Assad Gassed His Own People ZOMG! story had more plot holes than Swiss cheese. Not only that, it required Assad to act in a manner that would be completely irrational and short-sighted to the point of self-destructive, even by the standards of a comic book supervillain.

      Something similar could be said in the runup to the War on Iraq.

      In each case, doubters were never allowed anywhere near respectable news outlets, lest the masses get the wrong narrative.

      So why is Zeman’s opinion acceptable for publication now?

    5. David

      Vlade (and anyone else from the region) will know much more than me about this incident, but there are a couple of generic points that are worth making about such stories.
      Politicians have a long and inglorious history of misunderstanding and misusing intelligence material, and causing havoc and scandals in the process. Intelligence agencies almost never deal in absolute truth, but in probabilities, which are strong enough to make decisions from, since decisions need to be taken, but wouldn’t stand up in a court of law, for example. So if you look at intelligence assessments which are in the public domain, you see they use words like “assess” or “judge” or “believe likely”. In some cases, as in the bounties-in-Afghanistan story the other week, agencies will use terms like “low” “moderate” or “high” confidence. So in this case, assuming that the blast was deliberate (which should be easy enough to prove), then I can imagine the Czech intelligence chief saying something like “well, we can’t be sure, but there’s this, this, and this indication, and there’s this and this supporting evidence, and taking the politics into account, then we think the most likely candidates are the Russians.” In any case, if it was deliberate, someone must have been responsible.
      But politicians seldom have patience with such qualifications, and want to make headlines.They typically rush into the public eye with statements which are probably true, but can’t be proved beyond a certain standard, and then they get embarrassed. In this case, though, I’m inclined to agree that such a strong response means that the information must have been pretty reliable: otherwise the government would be crazy.

      Secondly, such decisions are national affairs. Even close allies are reluctant to talk about such things, and, whatever it is, it won’t have been part of an international strategy.

      1. JTMcPhee

        Wow,, it all sounds so rational and trustworthy when you put it that way.

        “Decisions must be taken,” like the people behind the screen setting up the pretext for the Vietnam war (Gulf of Tonkin) or the war on Iraq (WMD), to produce the decided result.

        Politicians may lack patience and want to make headlines. But we have more than enough experience with the sainted “professionals” and their yellowcake and nerve gas who effectively write the press releases and headlines, wanting to keep wars that provide them with pipelines into stuff like opium and heroin business to fund the steady diet of chaos and overthrow of “unfriendly” (unwilling to “say Uncle” when tapped).

        Maybe you have experience in intelligence work so you are well tuned to the process of generating “assessments” and such, to the point that you are comfortable with a certain kind of proof that goes along with whatever the actual drivers and intentions of the proponents and assessors are. I, and I bet a lot of people, have had smoke blown in our eyes and up our butts so often that the “standard of proof” has to be calibrated a lot higher (than outright lies and deceptions, like WMD and Tonkin Bay and lots of others), when it comes to listening to what the “intelligence services” offer up. I’m sick of the “rough men” argument put forward by “rough men” who prove to be venal and self-serving and playing some “Smiley’s People” game that is no doubt a lot of fun for the participants, who do horrid stuff and tell “credible lies” and suffer no consequences unless they are stuck in the crack of a “limited hangout” or some such misfortune of the policies they impose by controlling the information input to the sacred decision-making process that supposedly lies safely in the hands of the politicians.

        I do like how that formulation lays the downsides for negative outcomes (dead people, bombed cities, broken national economies and destroyed democratic structures) on the errant politicians who “misuse” the “intelligence” that in so many instances has been crafted to lure them into jumping into the planned policy action. Of course there is a cozy relationship between “professionals” and “politicians” in this corruption of reality in service of other than the general welfare.

        I’d offer that people in “democracies” ought to have the benefit of the opportunity to weigh the “evidence” and “indications” and “suspicions” that our rulers have set it up to act on, in ways that are hardly good for people or the planet. “National affairs?” Have to keep the cards close to the vest, otherwise the mopes might find out how corrupt and dishonest the “professionals” often are. Not always, but hey, which professionals knew that a bunch of Saudi jihadis would fly jets into the World Trade Center buildings or the Pentagram?

        And because of a century and more of sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt as a means to drive public opinion, and patently bribing the media (Operation Mockingbird and the cultural Cold War) to manufacture consent for spook-preferred policies, and also getting caught lying in often huge and outrageous ways, the spooks and analysts have bought themselves a deserved ration of doubt in their “assessments” and “analyses” that have driven policies that have brought horror and death to millions.

        1. Norge

          Well said! Are you by any chance the Australian scholar who has written about the Australian intelligence agencies?

          1. JTMcPhee

            Sorry, just an old guy who as a young man, a Presbyterian Boy Scout, bought the “domino” and “Gulf of Tonkin” lies, enlisted in the Imperial army, went to war in Vietnam for a little over a year, and with a little help from Playboy, Cronkite, and Heller’s “Catch-23,” figured out the BS before coming home, then became a lawyer and learned how that “government of laws” really worked, then 12 years as a nurse getting to see the medical-industrial complex works, all while observing all the horrors and lies the security state and the Hallowed Three Branches of Government also operate on lies and bribes and disinformation. Nothing scholarly, just attention to all the details of lies and disaffections and Bernaysian bullshit that we “consumers” are drowned in.

            There’s slick people in that Deep State whose job it is to generate messaging, some “gentle answers to turn away wrath” with the appearance of “sweet reason,” as part of what a former CIA director said,” We will know our program of disinformation is complete when nothing the American public believes is true.”

            That follows the remark by that villain Churchill, about “truth being so precious that it must be guarded about by a phalanx of lies.” Or words to that effect. Any cynical Brits here might anecdotes or series of those lies being manufactured into consent by their imperial spooks and politicians.

        2. David

          I think it would be helpful for US readers to try for once to still the chant of CIAIRAQBADCIAIRAQBAD which tends to surface at such moments. We are not dealing with the US here, we are not dealing with the CIA here, we are not dealing with Iraq here, we are not, for that matter dealing with the Tonkin Bay incident or the cultural Cold War. We are dealing with a small European country, formerly the unwilling ally of a much larger one, confronted with the problem of how to respond to that country in a particular situation. We are not dealing with plans to deceive the public or push out propaganda or whatever.

          Czechoslovakia is a country I’ve been to a few times but don’t claim to know well. I defer to vlade and others who do, and I take what they say about the politics seriously. I know nothing about the Czech intelligence service and their relationship with the political power, and neither, I suspect, does anybody here. I know nothing about the information they hold, and neither does anybody here. All I can say is what anyone who’s ever worked in government would say: governments are presented with the need to make decisions all the time (here, what do we do about this information about the explosion?) on the basis of inadequate and often conflicting information. It’s true in any area (Covid, anyone?) but it’s especially true in the politico-military area because of the obvious sensitivities. Thus, governments all the time have to make decisions without having as much evidence as they would like. I think all that’s beyond dispute: there are libraries of books, tons of declassified documents and any number of retired government officials who’ll happily tell you all that for the price of a beer.
          It would be an interesting experiment to attempt a discussion such as this, about two countries distant from the US, without citing the US experience, implicitly or explicitly. Indeed, I’d recommend it.

