Links 4/6/2021

Why more of us are seeing stars: Lack of light pollution from pubs and restaurants during lockdown is a boon for skygazers Daily Mail

Can we engineer our way out of the planetary problems we’ve engineered our way into? Science

Demand boom on collision course with ocean transport ceiling Hellenic Shipping News

Some of the World’s Top Artists Are Trying Their Hand at NFTs. The World’s Top Galleries Are a Bit More Skeptical Artnet News

NFT Price Crash Stirs Debate on Whether Stimulus-Led Fad Is Over Bloomberg

As ransomware stalks the manufacturing sector, victims are still keeping quiet Cyberscoop

#COVID19

Children now playing ‘huge role’ in spread of COVID-19 variant, expert says ABC7 (mv). Osterholm on B117.

Estimation of secondary household attack rates for emergent spike L452R SARS-CoV-2 variants detected by genomic surveillance at a community-based testing site in San Francisco Clinical Infectious Diseases. Genome sequencing. From the Abstract: “The increase in prevalence, relative household attack rates, and reproductive number are consistent with a modest transmissibility increase of the West Coast variants.”

Attack rates amongst household members of outpatients with confirmed COVID-19 in Bergen, Norway: A case-ascertained study The Lancet. The Interpretation: “Serological assays provide more sensitive and robust estimates of household attack rates than RT-PCR. Children are equally susceptible to infection as young adults. Negative RT-PCR or lack of symptoms are not sufficient to rule out infection in household members.”

Estimates and Projections of COVID-19 and Parental Death in the US JAMA. From the Abstract: “As of February 2021, 37 300 children aged 0 to 17 years had lost at least 1 parent due to COVID-19, three-quarters of whom were adolescents…. When we rely on excess deaths, we estimate that 43 000 children have lost a parent. ”

“Herd immunity,” a thread:

Common-sense walkthrough.

* * *

Researchers Are Hatching a Low-Cost Coronavirus Vaccine NYT

Johnson & Johnson takes control at troubled Emergent vaccine plant after major production snafu Fierce Pharma

Watching mRNA Do Its Thing, In Living Cells Derek Lowe, “In The Pipeline,” Science. Results begin at paragraph five.

Coronavirus Today: Lessons from the Auntie Sewing Squad Los Angeles Times

Why It Pays to Think Outside the Box on Coronavirus Tests NYT

China?

The Longest Telegram: A Visionary Blueprint for the Comprehensive Grand Strategy Against China We Need War on the Rocks. From April 1, still germane.

U.S.-China Cold War Will Have More Than Two Sides Bloomberg

China Creates its Own Digital Currency, a First for Major Economy WSJ

China Asks Banks to Curtail Credit for Rest of Year Bloomberg

China, US send warships into disputed waters as tensions rise over Whitsun Reef South China Morning Post

UK lawyers feel ripples of Chinese sanctions on Essex Court Chambers FT

Singapore to accept COVID-19 digital travel pass from next month Reuters

Myanmar

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi warns Asean to be alert to external forces interfering in Myanmar South China Morning Post

S.Korea steel giant POSCO weighs how to exit Myanmar military-backed venture -sources Reuters

Cut off from the outside world:

In the line of fire: the deadly job of covering Mandalay’s protests Frontier Myanmar

CNN bigfoots Myanmar:

With predictable results:

Myanmar Coup Opponents Announce ‘Unity Government’, Interim Constitution The Diplomat. Complete with Constitution:

All that should have been the CNN story. But no, the story was two military-owned malls that mysteriously burned down well after curfew, and which were then featured by that same military on a credulous or corrupt CNN as examples of protester violence.

India

What’s Behind India’s Second Coronavirus Wave? Foreign Policy

Broken bow: Dhanushkodi’s forgotten people People’s Archive of Rural India

Syraqistan

Turkey’s Canal Istanbul dispute explained Al Jazeera

Jordanian intrigue points to outside meddling FT

Iran, world powers to discuss US return to nuclear deal Al Jazeera

UK/EU

Strain on NHS as tens of thousands of staff suffer long Covid Guardian

Discreet charm:

Draghi and austerity champion Italy Notes on macro policy debates

Why Brazil Still Matters Glenn Greenwald, The Nation

“Poor Rich Haiti” or How Imperialists and Local Oligarchy Have Sought to Destroy Agriculture in Haiti Black Agenda Report

New Cold War

Again, Washington jumps to conclusions over Ukraine-Russia skirmish Responsible Statecraft

Demise of the Dollar? The Big Picture

Republican Funhouse

Matt Gaetz Defended Me When My Nudes Were Shared Without My Consent. Now He’s Accused of Doing Just That Katie Hill, Vanity Fair. And we’re not talking about Cuomo anymore, are we? Either Cuomo.

Boeing

Boeing’s freighter dominance threatened Leeham News and Analysis

Imperial Collapse Watch

Drones that swarmed U.S. warships are still unidentified, Navy chief says NBC

The pathology of economics Developing Economics

Funding the Recovery of Low-income Countries After COVID IMF

Black Injustice Tipping Point

Chauvin used excessive force, unsanctioned technique, police chief testifies Star Tribune

‘The Narrative Is, “You Can’t Get Ahead”’ (interview) Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic

Identity Politics and Civic Imagination Tikkun

Class Warfare

‘I’ll probably get fired’: Amazon drivers in Henrietta walk out to protest working conditions Democrat & Chronicle

Labor board says Amazon illegally fired outspoken workers AP

The zombie economy and digital arm-breakers Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic

The costs of a secretive ‘wealth defense industry’ of shell companies, offshore tax havens, and empty luxury condos Boston Globed

America Has a Ruling Class Samuel Goldman, NYT

‘The rich shouldn’t feel like the enemy’: Is New York turning on the wealthy? FT

This Again Eschaton

Why millions of students are missing out on food-assistance benefits Popular Science (Re Silc).

Honeypot?

And perhaps inevitably:

Chocolate’s Secret Ingredient Is Fermenting Microbes Scientific American

Antidote du Jour (via):

Out of season. But still cute cats.

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.

127 comments

  1. Isotope_C14

    Can we engineer our way out of the planetary problems we’ve engineered our way into? Science

    Betteridge’s law of headlines – the answer should be obvious.

    “This latter solution, she notes, “has been described as ‘dangerous beyond belief,’ ‘a broad highway to he**,’ ‘unimaginably drastic,’ and also as ‘inevitable.’”

    Mars it is!

    Reply
    1. Susan the other

      We’ll have to fine tune our CO2 footprint. And our pollution externalizations. And then the answer should be yes. Responsible engineering. It was interesting to read Pepe Escobar today on “How Eurasia Will Be Interconnected”. That’s engineering. And I would say it is inescapable. You can almost feel the Heartland emerging. It was an interesting summary. Also an interesting take on Suez.

      Reply
      1. Isotope_C14

        50% of the molecules of nitrogen in your (and everyone’s) body come directly from fossil fuels.

        I’m all ears on a solution to that little CO2 obstacle.

        How is one to extract enough fertilizer for agriculture to hold a population of 9B+ and retain a reduced carbon footprint?

        Admittedly I’m not a professional synthetic chemist, but as a microbiologist, I’ve taken many of the same requisite classes, and I’m chemically unable to find a solution for this.

        Reply
        1. Susan the other

          The big one is population control, if we have enough time left. And then all the modern conveniences: cars; toasty furnaces; mining for bitcoin; go back to dedicated forestry and agriculture by manual labor; conservation of all resources; recycling. All of it. Back to a level of self-sufficiency that is tolerable for the planet. It won’t happen overnight. And some of it will be 6s for decades to come until we reestablish the balance we need. For instance, it will cost us an expensive carbon footprint to clean up the oceans and build new systems (trains? garbage recycling?). First things first: we all need to admit the planet has been seriously poisoned.

          Reply
          1. Isotope_C14

            Hi Susan,

            I agree with you in theory, and wish it was so simple.

            Have you seen Seapiracy?

            I heard 50% of the pacific garbage patch is discarded fishing nets…

            We already made the forever chemicals, and they aren’t going anywhere soon. We done torched the planet, and the microbes in the permafrost up north are going to cook us, regardless of what we do.

            Reply
        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          I am guessing this problem of burning carbon to get agro-nitrogen refers to the Haber-Bosch process.

          Different species of life-forms bio-fixed their own sky-nitrogen and worked it up into plant-absorbable plant-growth-useful forms before the invention of Haber-Bosch nitrogen fixation. And they still do.

          The question is . . . . do they do enough of it to bring enough bio-fixed nitrogen into the plant growth system to keep all current people alive?

          I know that some Haberless-Boschless farmers say they are getting all the solar-powered sky-nitrogen bio-fixation they need for profitable crop production on their operations. I gather that there are still so few of them known to the broader society that they could all be named by individual name. Gabe Brown, Gary Zimmer, Mark Shephard, and others. They claim to get yields of various crops close to what their Haber-Bosch neighbors are getting. I know that Gabe Brown has claimed to get more corn with his no-Haber no-Bosch system than the average Haber-Bosch farmer in North Dakota gets on average.

          If this is all true, and I haven’t heard any of it debunked yet, then the question arises as to whether it can be scaled up to ” all the farmland on earth” if ” all the farmers on earth” decided to do it the same no-Haber no-Bosch way.

          Based on my best understanding of what I read and in my own not-even-amateur opinion, I think it could. Why can’t Mr. Zimmer’s neighbors down the road do what Mr. Zimmer is doing at Otter Creek Farm? Is the biology and physics so different down the road that the solar powered nitro-fixation that works on Otter Creek Farm can not be made to work down the road from Otter Creek Farm? ( Since people are getting Gabe Brown fatigue . . . )

          Gary Zimmer of MidWestern Bio Ag. https://www.midwesternbioag.com/leadership/gary-zimmer-2-2/

          Reply
      2. Susan the other

        To that end: last nite on BBC there was some new talk on how people will need help moving themselves away from living right at sea level. And that was followed when the local news came back on with a report on how the state was organizing a distribution system for “rain barrels.” Most of Utah is a desert, except for the mountains. Last month they officially declared a state of emergency because we are headed for a deep drought. Leaving me wondering, How much deeper can it get? I don’t know how they can be so certain – that’s the part that makes me anxious. And it also makes me wonder how much Biden Money is actually going to mitigate the climate, under the pretext of rough economic times. Whatever.

        Reply
        1. Isotope_C14

          https://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/

          I found an old image of this page I took in 2017, must have posted it to twitter or something. It wasn’t even 20% as bad.

          My other response to you is in moderation.