          1. JTMcPhee

            No, you don’t get to constrain the discourse to one small country and your insistence on giving governments the benefit of the doubt. This incident is part of the entire Game of Risk! geopolitical idiocy that has built nuclear arsenals, dispatched jackals and spooks across the planet, filled the minds of the public with lies, lies and more lies in service of small and big interests that have to be kept opaque from the masses who pay the price in blood and treasure as the turns in the Game play out, killed millions, moved deadly drugs and black ops financing, set the stage for supranational corporations and dark finance to poison pretty much everything. This is not just a “US” experience — the US Empire’s rulers are playing a game of chicken with the other major nuclear-armed nations, ripping up any sensible order in the political machinery of the planet in favor of a grab for the brass ring of hegemony. You don’t get to win the argument about what’s happened in a Czech munitions depot by setting the scope of the discussion. And especially you don’t get to paper over the well-established behaviors of the actors in the Blob, the “deep state,” and the ruling class in this empire by insisting that those folks who overthrow elected governments and invade other countries and “impose sanctions” and embargoes that in other times would be seen as acts of war, casus belli, just have had to act on incomplete information “because OF COURSE we must all agree that decisions must be taken.” From the stuff that escapes from the dark operations of our and other governments, it’s clear that actions way too often precede the manufacturing of “evidence,” that the narratives and the “intelligence” is shaped to fit the desired policies that suit the Few in pursuit of their goal of dominance and ownership. Those libraries full of books and declassified documents (from the much larger volume of actual evidence that we mopes are not allowed to see except when some whistleblower takes them and dumps them in the public domain, which shrinks very day) make it very clear that your vanilla custard description of government “decisions-taking on not as much information as they would like” may in some cases be fair, but way more often is a reedy justification and attempted cover for a lot of very bad behavior.

            So recommend your limited and tightly framed experiment all you want. I hope most folks recognize an apologia and an attempt to gaslight for what it is, when they see it.

      2. pjay

        – (1) “…assuming that the blast was deliberate (which should be easy enough to prove)…”

        – My understanding is that this has been held to be an accident until recently. So what is the new evidence, and perhaps more importantly, where did it come from? The only information I can find on this comes from Voice of America (!), and alludes to a fake email sent to the company that was allegedly linked to the two Russians. Perhaps the Russians had a motive, given the target; perhaps they even did it. But there are certainly motives by the West, and by pro-Western elements in the Czech Republic (not least its intelligence forces – it’s a NATO country after all) to *lie* about this. Given the timing (and the somewhat ridiculous story itself, linked to the whole Bellingcat/Skripal farce), that would be my first guess.

        – (2) “Intelligence agencies almost never deal in absolute truth, but in probabilities, which are strong enough to make decisions from, since decisions need to be taken, but wouldn’t stand up in a court of law…”

        – True. Intelligence agencies also deal in *lies* — all the time. Sometimes they lie to justify actions by political leaders. Sometimes they lie *to* political leaders to influence the latter. Often they spread lies to influence public opinion. Again, we’re not talking about a “pro-Russian” country here that was suddenly “shocked” that Russia could do such a thing. This is a NATO country with pro-Western elements throughout its political and national security system. Which brings me to…

        – (3) “I’m inclined to agree that such a strong response means that the information must have been pretty reliable: otherwise the government would be crazy.”

        – Given the very obvious interests of a number of parties in driving a wedge between Russia and its European neighbors, is it really “crazy” to think that such a strong response could be based on *false* information?

        Of course I don’t know. Maybe Russia did do it. But given the entire body of “Russian threat” melodrama that has been produced over the last decade or so, I am surprise to see such credibility given to this story that suddenly popped up out of nowhere.

        1. JTMcPhee

          The ammo dump at the big base I was assigned to in Vietnam blew up in I think in November 1967. We were told that the “gooks” had done it, those sneaky “sappers” who crawled on their bellies under the jungle of barbed wire and guards surrounding the ammo dump, crawled under in broad daylight. Turns out it was just some stupid GI doing something foolish, which if one looks through the Youtube videos under the heading “military fails” one can find large numbers of. And then another one blew up when a Chinook helicopter crashed into it. I have photos of the latter explosion.

          Kind of hard to figure out what the cause of a munition dump blowup is, given that I don’t think even NCIS could parse through the rubble and nail down the cause. I would imagine. But I wonder what Occam’s Razor would counsel in this circumstance.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “EU chief says vaccinated US tourists to be able to visit”

    This is the third article that I have read about American tourists being able to visit Europe, including the New York Times, and in not one of them is there any consideration of what happens when these tourists get back. Do they go into two weeks quarantine? What if they catch a variant of Coronavirus that blows past their vaccinations like that Israeli study is indicating? It seems that some are desperate to do overseas travel again, no matter what the cost – to themsleves or to others.

    1. ChrisFromGeorgia

      Seems to me that while the EU is putting the almighty e-CON-omy over public health, this story might be a bit of a nothing-burger.

      Individual countries still have the final say on allowing foreigners including Americans in, and Greece and Croatia have already done so.

      Plus the calendar says it’s almost May, and most Americans have probably already given up on any fanciful notion of a “European vacation” and booked other destinations, regrettably including Mexico and parts of the Caribbean. Only the “YOLO” crowd is likely to take a last minute trip to Greece or Spain.

      It’s still disturbing to me though, and a huge own-goal in terms of mixed messaging. Recall that the US state department just issued a warning raising 80% of the world, including all of Europe I believe, to a level 4 “DO NOT TRAVEL” status.

    2. Nealser

      Yes I’m desperate to travel overseas. I haven’t seen my family for almost two years. Despite us being vaccinated I know there are risks. However risks of new virus variants is the new normal. We need to build the test and trace systems that work.

  5. allan

    Cyber Ninjas, hired by Arizona Senate to recount Maricopa County’s ballots, asks court to keep its procedures secret [AZ Central]

    Lawyers for Cyber Ninjas, the Florida-based company the Arizona Senate hired to lead a recount of Maricopa County’s 2.1 million general election ballots, are asking a judge to keep secret its procedures for the recount and shut out the public as well as the press from a hearing in which the documents might be discussed.

    Judge Christopher Coury asked the company on Friday to turn over its plans and procedures amid concerns about the security of the county’s ballots and voter privacy.

    But the company argued on Sunday that filing the documents in court publicly would compromise the security of its recount. And it argued that the records include protected trade secrets. …

    Fond memories of Geeks on Call wiping Scott Bloch’s hard drive.
    The past isn’t dead. It’s not even past.

    1. Rod

      Those are some beautiful bovines–all shiny coated and plump–and productive judging by the size of those udders.
      I love to witness animals expressing joy so obviously–and that pasture looks so green and inviting for a graze.