          Biden said nothing will fundamentally change. I don’t know why this is a surprise to anyone. The uber-rich have their bunkers, and poor people are just the marks with which they drain productivity, and wage theft of course. The billionaires think they are going to suddenly become farmers after they manage to get to the seed vault, or at least their AI-Robot farmers are. Tells you how deluded these guys are.

          We are now in the collapse. Better to laugh at it, and move along – I know tons of scientists and I’ve suggested plans for permaculture communities and everyone just still goes to work and toils on their meaningless projects.

          Reply
            1. Petter

              More than any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads. One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.
              – Woody Allen

              Reply
          1. drumlin woodchuckles

            Perhaps these well paid and well obedience-trained and well housebroken scientists are the wrong people to talk to about permaculture communities.

            If you know people who have felt just a hint of the cold dead breath of economic fear and despair who might already be thinking of possible means of escape from the onrushing no-future future, they might be the sort of people who would be interested in a permaculture community.

            Reply
  2. voteforno6

    Re: Antidote

    I’d hate to see one of those when it gets angry…I wonder how far the fur puffs out.

    Still, those are a couple of good-looking cats (absolute units, as the kids say).

    Reply
      1. Alfred

        They look to me just like the artwork on vintage postcards. Beautiful, and chock full of personality.

        Reply
  3. zagonostra

    >America Has a Ruling Class Samuel Goldman – NYT

    There is so much to pick apart in this article. How to choose among all the falsities and misdirection would take too much time. But let me throw out a couple of quotes from it anyways.

    Ultimately, the change must come from the powerful themselves

    Admitting the fact of noblesse might help encourage the ideal of oblige.

    On the right, it tends to involve exaggerated machismo and embrace of working-class signifiers

    That skepticism becomes dangerous, though, when it pits an unconventional affect and good intentions against the practical demands of governing. The defining task of politics isn’t to speak truth to power. It’s to use power to achieve shared goals.

    First, change will never come from the “powerful themselves.” It may enlist those from that class which are enlightened and identify with the weak, dispersed, and unpowerful.

    “Encourage?” Like the “Squad” encouraged in strongly worded letters to their leadership? That kind of encouragement? How about we drop that approach and “demand” that the “ideal” be made manifest and become the real.

    “Working-class signifiers?” Have I taken a trip back in time and find that I’m sitting in a class where the instructor is covering Derrida and we are reading Jonathan Culler’s book on “Deconstruction?” Speaking with the language and non opacity of Machiavelli is a much sounder approach to educating the reader, not that this is what this article does.

    “The defining task of politics isn’t to speak truth to power. It’s to use power to achieve shared goals.” The first part of this quote has become a cliché. I remember hearing it come from “Spider Man” somewhere where it was playing in the background. It sounds noble. But language becomes debased like the edges of a coin and when it is so worn that it looses it’s purchase it should be dropped (unless it is used in a novel way that changes its meaning.) Politics is not to speak truth to power and it is not for “achieving shared goals.” Anyone who has taken the bare courses in political philosophy knows that the aim of politics is to try and achieve the “good state.”

    And though people like Karl Popper may try and avoid using “good” and instead use phrases like “the open soicety” and you may want to insert a false “value/fact” dichotomy into the discourse, you can not avoid what the good “signifies.”

    It’s not that “America has a ruling class” that is noteworthy in my humble opinion, that only makes me yawn. It’s how the ruling class has departed from the “good society” that has me thinking hard about a lot of what I read and see around me.

    Reply
    1. montanamaven

      Christopher Lasch’s last book is “The Revolt of the Elites”. The global financial elites abandoned their towns and it fell to landed gentry who owned businesses like car dealerships, storage facilities, fruit trees and bee hives to protect and maintain a good society. Another thesis about where power lies was put forth by Patrick Wyman. American Gentry
      who I discovered here when it was linked last year. Here in Montana, the “big mules” are the ranchers who don’t owe money and the real estate agents. Used to be the car dealership owners but those are gone. The lumberyard and construction company owners are also big mules. Hard to win a seat as a county commissioner without their endorsement.

      Reply
      1. km

        I have been thinking lately about the intersection of Local Gentry and the elite class described here by Michael O. Church.

        https://indiepf.com/michael-o-churchs-theory-of-3-class-ladders-in-america-archive/

        The local lumber baron isn’t a member of the national elite, although they most closely resemble the national elite in attitude and sources of wealth, nor are they the professionals that service the elites, but at the same time, they aren’t jumped up proles, either.

        The local gentry, however, are the Powers That Be in a lot of places, but they seem to be skipped over.

        Reply
      2. Jeremy Grimm

        I suggest looking to G. William Domhoff for an analysis of power at the local level. I view Domhoff as the worthy successor to C. Wright Mills. Material at his website at UC Santa Cruz:
        “Power at the Local Level”, https://whorulesamerica.ucsc.edu/local/ a list of links to material on the Who Rules website related to local power structures.
        “Who Really Ruled in Dahl’s New Haven?”, https://whorulesamerica.ucsc.edu/local/new_haven.html one of those links describing some of the findings presented in more detail in Domhoff’s book:
        Who Really Rules? : New Haven and Community Power Re-Examined
        https://www.thriftbooks.com/w/who-really-rules-new-haven-and-community-power-reexamined_g-william-domhoff/867368/#edition=700251
        Urban renewal acquires a distinctly sinister quality.

        Reply
    2. diptherio

      …the aim of politics is to try and achieve the “good state.”

      Wait a minute, now…whose aim? Because “politics” isn’t a decision-making entity, and has no aims of it’s own, and my direct interaction with local, state, and national politicians leads me to believe that their aim is actually the maintenance and consolidation of their own influence, power, and wealth…at least in the vast majority of cases. The aim of the ruling class is, and always has been, to make sure that they remain the ruling class, regardless of what may have been taught in a political philosophy course.

      Reply
      1. hunkerdown

        “Working-class signifiers” = “Why don’t people aspire to bourgeois aesthetics they will never be able to afford, so that we can exploit them more easily and thoroughly?”

        Reply
  4. The Rev Kev

    ‘This military-controlled “reporting” trip managed to tell us nothing new, while still getting 11 people arrested. She also justified it by saying no “international media” has been allowed in, dismissing the work of all of us who have been risking our safety since day one.’

    On the bright side, CNN’s Arwa Damon is being flown in to see if the regime is using chemical weapons by sniffing backpacks for Sarin gas. “I know how to smell for stuff like that as it always smells strange. I recommend air strikes against the regime if I smell it.”

    Reply
    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      CNN should give this Arwa Damon some sarin to sniff on camera, to show the audience at home how its done.

      Reply
  5. Watt4Bob

    Greenwald says more than he knows about Brazilian politics.

    From Greenwald’s Brazil article;

    It’s not just that Brazil has oil. The country’s massive oil reserves, including much of the planet’s so-called pre-salt reserves, are of particular geostrategic and environmental importance. “Pre-salt” is a geological designation for oil that is extremely old and thus buried far deeper in the earth than standard petroleum, usually under a layer of salt. That makes its extraction more difficult and expensive, but it also provides far more potential in terms of volume than most of the world’s remaining reserves. Brazil’s Petrobras discovered the massive pre-salt reserves in 2006, but it is still unknown just how large they are. What is beyond doubt is that the oil is of immense value to a world still dependent on fossil fuels yet whose reserves are dwindling.

    And from a Reuters article he linked to;

    RIO DE JANEIRO, March 29 (Reuters) – Brazil’s state oil company Petrobras PETR4.SAPBR.N on Thursday played down a newspaper report saying it had struck super giant light oil reserves of 10 billion barrels in the Campos basin.

    The deposit was found in the BC-60 block of the deepwater Caxareu field off the coast of Espirito Santo state in the Campos Basin. The oil was discovered at depths ranging from 1,011 to 4,862 meters (3,317 to 15,951 feet)

    And from my own post at Firedoglake, May 5th, 2010 “This wasn’t just another oil well” about the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe;

    So how is it, and why is it that big oil has managed to hide the fact that we may have the worlds biggest oil deposits sitting right off our southern shores?

    It’s because they deem it necessary to control the American people’s attitude toward the resources they are stealing from rest of the world.

    You see, the oil that lies under other country’s territory is our oil supply, and the oil that lies under our own territory is our reserve oil supply.

    Simple isn’t it?

    If the American people knew that we had the worlds largest oil deposits right here at home, how could we be convinced that it was necessary to bomb the rest of the world into the stoneage in order to save our way of life?

    The whole plan was going along very well until BP made a big mistake by drilling into that deep oil deposit that turned out to be under such immense pressure that they were unable to control it.

    Now we’re going to learn all about their well-kept secret, because it’s going to washing up on our shores, and it’s going to be on the front page every day for months.

    Reply
  6. Dr. John Carpenter

    “And we’re not talking about Cuomo anymore, are we?” Funny, that. I am embarrassed to say I thought Coumo was done maybe two weeks into this. But by the time accuser #10 came out and nothing had changed, I figured it was just a matter of time until the next shiny object. And here we are.

    Reply
    1. Tom Stone

      “Different spanks for different ranks”.
      Even at best “Officers get non specific urethritis and enlisted men get the clap”.

      Reply
    2. Katniss Everdeen

      Let me state it as clearly as possible: If, despite his denials, Matt Gaetz did have sex with a minor, if he did provide girls and young women with drugs and money and gifts in exchange for sex, if he did ask these girls and young women to recruit other women for the same purpose, and if he did show his colleagues images of nude women without their consent, he needs to be held responsible.

      Just in time for Easter–jeffrey epstein is risen.

      Reply
  7. Mikel

    Re: NFTs

    My current take on these:
    1) another desperate attempt generate “jobs” from BS tech in a world of manufacturing. A world where there are real, tangible things still being made – many made with skill and providing a sense of accomplishment. But they’ve gaslighted people into the imaginary “post-industrial” world, although everything in sight is manufactured somewhere. In factories.
    2) Another “tool” that takes creatives away from being creative and puts them more in the service of working on yet another digital plantation, promoting it more than being creative and promoting the intrinsic value of a creation

    Reply
    1. Michael Ismoe

      I love the part about how this insane NFT pricing is related to the stimulus checks.

      NFT Price Crash Stirs Debate on Whether Stimulus-Led Fad Is Over Bloomberg

      The elites are really, really pissed off about those direct payments aren’t they? So far $600 checks have caused a stock market crash because of Gamestock and now those $1400 checks are are the result of giving you some playing around money. The lesson that should be learned here is that money needs to go to the top because poor people just waste it.

      Reply
      1. Mikel

        Haven’t you heard? If money is spent helping people in need, the dollar becomes “worthless”. Give a few trillion to bankstas for bonuses and bailouts…no problem.