  6. Miami Mitch

    On the HCQ study:

    Vitamin C and zinc: 47 per cent (or 300 out of 634)

    I may be confused, but did zinc do just as well in this study?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      That stood out to me too, the raw figures look very similar. The abstract says its to do with statistical significance, but I don’t have time to read through the whole study go through the calculations.

      The study does look odd, especially the choice of Vitamin C as a baseline and seemingly no control.

      A year ago I would have trusted published peer reviewed papers unless there was a very good reason not to, but I’ve been growing increasingly cynical about so much of the science around Covid.

  7. voislav

    Hydroxychloroquine and povidone-iodine throat spray

    The study is very limited (600 – 700 subjects per cohort) and although the study was conducted in a dormitory, participants were separated by floors, so Vitamin C recipients were all housed on one floor, hydroxychloroquine on another, etc. Statistics are quite poor, even without going into the possible biological and environmental systematic effects. Results are only marginally significant, basically 20% with a 20% uncertainty. To quote:

    “Compared with vitamin C, significant absolute risk reductions (%, 98.75% confidence interval) were observed for oral hydroxychloroquine (21%, 2–42%) and povidone-iodine throat spray (24%, 7–39%) (Table 3). No statistically significant absolute risk reductions were observed with zinc/vitamin C combination (23%, –5 to +46%) and ivermectin (5%, –10 to +22%).”

    So I wouldn’t put too much stock into this, especially with what we now know about airborne transmission, observed differences could easily be due to differences in air circulation on different floors.

  8. Alfred

    “Sisters with Transistors” new documentary — NY Times

    “Technology is a tremendous liberator,” the composer Laurie Spiegel says in Rovner’s film. “It blows up power structures. Women were naturally drawn to electronic music. You didn’t have to be accepted by any of the male-dominated resources: the radio stations, the record companies, the concert-hall venues, the funding organizations.”

    But in the years since, pioneering women like Oram and Spiegel have largely been written out of the genre’s popular history, leading people to assume, erroneously, that electronic music in its many iterations is and has always been a boys’ club. In a time when significant gender imbalances persist behind studio consoles and in D.J. booths, Rovner’s film prompts a still-worthwhile question: What happened?

    1. JBird4049

      Just like with history everywhere and every when. If they did not fit the accepted narrative, they were ignored. It is amazing to find out just how many people of the wrong race, sex, or even just class are just erased by never having been put in the standard or approved texts. These people can be found, but modern historians have to really dig to do so.

      1. Alfred

        Later in the article, it was mentioned that when it became profit-driven is when the narrative was re-written.

  9. John Siman

    Wow, Sam Haselby’s essay “Break up the Ivy League Cartel” is filled with extra juicy informational nuggets on the contradictions of meritocracy, like this one: “In the mid 20th century, when Harvard accepted 80% of its applicants, its graduates voted Republican. Today Ivy league acceptance rates are in the single digits and its graduates, as well as 70% of people with graduate degrees, vote Democratic. This is why Thomas Piketty refers to the … ‘Brahmin left.’” But the Brahmin left is a preening pseudo-left, and woke, highly credentialed establishment Democrats, as Thomas Frank has shown us, are deeply anti-populist. We have arrived at a very dark dead-end at which the leaders who come out of our prestige universities despise both their fellow countrymen and the project of enlightenment to which they had supposedly been called.

    1. GramSci

      It was ever thus, even in the mid-20th century. When, during the Vietnam War, I asked Harvard Philosophy prof Roger’s Albritton how it was just that I enjoyed a student deferment, while my cousin in Wisconsin had been drafted and killed, he replied “Well, he was just a farmer; you will be a Harvard grad!” A shame I carry to this day.

      1. km

        It is rare that the elites come out and say what they think in such stark terms.

        Usually truths such as these are so delicate and in need of protection, that they must be swaddled in layer after layer of dense jargon and BS, lest they sicken upon contact with fresh air and sunshine.

        Seriously, listening to the wiretaps of Operation Varsity Blues, what impressed me was the amount of BS that everyone involved was engaged in, how everyone attempted to come up with and then affirmed facile, glib, lawyer-like justifications for what everyone in the scheme knew was fraud.

        But nobody came out and said “I am paying you to bribe this university to ensure that my ignorant offspring get in!

        1. JBird4049

          IIRC, during the Vietnam War, all my relatives did not need to be told that having m o n e y (or being connected) as the reason for getting those deferments. They really didn’t.

          Fortunately(?), they had either been in the reserves or been too injured in accidents to be drafted.
          As one said when leaving the camp after his tests, while on the bus, all he think of (stealing from MLK) was “free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last!” I think that having metal pins and rods in his leg for life was thought of as a fair trade by him. That says some unpleasant things, doesn’t?

    2. 430MLK

      I also enjoyed the Ivy League article but am a bit skeptical about the author’s suggestion that non-Ivys are much different.

      The past 20 years have seen our state-U and regional-U universities attempt to upscale according to the Ivy model. I covered one such upscaling, the University of Kentucky’s 10-20year attempt to become a “Top 20” university (along the lines of UW-Madison, which in this piece is held up as an antidote to Ivy thinking). The metrics used to chart UK’s rise relied on increasing their endowment, hiring higher-credentialed profs–Ivy profs, and state Ivies like UC-Berkely (also held up in this article as an anti-dote)–and producing more articles in elite publications. UK, of course, sank like a stone in the rankings over their charting course, but their endowment skyrocketed and they have done a good amount of Ivy hiring to go along with their tuition increases. Friends of mine who have taught at regional state U’s note a similar thing, an uspcaling to be what their state-U’s were before they chased ‘elite’ status. (Incidentally, state universities also had to upscale the territory in which they claimed to operate–my state U wanted to be a global leader, an act with meant the Kentucky-based institution paid top-dollar for Ivy-trained global educator-researchers who operate on a global pay scale, but also, our UK president from 2005 argued, that they would pay home-bound staff according to a local Kentucky market because that’s the market in which they circulated.)

      The Ivy author cites the joke about Harvard being a hedge fund w/ an academic arm. At UK, the joke is that the university is a real estate investment company (or a medical complex, take your pick) with a basketball team.

      1. Rod


        (my bold) from the Article:

        “The University of South Carolina community is saddened to learn of former President James Holderman’s passing,” the school said Saturday in a statement. “The positive impact our university alumni continue to have in their communities is part of his legacy. We send our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones during this difficult time.”

        A Machiavellian figure known for his charm, wide grin, infectious energy and non-stop working habits, Holderman was a master of networking in South Carolina and around the nation. During much of his presidency, he was praised for attracting high-profile people and events to USC, increasing fund-raising and lifting the university’s image from that of a party school to a more serious educational institution.


        All of these successes, and Holderman’s gift for promotion, brought the university an increasing and nonstop stream of favorable publicity. On a personal level, Holderman gained increased clout as a person who could no wrong with South Carolina’s movers and shakers, who in that era included not only politicians but the heads of major law firms, banks and businesses.