        Reply
    2. Alfred

      I confess my eyes cross readig about this. I like this:
      “Everything You Need to Know to Make it Through a Conversation About NFTs” thecut dot com

      “Now. Imagine that Phantom Thread takes place in the year 2021. To get with the times, the House of Woodcock is selling digital renderings of a gowns. Cool. The only problem is that they can’t call this type of work haute couture. Why? Because digital assets are fungible. If Woodcock saved the finished project to his desktop — let’s call the file WeddingDress.jpg — it could be copied a million times and sent to a million different people, and everyone would have the same thing.

      This is where NFTs come in. As luck would have it, there’s a princess out there who loves Woodcock’s work, thinks it’s fucking chic, and wants to own an image of it. She is rich in cryptocurrency, but she’s only going to pay for a JPEG file if she’s able to say with absolute certainty that she alone owns the original, nobody else. So instead of buying WeddingDress.jpg, she buys an NFT of the file, which Cyril has put up for auction on a digital NFT marketplace like this one, under the username is Oldsoandso.

      Without getting too much into the tech, what the princess has purchased isn’t the file itself. What’s she’s purchased instead is basically a digital certificate of authenticity that says, in code: “Oldsoandso transferred the ownership of this file to me on this date for this much money.” That receipt, which was “minted” on the blockchain, where it cannot be deleted, duplicated, or messed with, is the non-fungible-haute-couture token and thing of value. It’s as if Woodcock wrote “never cursed” in computer language, and sewed it into the image of the dress.”

      Reply
      1. Mikel

        Because the economy can only work for a few they are creating an imaginary, sandbox economy for people to play in.
        You know “post-industrial” …..

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        If I understand it, then, the NFT actually is the receipt, not the “work of art,” which can still be duplicated and distributed. So the owner has the original .jpg and the receipt is on a blockchain which means it can’t be altered, only a new receipt can be created when/if the current owner sells it, but then the old receipt still exists and cannot be expunged? I think this is just proof that there is way too much wealth sloshing among the 0.01% with nothing productive to do. According to the neoclassical economists it should be put to productive use, but there is far too much of it and the Fed is continuing massive QE. I guess it’s just as well I’m not an economist.

        Reply
        1. Lambert Strether Post author

          > If I understand it, then, the NFT actually is the receipt, not the “work of art”

          Exactly. I posted an article from one of the original developers of NFT software a couple of days ago, and they explain that in their software they stored a link to the artwork in the blockchain, instead of the artwork itself because of storage constraints. (Theoretically, the artwork being digital, it could have been stored in the blockchain, but the art was too damn big.) Then when NFTs became a thing, every single developer reproduced the original design, with the original flaw!

          The confusion between pointer and that which is pointed at is rife in human affairs and computer programming as well, and causes all sorts of subtle bugs. We see it in Ballot Marking Devices, where a pointer in the form of a QR code is what is counted — i.e., is the actual ballot — and is separate from that which is pointed at: The intent of the user as exemplified by a touch on a screen and a printed receipt (not counted, i.e. not a ballot!)

          Reply
  8. The Rev Kev

    “Jordanian intrigue points to outside meddling”

    An odd news item connected with this story is how an Israeli guy offered to send a jet to evacuate that detained Jordan prince’s family. The guy is a former Mossad intelligence agency officer so make of that what you will. Is there such a thing as a “former” intelligence agent? Seems that a few outside countries have their grubby mitts in this story but it may take time for it to come out-

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-offered-to-send-jet-to-evacuate-detained-jordan-princes-family-reports/

    Reply
  9. pebird

    The Intelligence Union serves a similar purpose to that of the recent White House marijuana questionnaire – which was not about drug use, but to see if you were so honest to actually answer, you couldn’t be trusted to lie.

    Similarly, the Intelligence Union is not about a union (which would be organized in actual secret) but is intended to measure naivety. Given the vast increase in intelligence human assets and contractors, traditional methods for sorting out loyalty are not scalable.

    Reply
    1. Estuary

      Assume all websites are honeypots until proven otherwise. Somebody is watching, just not necessarily who you think it is, along the routes from keyboard through wired or wireless connections all the way to eventual server(s).

      Reply
  10. dftbs

    Re: The Longest Telegram…

    If America is ever going to have a “comprehensive grand strategy against China”, the analysts and strategists are going to have to divorce themselves from their national theology. It seems every one of the “how to handle China” articles over the last few years begins with the obligatory thousand words about how big and shiny our democracy and values are, and how small and gross the Chinese system is. It’s almost as if the Deep State Pope requires 100 hundred Hail Mary’s before he’ll allow you to publish.

    The American system is unable to hold individuals in power to account for their crimes or failures; so it is difficult to imagine the intellectual faculties of this system having an honest moment of self-reflection, much less being able to indict itself for its own inadequacies and failures. But any effective strategy needs to have a honest accounting of our historical inadequacies and present capacities.

    It is possible that the authors of these pieces don’t believe we have any historical inadequacies, nor limits on our present capacities. That all that is needed is a rallying around the ideas and methods that brought us to this situation in the first place. In which case they are like cheerleaders before the team goes on the field. We should ignore them on their quest to fill their word count quotas.

    A strategy needs to begin with an honest accounting for how we got here (and perhaps the modern American equivalent of Sepuku for those that brought us here).

    It needs do define clear material national goals and interests, none of this “rule based order” crap. Otherwise you’ll do stupid things like “Ally with allies”, without defined goals how do you even know who your allies are.

    You can’t “rethink globalization” if you don’t have an understanding of why globalization developed as it did. American elites didn’t outsource manufacturing to China simply to take advantage of lower production costs. The other side of the coin was to active destruction of American labor. So for the Masters of the Universe bringing back the jobs isn’t as simple as re-opening the factories; they would also have to return some portion of the economic surplus (if there is any) to labor, nothing in their actions shows they will allow that.

    It should ignore doubling down on bad strategy like “become more supreme militarily,” As if all that military supremacy is helping now. Every national defense dollar has a diminishing return on investment, its quite possible that at this point each new dollar has a negative return, but that is another longer discussion.

    Similarly it should avoid the diminishing return on propaganda (I know that’s hard to do, as propagandists have mortgages). If all we are going to do is rename the development system that has (mis-) governed the world for the better part of 70 years the BSI to show a contrast with the Chinese BRI, we should just have Biden go to the UN and drop trou, this is embarrassing. We shouldn’t assume the BRI is motivated by the same extractive motivations that underlie our development system; we shouldn’t assume the Chinese are trying to emulate our failure. Rather let’s identify how their development model is different and emulate their success.

    We should also recognize that our competitors have agency, they aren’t waiting for our responses. I would dare say if Chinese actions demonstrate anything, is their lack of concern for what we think. The most terrifying thing for our nomenklatura is not that the Chinese are hell-bent on defeating the US; but that the Chinese are more than happy to ignore us. We are like some playground bully that is angry, not because our victim can fight back; rather because he got to puberty before us, and is now interested in girls. We have been left on the monkey bars of history.

    Reply
    1. pjay

      There are a lot of great lines in this long piece. This one might be my favorite:

      “As idealists possessed by a deep faith in the inherent goodness of human nature, Nixon and Kissinger assumed that the universal desire for freedom, coupled with integration into the global economy, would inevitably induce China to transform itself into a country more or less identical to our own.”

      Lines like that – and the date of the article – do provide a few very subtle hints at its underlying message. But I still think it could be republished as is in Foreign Affairs, with the author getting some looks for a mid-level position in the Biden administration.

      Reply
      1. Susan the other

        Yesterday’s link to Jamie Galbraith. He described “China’s economic ethos (which) prizes not profit maximization but social stability and steady production growth and cost reductions through learning new technologies.” But then again, I don’t count Richard Nixon among the subsequent enthusiasts for neoliberalism.

        Reply
      2. Mikel

        OMG! That’s the bit of world class delusion that almost made me throw my phone when I read it too.
        “Countries that have McDonald’s don’t go to war…”
        None of this ideological handwringing has anything to do with anything but corporate profit reigning supreme. Can’t have people not kow-towing to corporate supremacy.

        Reply
    2. Worf's Prune Juice

      About halfway through this article I was wondering why it was posted here – just seemed like the typical America=good and China=bad BS. But once he started talking about Alpha Centauri and the North China Sea its parodic nature became clear. Not exactly sure what the point was nevertheless. I did like this line though:

      “With its continental economy and cutting-edge technological prowess, Beijing threatens to seep into the nooks and crannies of the liberal international order like butter on an English muffin — clogging the arteries of freedom with the cholesterol of communism and corruption.”

      Far too many people would take that seriously. I almost ruined by computer monitor with a spit take but thankfully was just able to avoid it.

      Reply
      1. lyman alpha blob

        This had me busting a gut –

        One country above all others, however, represents the skeleton key that will unlock the fate of the future: India. As an Asian giant in its own right and a fellow democracy, New Delhi has a unique capacity to work with the United States to preserve a favorable balance of power from the western Pacific to the Swahili Coast of Africa. In many respects, the emerging struggle about the shape of world order is likely to come down to a choice between the aforementioned Sino-Asian Millennium (SAM) led by Beijing, on the one side, versus an Indo-American Millennium (IAM) piloted by the world’s two largest democracies, on the other. In this contest of SAM-IAM, Washington must make clear not only what it is for, but also what it is against: dictatorship, coercion, poverty, corruption, green eggs, and ham.

        Reply
    3. Retaj

      The first half of the Longest Telegram… was an interesting overview of U.S. policy towards China and homage to the Deep State Pope. I needed to read some wonky foreign policy drivel. However, my eyes were starting to glaze over.

      Then some of the points started creeping up. The strategic importance of the North China Sea through which 40% of tandem kayaks transit. A Belt and Suspenders initiative to defeat the Belt and Roads Initiative. The Supreme Military strategies like Crouching Panda/Sleepy Eagle. And the invincible but scrappy Responsible Retaliation/Demolition Derby (R2D2).

      The War on Rocks still has me questioning whether what I just read was satire. Bravo.

      Reply
      1. Kengferno

        Best line I’ve read in years:

        Beijing threatens to seep into the nooks and crannies of the liberal international order like butter on an English muffin — clogging the arteries of freedom with the cholesterol of communism and corruption.

        Worthy of The Onion! Bravo!

        April fools, but soooo close to real…

        Reply
        1. Kael

          Extremely droll:

          This united front draws together everyone from the most progressive Democrats, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (“AOC”), to the most conservative Republicans, like Sen. Ron Johnson (“RoJo”). Such bipartisan unanimity is deeply encouraging. Indeed, from the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution to the 2002 Iraq War Authorization for Use of Military Force, history teaches us that when such an overwhelming foreign policy consensus emerges in Washington, it is invariably vindicated by subsequent events.