        We paid him a lot. A lot for back then.
        And he went to jail–‘twict’

        And Darla Moore is Dissed–(and pissed–rudeness being untenable within certain southern social circles)

        The University of South Carolina’s largest donor said she regrets donating more than $70 million to the university after the administration and board of trustees allegedly failed to reach out to her after her mother died, according to a letter obtained by The State.

        “The deepest regret of my life is the effort and resources I have expended on your behalf,” Moore said.

        1. 430MLK

          At $70 million, you’d think USC would have a TA from the communications department to contact her weekly.

  10. Estuary

    The W item yesterday, followed by the BIG article today, demonstrate the abject failures of the self-styled elite political class. That is not limited to America, but the poisoned ivy types seem to enjoy pursuing the neo-con and neo-lib policies with gusto.

  11. a different chris

    >Thomas Jefferson feared and reviled the Puritan schools, and founded the University of Virginia to counter

    And all the Hokies on here (and I know I’m not the only one) can only point and laugh. Or cry. Whatever.

    (from Stoller)

  12. petal

    Thank you for the “drowning in insecurity” FT article. It felt like I was reading about myself, and it was a little comforting(I feel bad for even saying that) to read about others in the same boat. I have felt so isolated and that I must be abnormal and some kind of complete f-ck up, because I am alone in dealing with this amongst my peer group. It has been so hard because there’s no one to talk to and the ones I’ve tried to talk to don’t have any concept. I’ve tried to do everything right, be a decent person, work hard. I had to dig out of a deeper hole due to parents being poor. Here I am at 42 with no owned home, am housing insecure in a big way, can’t afford to have a family, job insecurity, and driving a car with almost 150,000 miles on it. I will be moving into a rental I can’t really afford because there’s literally no other rentals available and nothing I can afford to buy within about an hour radius. Competition for jobs is insane-you are competing against so many, and yet they keep importing more and more. And it makes competition for scarce housing stock even worse. There’s nothing left in life to look forward to, just continued wage slavery, for what, another 40 years if I’m lucky? Get ready for more deaths of despair in years to come. I can’t imagine the situation is going to improve. But that’s all part of the plan, isn’t it?

    1. Alfred

      So sorry, Petal. If it makes you feel any better, I think people who thought I was a f-ckup were just terrifed the same things would happen to them. And they were happy to toss me into the volcano to appease those gods. “Just keep your end clean,” my therapist told me. I am hoping for some relief for you.

      1. petal

        Thank you, Alfred. Much appreciated. The stress, anxiety, and depression has been horrible. Can’t remember the last time I really slept, and can’t imagine what kind of shape I’d be in if I could drink/smoke/do drugs. It wouldn’t be good.

        1. Isotope_C14

          Sad to hear petal, can you get out of the US? Life in Berlin is 100% less stressful than life in the US. There are LOTS of biotech jobs available all over Europe. Plus, half the time you can live without a car here. They have these magical trains all over the place. Is your significant other in bio as well?

          1. petal

            Hi Isotope! Unfortunately I cannot-my German ancestors left some time ago so no qualifying to get in that way, and I only have a Bachelors degree(and several graduate level courses). Very hard to get a foreign biotech gig without a PhD. Plus I’d feel bad about taking a job from a European person. Would love to live over there and work for a while, though. That would be enjoyable, plus I could improve my German. Next life, maybe!

            1. Isotope_C14

              It’s a lot easier than you think. I’m a non-PhD (too poor to do it in the US) and masters degrees are very easy to enroll in here, and they give you a stipend. I don’t have a completed masters, and I just lab-tech here. If you want my private e-mail I could certainly help.

              The German lab techs (MTA) are usually robots in comparison to the US schooled folks. Actually, US techs are highly sought-after.

              With the right connections, you can get out of that festering collapsing country before it is too late, even with the COVID situation.

              Once you are out of the US for like 2 years, you can’t even imagine going back. Even with the homesickness, it’s just not worth it.

            2. Phacops

              Ever thought about the manufacturing side? Especially as biosimilars are big in the EU? There is always a need for Quality/Process Validation, especially if you know applied Statistical process control and optimization. Especially as the EMA is ahead of the FDA in some respects of Quality engineered into processes and procedures.

              1. petal

                Thanks, Phacops! Unfortunately I am probably going to still run into the expensive housing problem. Wherever I go, I’ll kind of hit a salary ceiling because I don’t have a PhD.

                1. coboarts

                  My worthless 2 cents – Petal, do what Isotope says and make it real. My brother is an expat in Germany, and he ain’t coming back. All the “no way in the world” cannot stand before one foot in front of the other. Just make it happen.

            3. PlutoniumKun

              Biotech isn’t my work area, so I can’t give detailed advice, but there is a very large biotech industry in Ireland that is always recruiting, and generally Ireland is fairly generous with work visas if a company ‘signs you off’ (i.e. if they say they can’t find anyone locally of equivalent skills). Housing costs in Dublin are astronomically high, but lots of the biotech companies are in rural locations where its much cheaper to live. Once the job is secure its quite easy to get the equivalent of a green card and live in Europe until you qualify for citizenship, and then of course you can go anywhere in the EU you want. I know a few USasians here who made the move for job reasons and have found it worked out quite well for them, although most had sufficient Irish ancestry to dodge the visa issue.

              Its actually quite a good time to move to Ireland if you get a job in a rural area, as a lot of vacation rentals are going cheap due to the tourism collapse. I know a Singapore/Japanese couple in banking who moved recently here for work and did a deal for a very cheap holiday apartment right at the edge of the beautiful Killarney National Park.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I am really pressed what to say here, petal. The most hateful thing about this whole system is that it makes people think that they are at fault and not the system itself – which does this by design. It may be only a small comfort to you that your thoughts and comments are always appreciated here and you are one of the people whose comments I pay close attention to. Just try to remember that even though times are dark for you at the moment that nothing stays the same as I have found this to be true in my own life. Don’t forget to take care of yourself and keep your eyes open for any opportunities that come your way. Love.

      1. Alfred

        I agree, and the most frustrating thing about this is “the system” is this concept, and does nothing to help people know how to avoid or remedy their situation. We need to look at who in our lives is causing our difficulties, because somehow we are all being betrayed. Recognizing, going around, and not participating are not easy, but it’s what kept me from complete ruin. IMO, it’s not the “f-ckups” that are at fault, its the perpetuators who think they are the “winners” doing everything right. I don’t pretend to know how I could have done it any other way than going around these people, and living in “poverty” to do it.

      2. RockHard

        >The most hateful thing about this whole system is that it makes people think that they are at fault and not the system itself

        I said this to my 18 year old yesterday – It’s the American way, if something bad happens to you, it MUST be your fault. Just trying to warn my kid that this is how things will be here.

    3. PlutoniumKun

      Thank you for being so open and honest about your situation, Petal. The system that reduces decent people to this horrible degree of uncertainty and pressure is evil.