          Reply
    4. Cat Burglar

      The first telegram was tragedy…and not only is the second one farce, it is pretty close to what the blob really believes.

      Reply
      1. Alex Cox

        Yet the Longest Telegram features one brilliant idea – give every American school child a world atlas!

        Reply
  11. The Rev Kev

    “Turkey’s Canal Istanbul dispute explained”

    From that article-

    ‘The Montreux Convention regulates the use of the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits – which link the Black Sea to the Mediterranean Sea – for cargo ships from other countries. The treaty also grants Turkey rule over the waterways and peacetime guarantees for access for civilian vessels. According to the text, the passages of war vessels through the straits are subject to restrictions that vary depending on whether they belong to countries with coasts along the Black Sea or not.’

    So what this means is that Erdogan wants to build a new canal and say that the Montreux Convention will not apply to it. And that means that NATO could use it to send a fleet in if they wanted to instead of being restricted at the moment by that Convention. No wonder those admirals were protesting this idea. In case of a military action against Russia, Russia will now target BOTH canals with god knows what and the Convention which protected Turkey in the past will no longer apply.

    But why would Erdogan do this? I was reading how NATO forces want to align themselves with Turkey and its ambitions to further their own agenda. And Turkey wants to extend its borders into Syria, Iraq, Crimea, Iran and elsewhere – including China. Anywhere you will find Turkic people. As an example, the Uighur are a Turkic people and the Turks brought thousands of them into Syria to receive military training and combat experience. Now why would that be? Readers, by the way, are invited to compare the Uighur flag with the Turkish flag as a matter of interest. Good thing for Erdogan and Turkey that there will never be any blowback over this.

    Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Rumour has it that in 2014, Erdogan was readying two planeloads of Syrian “rebels” to fly in and help their Tartar brothers put down the rebellion in the Crimea – until the Russian forces shut down the airports that is. After all, before Russia took it over, Crimea was part of the Ottoman Empire as a protectorate known as the Crimean Khanate.

        Reply
  12. Big River Bandido

    Re: The Longest Telegram

    At several points, I honestly was wondering if this shoddy piece of work was satire. I was disturbed to conclude that no, C. Lee Shea has written the most blinkered, delusional piece I’ve read since…well, since last month when NC ran a piece from the Council on Foreign Affairs. To wit: these people have lost all sense of reality.

    A few golden Hits for the Tone Deaf, starting with the Communist Boogeyman:

    Beijing threatens to seep into the nooks and crannies of the liberal international order like butter on an English muffin — clogging the arteries of freedom with the cholesterol of communism and corruption.

    The Blob would be nowhere without public hysteria to feed it.

    Exceptionalism:

    the Chinese system is burdened with debilitating contradictions and crippling weaknesses. Its economy is riddled with corruption.

    the subsequent failure of the Chinese Communist Party to embrace a multi-party democracy as efficient as America’s own

    mm hmm

    Grandiosity and the New Illiteracy

    the idealism of Reagan, the pragmatism of Truman, the breadth of Taft, the warmth of Coolidge, the concision of William Henry Harrison, and the teeth of Teddy Roosevelt.

    I’m not sure what an Indian fighter from the 1820s who served 29 days as President has to do with the modern security state. But I suppose you could say that a one-month administration was “concise”.

    “Self-Reflection”

    To make matters worse, in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, the United States needlessly threw itself into the quagmire of the Middle East. The fight against Islamist extremism has proved to be a long, unnecessary distraction for American power. In hindsight, it is clear that … the United States should have responded to the menace of al-Qaeda by focusing on the real problem: China. Sadly, instead of launching an amphibious assault on Fujian, Washington wasted blood and treasure trying to thwart further catastrophic terrorist attacks on the American homeland.

    Let us remember first that the American invasions of the Middle East — the biggest policy failure in American history — were brought to us by people like Shea. Accordingly, he cannot acknowledge the establishment’s fail here, so he strips his critique of all agency (“Washington wasted blood”) and glosses over “how we got there“.

    As it happens, however, by a remarkable coincidence, the best template for organizing American thinking about the emerging contest with Beijing happens to be the one with which everyone in Washington is already instinctively familiar: the Cold War.

    Because that worked out so well.

    General point: it’s amazing how much emphasis the writer places on “hard power”, when that policy has been shown to be a failure — but also when the horses have left the barn. Again referencing a piece that appeared in NC a few weeks ago — a nation dependent upon other countries for its supply of titanium sponge will, in short order, lose its military edge (or at the very least, its air force). Shea doesn’t really appear to be “doubling down” on this failed view — I don’t perceive any awareness in this writing that the view itself is a warped view of reality.

    Here’s the real whopper, though:

    Therefore, it is time for leaders in Washington to level with the American people and finally tell them the full, unvarnished truth: namely, that everything is China’s fault and that, by standing up to Beijing, we will soon be able to bring back good-paying blue-collar jobs in new steel mills and textile factories across America.

    This piece perfectly outlines the views of the very people who got us into this mess in the first place. These people shouldn’t be running a filling station, much less the US foreign policy establishment.

    Reply
    1. a different chris

      Wow that was just…wow. I also just cannot wrap my head around the fact that it is *not* satire. From the guy’s name with the pretentious first initial to his bonkers list of the virtues of our supposedly great leaders (Coolidge was famous for his warmth? WTF?) .