      There is no meritocracy as we all know. I’m 54 now and I left school and then Uni in the teeth of a terrible recession and spent some years aimless and drifting. Looking back, on about 3 occasions I had strokes of luck – and it was pure blind luck, nothing to do with my skills or hard work – that led me to a reasonably comfortable position now. The only hope I can offer to you is that I’ve seen friends and contemporaries – even fairly later on in life, had those strokes of luck that allowed them to achieve reasonably decent lives. I hope you get one of those moments soon, you deserve it.

    4. cocomaan

      The biggest “break” I’ve had career-wise at 36 years old is this work from home deal, where I’ve actually been able to save a tremendous amount of money on commuting, food, business attire, etc, while also doing my job(s) at the same level of productivity.

      Kind of sad that it took a pandemic to get an effective raise.

      I think I’ll be able to continue WFH due to the nature of my work, but many people will not.

      It’s a vicious world. I am resentful that I have not had one but two catastrophic “unprecedented” economic collapses in my time as a worker drone.

      Where are the boom times that everyone keeps talking about? They seem like a myth.

      1. Samuel Conner

        > Where are the boom times that everyone keeps talking about? They seem like a myth.

        They were, arguably, in part an artefact of “the Great Moderation”, which is over as interest rates have hit the lower bound.

        1. cocomaan

          Ahhh, had not heard that term before, good research fodder. Thanks!

          Reminds me of the period of peace created by von Bismarck, shattered then by WW1.

    5. Phacops

      Isolation is hard and soul bruising. I agree with Alfred as people with the egos who think they are successes in life (Neurotypicals) are those that are masters of rejection, isolation, and marginalization. I hope you can value even small successes in daily life and accept your unique self. Hard when insecurity is a feature of life. I wish you the best, having been marginalized as undiagnosed on the spectrum. I wish people would recognize that all we really have in this life of value is each other.

      I wonder if the features of insecurity: in shelter, in sustenance, in employment, in health, are deliberate, since an insecure population is easily manipulated. If not deliberate, then it seems to be exploited by the wealthy and powerful.

    6. WhoaMolly

      Re: Petal

      Speaking from 40 years out, the one thing that saved me from a similar situation–homeless and broke–was as Rev Kev said, “working on myself”.

      The one thing that worked best was daily exercise. I would walk to a local park and go jogging every day at 11 AM. It took about five years of s*** jobs and learning new skills at night to work my way out of the situation. The jogging was a constant thread that kept me sane.

      These days, 40 years later and facing problems of old age, I notice that daily exercise is still saving me. Can’t jog, so now it’s yoga.

      Meanwhile, here’s a fun video of how one guy solved his ‘expensive housing’ problem. I file it in my ‘whimsical’ file under the heading, ‘Alaska is the new Florida’. If I was 40 years younger I would seriously consider heading North.

      1. petal

        Thanks, WhoaMolly! Funny you mention running-I had been running 5 days a week at lunch time up until 2 months ago. I decided I needed every ounce of energy to be able to think straight and deal with everything so I stopped. Totally agree with you about Alaska! If I was younger, I’d go. There’s a Canadian guy, Shawn James, who has a lot of how-to videos up on youtube about living in the bush up in Ontario. They’re great. He had run into some financial difficulties and finally said to heck with it and bailed.

          1. petal

            I don’t have as much energy as healthy folks to begin with, so end up tired after. Worried that I didn’t have enough juice left to react properly to life’s problems. Was clocking a 6:35 mile in Dec. I can’t help but push myself hard, and my running performance got to feel like the one thing I had some control over, and so of course I went overboard. Not very smart. Doing that isn’t helpful so I needed to stop for a while until things get sorted out.

            1. WhoaMolly

              Stopping “going overboard“ sounds good.

              Never much good at that myself. Used to have to either get sick or collapse to stop. Very inefficient.

              Phil Maffetone’s successes in training people to improve their athletic performance by doing less and slowing down was helpful for me.


        1. WhoaMolly

          Re: I am at 42

          When I say I would consider Alaska if I was younger I mean “if I was under 70”.

          42 is young.

      1. tegnost

        While I myself have done lots of moving, it never really changed anything. It’s one of the major faults of the just theory of employment security. Petal seems more than willing to move around her region and that should be enough. Completely uprooting is hard, expensive, and more to the topic…uncertain. I wish petal well and hope that she can just get up up in the morning and say today is the day and one day be right

        (Really great but I might replace the reference to the predominant western deity with one of your own choice, or even just petal…)

        1. Jason

          While I myself have done lots of moving, it never really changed anything.

          Me too. As in, “wherever you go, there you are.” Or,

          “One’s arrival in a new place is usually full of promise. We want it that way. A new beginning, the novelty of it all. The novelty eventually wears off, and we’re left with who we are.”

          That said, new environments can help people “find” themselves or, if that’s too much, the new environment may simply be a bit more tolerable than the old one, but that “bit” may mean all the difference in the world to a given individual.

          In this particular case, the main reason I included that listing of communities is because many of them offer a significant measure of protection from the economic nonsense that petal is having to endure. Of course, there is a tradeoff in that it’s a very different way of life.

          1. Jason

            Adding, these intentional communities are all over the country, including in Vermont. Many of the communities have people who work at professional jobs in “the real world” and then decide to live in the communities to share housing costs, reduce their individual resource use (via different degrees of sharing of community resources, etc.)

            Interesting to peruse, if nothing else.

    7. kareninca

      Petal, it is probably too late for you to see this, but I am going to urge you to consider something. It will sound ridiculous, but it’s what I’d do in your situation.

      Move to Colchester, Connecticut. Get pregnant. Throw yourself onto the mercies of the welfare state there, to the extent that you need to. Have your kid; to hell with your career. As things go on, work as you can. There will be things for you to do. The job market there may be bad for a long time, but survival there will be at a high level.

      It is a very civilized large town, and it will stay that way for longer than most places. Your kid would go to very good schools, and wouldn’t go hungry, and would be around decent people.

    8. Nce

      I’m sorry this is happening to you, but you are far from being alone in this. I wish that I had left the U.S. back when W was “re-elected” but I had no clue how to accomplish that. Now I’m too old… I made the very stupid mistake of pursuing a degree and now have a worthless master’s and almost $200,000 in student debt because I had to fight the chair of my department to graduate (I didn’t really understand that grad school is mainly about preserving pmc status until I experienced it.) I don’t have work yet, I live in a truck that is almost 30 years old, and I will die in debt. If you want to know who is ready to throw it down in the streets, count me in. I wasted most of my life apologizing for my existence, but now I’m very, very angry. Still, its funny, I don’t know what to do. Many of us are just waiting for the chance to act on our anger and despair, unfortunately the time to organize is now, not during a crisis. I ask myself, what can I do where I’m at (a very rural area) without compromising my safety as a homeless person? I feel frozen, too. You are still young enough to get the hell outta here, so if you have the chance go for it. The 80 percent have no future unless the U.S. implodes and we are organized enough to take advantage of crisis.

      1. kareninca

        Nce, I am terribly sorry that you are homeless. I hope that you can somehow maintain your physical health in that situation.

  13. Colonel Smithers

    Thank you, Lambert.

    Some great news emerging from Whitehall. Samantha Jones, CEO of the UK arm of US health care giant Centene, has been appointed advisor to Johnson. Centene UK / Operose UK has just taken over hundreds of general practices.

    Not a peep from the Labour opposition. Why? Pharma Starmer is advised and funded by United Health.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Whatever else happens, the Tories never forget who their friends are, and what their ultimate mission is.

      I was willing to give Starmer the benefit of the doubt for a while. But really, he’s even worse than I thought possible.

    2. pjay

      Almost nothing surprises me these days. But the idea that UK elites (or those of most any other developed nation) could strive to make their healthcare system *more like the US* without blood in the streets — depresses me to no end.

  14. njbr

    Re China Post, covid story…

    So we find some prophylactic measures may make a difference in rates of illness, but not entirely prevent illness.

    In a world where people fight masks, distancing and vaccines–are we supposed to believe that populations will embrace prophylactic measures promoted by an authority? Once the ivermectins of the medical world lose their alt-reality cool–will people line up for their dose of ivermectin or hydroquinolone, or even iodine throat spray? I think that for most of the western world, nothing is believed until it happens to them and inconvenience trumps any possible future benefits.

    And where does this get you with respect to an easily communicated disease?

    Would one feel good about a 50% chance of getting ill?

    The rate of infection in India is now a vertical line. Let’s hope that this does not mean a new varient of concern.

    I don’t think any international travel should be considered at this time.

  15. Wukchumni

    We have an excellent sandwiches & salads restaurant (it more closely resembles a food-truck sans wheels now) here, it has been ranked in the top 100 of all restaurants in the country by Yelp the last couple years, and I stopped for a bite the other day & was talking to the owner who told he had his first European tourist (not an ex-pat living here) of the year the other day-and it felt kinda weird, he related.

    Before Covid it was quite rural cosmopolitan around these parts, sometimes in our 4 aisle food market you’d hear French, Dutch, Italian & German being spoken in each one by foreigners who made up 40% of the visitation to Sequoia NP.

    They’ve been replaced by American tourists in numbers, the owner related that during spring break, it was their highest grossing week ever.

    For many an American the past year, it has been their first visit ever and parking is ridiculous, went for an 8 mile hike the other day and there were 4 or 5 vehicles circling the parking lot waiting for somebody to leave. I felt as if I could ask $10 for my hallowed asphalt rectangle upon returning to my jalopy, judging from the harried look on countenances clutching the wheel…

    Sequoia NP usually plays second fiddle to Yosemite NP, but the later requires reservations-while none are needed here. I’m not sure what sort of factor that is in visitation, but I feel certain we’ll bust a move by the time 2022 rolls around and whereas we usually get 2 million visitors a year, 2021 has the potential to be closer to 3 million.

    If you added foreigners back to the tourism mix, there could be a 5 to 6 mile backup (it wasn’t uncommon on the weekend to have a 3 mile backup last summer) just to get to the entrance station of the NP.

    1. IMOR

      If the state has been serious about its Jan.- announced policy to offer spots in reservation only parks to the backlogged/ prior holders at reduced rates of visit/occupancy, then yeah- you hit on the biggest driver of the Seq parking jam.

    2. Nce

      Yep, I live on the Eastside, and if fires don’t smoke everyone out of here like last year, people from SoCal alone will keep businesses afloat. I’ve never seen so many RVers and van folks dispersed camping until the Creek Fire smoke funneled across Mammoth Pass and made life unbearable for months last year. I grew up in the L.A. Basin in the ’60’s and I can’t remember air quality as bad as in Mammoth Lakes in the summer and fall of 2020. Everything is drier this year, oh no.

  16. PlutoniumKun

    Growth, coal and carbon emissions: economic overheating and climate change (PDF) Bank of International Settlements

    I’ve only had a chance to speed read through this, but the overall conclusions seem pretty important – when economies are growing fast, they become more dependent on coal, and this is crucial in increasing CO2 outputs.

    We also uncover novel non-linear links between the economy and carbon emissions. We
    follow the hypothesis that overheating economies might use a less efficient energy mix as
    capacities become scarce. We find evidence that indeed during economic booms the use of coal
    increases. Overall, the interaction between economic growth and coal use is significant and
    positive for carbon emissions: i.e. booms disproportionally increase the use of carbon heavy coal
    and thereby contribute to additional CO2 emissions.

    The findings are policy relevant. Our linear model findings provide broad support for
    structural policies to green the energy structure. They highlight the negative role of coal, and to a
    much lesser extent that of oil – and the positive impact of renewable energy sources. The
    consistently negative impact of coal provides clear support for policy efforts to steer away from
    coal. Our new finding that the carbon intensity of economic growth is increasing also underscores
    the urgency of the ongoing climate change reforms.

    Perhaps even more policy relevant are the non-linear model findings. They might matter
    especially for central banks, which have the mandate to maintain stable economic conditions over
    time. Our results suggest that carbon emissions can rise disproportionately during booms.
    Therefore, mitigating the boom-bust cycle might also contribute to reducing carbon emissions.
    This finding might be particularly relevant as central banks assess what role they can play in
    mitigating climate change within their mandates.

    Shorter version: Renewables work, but fast growth and boom and bust cycles are particularly damaging and ratchet up the CO2 intensity of the economy.

    The conclusions are pretty clear – if India, Indonesia, Africa, etc., follow the Western/east Asian model of growth we are doomed. But we are in no moral position to tell those countries that they can’t grow to obtain our standards of living. They need the technology and aid to meet their populations needs without dependency on coal (or oil or gas, but coal appears to be the big one).

  17. The Rev Kev

    “All 53 on board sunken Indonesian submarine confirmed dead, more debris found: Military chief ”

    Because of the depth that sub went down in, this was always the way that it was going to be. An Indonesian naval officer said that the only way that this would not have been true was if the sub had sunk in port itself. Right now there is a video making its way across the net showing the sailors on that sub singing a song called ‘Sampai Jumpa’ (Till We Meet)- (22 secs)

  18. Wukchumni

    One of the factors leading up to the French Revolution, was widespread gambling.

    Last week’s announcement that the city of Chicago wants a single, iconic casino-resort built in the city came with a surprise: The winning bidder also gets the concession to install slot machines at O’Hare and Midway international airports.

    The Illinois Legislature cleared the way for slots at O’Hare and Midway last year, but there weren’t many details about how that was going to happen.

    Now we know that the company that is the successful bidder also will oversee the airport slot concession. We also now know that the successful bidder will be allowed to install 4,000 machines at the resort and the two airports.

    1. Carolinian

      That’s insane.

      So will people be going back to the counter to cash in their airline tickets as their luck is bound to change?

      It must be my Baptist upbringing but I’m not a fan of gambling in any form. Those fundies got a few things right. Let the high rollers lose their money but don’t put temptation in the way of ordinary saps.

    2. zagonostra

      Are you referring to the “Assignats?” Right away I thought of the “economist” John Law, but he was prior to the French Revolution.

      Assignats, NFT’s, Cryptocurriences, Bitcoin…nothing new under the sun…

      1. Wukchumni

        No, i’m talking games of chance with cards or dice…

        Assignats are more akin to QE, both were issued in small amounts initially and then over a 5 year period, a veritable shitlode.

      2. Bruno

        “the “economist”??? John Law” Why the scarequotes? Just a look at the index of Schumpeter’s great “History of Economic Analysis” and you’ll see that no other economist of his time has more references. In the few years of his “system” Law and the regent managed to cut the French national debt in half!

        1. zagonostra

          My knowledge of Law is tangential at best, so I take from your post he was a bona-fide economist, sans quotes. I need to do more research on him…

    3. WhoaMolly

      I had visions of slots connected to NASDAQ and NYSE.

      Invest while you wait for your flight?

      1. Wukchumni

        Or how about a Bitcoin slot machine that only has 7’s in the reels, everybody is a jackpot winner!

  19. zagonostra

    >Persistency in High-Cost Health Care Claims: “It’s Where the Spending Is, Stupid” EBRI

    In the seminal paper “It’s The Prices, Stupid: Why The United States Is So Different From Other Countries,” Uwe E. Reinhardt and his co-authors concluded: “The United States spent considerably more on health care than any other country, whether measured per capita or as a percentage of GDP. At the same time, most measures of aggregate utilization such as physician visits per capita and hospital days per capita were below the OECD median…U.S. policymakers need to reflect on what Americans are getting for their greater health spending. They could conclude: It’s the prices, stupid.”

    There is no need for reflection here. The answer to the implied question answers itself: America is different, some say “exceptional.”

    The response I often receive when debating the relative merits of a Canadian style HC system compared with the U.S. “system” is similar to this, that we are the U.S. and need to develop our own HC policies. To me, this ignores the basic fundaments of “Natural Law.”

    Natural law has to do with what is just by nature and not by convention, that
    is, what natural reason determines as fair and good to do. Thus, by virtue of the
    natural law, human beings bear within themselves a knowledge of certain general
    principles and precepts of right and justice that are principles of just action…

    Anyone can tell the the U.S. Healthcare system is an affront to “natural law” and all that is decent in a civil society. That it persists is also found in the same article as the quote directly above. St. Thomas Aquinas saw, relying on Aristotle, that the most favorable type of gov’t is a combination of a Monarch, Aristocracy, and Democracy. Contemporary U.S. has a addled Monarch, a corrupt and compromised Aristocracy, and a demos that has been marginalized or even completely eliminated from the function of government as expressed in policy and legistlation.

  20. Eustachedesaintpierre

    One of the highlights during the 8 years we spent living in a cottage on an Irish farm was the spectacle of the cattle erupting out of the sheds into the fields. No need to drive them just open the gates & keep well back, which was reminiscent of how our grumpy mongrel Ted would exit the vets. Open car door, then stand with the vets entrance door holding it open in preparation for his exit from the practice room as fast has his stumpy legs would carry him until he landed on the back seat.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      After a long winter, cows absolutely adore getting to run out around the fields. I’ve heard of farmers getting badly injured when they forgot this and got mown down by excited cattle once the gate was opened.

      The official line is that as herding animals, cattle are very comfortable being kept in tight quarters in the warmth over the winter months, but I really do wonder sometimes. We seem to be very good at restricting our empathy only to those animals we don’t eat.

    2. kareninca

      My 12 y.o. golden retriever mix is too creaky to hop into the car by herself; I have to lift her up. Except when she is done at the vet’s! Fleeing the vet gives her a special energy boost . . .

      My regards to Ted, in his present incarnation, wherever that is.

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        Yes Ted who suffered from bad arthritis after an op for a broken leg at that time would need to be lifted into the car too,, but a visit to the vet would work wonders with his undercarriage..

        I hope there is a plentiful supply of tennis balls, an idiot like me to throw them with succulent leftovers from someone who knows how to cook.

  21. The Rev Kev

    ‘The New York Times
    Many people are getting quite attached to the companies that made their shots, some even buying T-shirts that broadcast the tribe they’ve “joined.”‘

    Somebody should seriously start a rumour at Fox that Red Staters only go for AstraZeneca while Blue Staters only go for Pfizer. Then they should go over to the Daily Kos to start a story that Blue Staters only go for AstraZeneca while Red Staters only go for Pfizer. And you know that both lots would fall for it.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      DailyKos types would be more likely to fall for this is you said Bernie Bros. They hate anyone else to left of Nixon more than anyone else.

    2. Wukchumni

      What would occur if you doubled up on vaccinations & got rounds of both Pfizer & Moderna shots spaced apart?

        1. John A

          I am surprised people are not getting tattooes with the various pharma logos to show their allegience. Though these days, the tattooed barely seem to have any uninked skin to spare.

          1. Wukchumni

            Tattoos are really useful in determining a young adult’s net worth, sometimes I see some valued @ close to $100k.

            Oddly enough though, i’ve noticed they tend to be not interested in art, unless it’s on their body.

    3. Maritimer

      Got my Vax Murch t-shirt from Amazin’ today:


  22. chuck roast

    Minnesota (screwed by) Texas Freeze

    Uh…dopey Q. here, but why is bankruptcy not an option?

  23. The Rev Kev

    “Review: This year’s Oscars had cinematic flair and a grand setting. Too bad they couldn’t reshoot that ending ”

    I was reading another article which said that it was appropriate that it was held in a train station – because the whole thing was a train wreck. I never bothered to watch it but it seems that they eliminated film clips. So if you watched it to get mini-previews of the film nominated, it was not going to happen. And the awards were reshuffled so that Best Actor was last instead of Best Picture. This was because it was expected that the late Chadwick Boseman would win but an old white man won instead. The Oscars are now officially as toxic as the Eurovision Song Competition-

    1. John A

      I didn’t watch any of it but saw the list of winners. Can heartily recommend the best foreign film winner from Denmark, Another Round, which while very amusing, also had a salient and sad message at the heart of it.

    2. Wukchumni

      Why doesn’t Wall*Street have self-congratulatory ceremonies (aside from extravagant salaries, that is) patterned along the Academy Awards?

      ‘The award for best Collateralized Debt Obligation’ goes to…’

      1. Alfred

        An interesting idea, but can you see a narcissistic psychopath giving anybody an award but himself? They could have a ceremony, but the me,me,me aspect would get in the way I think. They would def pay for it with some clever homewrecker strategy though.

    3. Terry Flynn

      Ah but us Brits never took Eurovision seriously so never cared about the toxicity. Not coincidentally we have had someone Irish to give us the commentary for decades, which was always far more interesting than the silly competition. The late great Terry Wogan was first. Now Graham Norton. I don’t know a single person here in UK that really seriously in their heart-of-hearts cares about Eurovision per se.

      We just want to hear Graham Norton make comments that fly under the BBC’s censorship radar. As a now-half-Aussie I hoped you guys getting involved would lead to similar relationship with the competition (knowing Taylor Sq, Sydney well) but alas the ludicrousness of it all has yet to fully register – maybe watch it drunk? ;-)

    4. Carolinian

      It’s always semi-awful but at least way back when (a couple of years ago) you got comedians and jokes. In this dire time do we need cheering up or a lot of rich celebrities going on from a platform just about soap box height?

      I’ll admit I mostly scanned it so maybe there were some good bits.

  24. Andrew Watts

    RE: The Price of Nostalgia

    Hah, somebody from the Peterson Institute is trying to convince people that globalization and free trade is good actually in 2021. Ideology is blessed from error because the ideologically driven are blessed by the freedom from introspection. It doesn’t stop them from arguing in their own self-interest at the expense of others.

    The private drive for open markets and government non-interference in trade policy has been a disaster for the majority of people on this planet. In countries where foreign governments tried to regulate or control their resources they experienced an Operation Ajax or were subject to the Jakarta Method.

    Just like the last round of imperialism.

    1. tegnost

      That was one nostalgic article, jumping from one side of the ideological fence to the other and connecting zero dots. I had to read from the bottom up to make it through. Long winded contradictory and more than a little hating on white guys for screwing everything up. So many WTF’s that one can’t find a comprehensive passage worth highlighting.

  25. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: Persistency in High-Cost Health Care Claims: “It’s Where the Spending Is, Stupid” EBRI (UserFriendly). From 2019, relevant to the debate about dropping the age of Medicare eligibility.

    I understand that this is a study of people with employer based “health” insurance, but similar statistics have been published for years regarding the population in general, and every time I read them my mind is completely blown.

    Twenty percent of the population accounted for 84 percent of total health spending, 10 percent of the population accounted for 70 percent of spending, 5 percent accounted for 56 percent of spending, and 1 percent accounted for 28 percent of spending.

    But this is a new one on me:

    Not only did individuals persistently in the top 10 percent of claimants spend more on health care than those temporarily in the top 10 percent and those never in the top 10 percent, the distribution of spending varied as well. Outpatient services, such as diagnostic services, accounted for 46 percent of total health care spending for those never in the top 10 percent. Prescription drugs accounted for 26 percent of total health care spending, and office visits to primary care physicians and specialists accounted for 18 percent. In contrast, among those in the top 10 percent for all five years, prescription drugs accounted for 52 percent of total health care spending, outpatient services accounted for 29 percent, and office visits accounted for 3 percent.

    Apparently these “insured” heavy spenders outlive their usefulness to the “healthcare” providers, so they just get to stay home and organize their pills until they can get turned over to Medicare to be milked again, albeit at a lower rate.

    Maybe after years of big claims, the insurance companies have to be worked harder to get payment, and the providers would rather “cultivate” a less, for the time being, claims toxic clientele.

  26. DJG, Reality Czar

    The article about after Rome gets pretty darn comic: “In the end, once the Italian Renaissance had run its course, it was precisely those parts of western Europe where the legacies of Roman rule had faded most thoroughly, or where Rome had never held sway at all, that spearheaded political, economic and scientific progress: Britain, the Low Countries, northern France and northern Germany. It was there that Germanic traditions of communal decision-making survived the longest and that the Reformation precipitated yet another break from Rome. It was there that social values changed most profoundly, modern commercial capitalism took root, and science and industrial technology flourished.”

    So: Discounting the high middle ages in France and Italy, the enormous changes brought about by the Renaissance in Italy and France, the Republic of Venice and its far-flung influence, the transmission of scientific texts by the Arabs, the discoveries of the Arab world exported by means of Sicily and Southern Spain, the Catalan empire stretching from Aragon to Sicily, let alone the commercial reach of Venice, Barcelona, Byzantium, Lyon, Genoa, Lisbon, Smyrna (Izmir), and other cities, let alone Basque fishermen, we discover that it all comes down to “Germanic traditions of communal decision-making.”

    Of which the English and German nobility/aristocracies are the most evolved for-instance.

    The Anglo-American academics and their blinkered view of the world. It would be comic, except that they are dissolving in this mindset.

    1. Maxwell Johnston

      This is the third time I’m reading “The Road from Rome” (first time two weeks ago on A&L Daily, second time last week on this site), so I feel obliged to say that I think it’s an unusually silly article. The author might also opine that Germany and Japan benefited greatly from WW2, as the bombing of their cities enabled them to build competitive new factories and modern infrastructure. Or that the Black Death of the 14th century was a good thing because it spurred on social changes that eventually led to the Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution. I’m with Kenneth Clark and Edward Gibbon on the fall of Roman civilization; it was a disaster, full stop.

  27. A.

    “You Pfizer, Me Moderna: Vaccine Recipients Declare Loyalty”

    I swear, we’re living in a cyberpunk world, except everything is so darn banal and boring…

    1. Ook

      I heard a comedian riff about this a while back. He was talking about how he got a Premium Pfizer ticket, and all the celebs that were partying at the vaccination place for Pfizer, Herbie Hancock on the piano, champagne flowing,and those sad Moderna losers sitting in the corner sipping water and looking angry.
      I thought it was funny, but now I realize with horror that some people are serious about it.

  28. Wukchumni

    I finally get to see my mom in person* this week @ her assisted living place after a 17 month absence. Frankly when Covid started I felt it might never happen again, oh happy day!

    * I see her for an hour every week on our family Zoom jams, but it isn’t the same thing

  29. lobelia

    Regarding the situation you’ve noted above, petal, I’m so sorry. I was hoping, when I saw comments of yours not discussing your unfair situation that maybe some luck came your way. Regarding:

    Competition for jobs is insane-you are competing against so many, and yet they keep importing more and more. And it makes competition for scarce housing stock even worse.

    I couldn’t agree more regarding work visas and so called adversity lotteries. And it’s not just in Tech, it appears to be in many vocations. Criminally, I’ve yet to see the issue acknowledged at all over the last two decades it’s been exploding. One aspect of it, which I’ve become certain was deliberate, is that those on visas can’t vote on issues which particularly kneecap residents who rent, such as lack of affordable housing, and fair rental (regarding rent increases and eviction protections) and employee regulations. Frankly, it’s well over a century past the time the US should have Federally instituted those protections.

    Something I’ve accidentally found a little easing, when I’m alone and the depression over the unfair monstrosity of yet another blow hits hard to the point of total bleakness, is deliberately turning up the corners of my mouth into a ‘smile.’ I guess it’s a primitive, remembered brain response of happier times.

    Also, ever since the brutal, early 2001 US recession (which, as with all recessions, did far more long lasting damage than was ever acknowledged, much obscured by Cheney/Shrub’s savage attack on Iraq), for my own sanity, I’ve become very careful about avoiding totally knee jerk, unsolicited advice, which does more damage than good too many times (e.g. insulting one’s own intelligence and intuition as to their particular situation, as if one’s unfair and crippling situation made them dumb all of a sudden).

    gotta run

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