      I can’t even sort this out from any viewpoint: the United States should have responded to the menace of al-Qaeda by focusing on the real problem: China.

      So I should respond to A by attacking the completely unrelated in any comprehensible way “B”? It makes no sense if I think A is a serious issue. If I don’t think A is a serious issue yes it would make sense, but I then wouldn’t have labeled it with the term “menace”.

      Arrgh, no. This has to be satire, I’m with pjay above. Or even better, this guy medicates himself like nobody since Hunter Thompson.
      I mean, c’mon man:

      America needs to develop bold new war-fighting concepts of its own, such as accessible access/deniable denial (A2D2); Crouching Panda/Sleepy Eagle (CPSE); Flying Lotus/Downward Dog (FLDD); and Responsible Retaliation/Demolition Derby (R2D2).

      Sleepy Eagle?

      Reply
      1. Petter

        >Coolidge known for his warmth
        Dorothy Parker, when informed that Coolidge had died responded “How can they tell?”

        Reply
    2. Janie

      Notice the dateline, to which Lambert called attention, for The Longest Telegram. As an aside, for a diversion into social anthropology, check out Horace Miner’s article on the Nacerima in the April issue of the professional magazine. Because of the author and source, it provoked serious discussion and into at least the eighties was handed out without comment in anthro classes as a sort of test.

      Reply
      1. Big River Bandido

        I just checked out Miner’s piece which was new to me. I find it not as subtle. The “Po-To-Mac” and the cherry tree references are a little too obvious — as soon as I saw those, I scanned back and recognized “notgnihsaw”. And that was only the second paragraph.

        Reply
    3. RockHard

      “debilitating contradictions and crippling weaknesses. Its economy is riddled with corruption.” You’d almost think this person was talking about the USA.

      Edit: yeah, just noticed Janie’s mention of the Nacerima. My middle school social studies class got hit with that one.

      Also, LOL at “the breadth of Taft”. Nice touch.

      Reply
    4. Randy G

      The C. Lee Shea stuff is definitely parody. The fact that it is hard for intelligent and informed readers to discern whether it is a serious presentation from a of DC “think tank” or not — tells you all you need to know about the Kool-Aid currently proffered by alleged foreign policy experts in the US of Amnesia.

      Today is my first encounter with this Shea ‘guy’ but he appears to have a track record of parody and satire:

      “The United States has similarly fallen behind in the technological dimension. China, outrageously, is using free markets to invest capital in promising companies and applying the resulting technology at home. Russia, meanwhile, has weaponized social media to spread disinformation and sow dissension, disrupting the broad, bipartisan consensus in America on issues like race, guns, abortion, taxes, health care and Supreme Court justices. Indeed, it’s unfathomable that five decades ago the United States could have been convulsed by the kinds of divisions that characterize our country today. If America had not in 1968-69 demonstrated its characteristic unity of thought and action, it never would have gone on to prevail in the Cold War.”

      Could be mocking Victor Davis Hanson in this piece but bloated targets are abundant. Could be husband and wife warmongers Kagan & Nuland — both very keen to start a war in Ukraine on the Russian border ASAP. Could be Blinken or Maddow or every overpaid propagandist on CNN.

      https://warontherocks.com/2019/04/from-athens-to-ai-the-return-of-history-the-revenge-of-rivalry-and-the-resurgence-of-great-power-competition/

      Reply
    5. Big River Bandido

      Just checking back after a long day of work and realized that I’ve been punked. Should have paid more attention to the date. Gotta say, this is the first April Fools’ prank I’ve ever fallen for — on the 6th. The name formatting thing is news to me, so “C. Lee Shea” didn’t even register. (How is that a thing, anyway…?)

      Now that I’m re-reading the piece as satire, it *is* quite funny. All the lines that I attributed to stupidity stand revealed, along with my own — ah well, the best satire always cuts very close to the truth.

      Vis-a-vis another piece linked to on NC recently, the Republicans and establishment Democrats use a caricature version of socialism as a “straw man” to attack the real thing. Any political candidate who wants to attack the foreign policy establishment could adapt that same tactic and use *this piece* as the basis for a “straw man” critique. Well-delivered, it could have potent effect.

      Reply
  13. Userfract

    “As idealists possessed by a deep faith in the inherent goodness of human nature, Nixon and Kissinger…” LOL, What?! I’m not sure that the Cambodians would agree that this is what those two are renowned for.

    Reply
  14. The Rev Kev

    “‘The Narrative Is, “You Can’t Get Ahead”’

    ‘In Evanston, Illinois, a Black parent and school-board candidate takes on a curriculum meant to combat racism.’

    I think that this women gets it. That it is really a matter of class rather than racism. But for a lot of professionals, this is a message that they will resist to the bitter death. But not all mind. At the bottom of this article is a link to ‘Viewpoints from other candidates in the school-board election referenced in this interview can be found here.’ It is a mixed bunch of viewpoints and well worth the read-

    https://evanstonroundtable.com/2021/03/20/d65-board-candidates-give-views-on-reopening-schools-structural-deficit-and-more/

    Reply
    1. Alfred

      I liked this also. I was recently kicked out of a blog I will not mention for bringing this up, unfortunately and gauchely during one of the exclusive pity parties held there all the time. Woke a restively sleeping beast.

      Reply
  15. a different chris

    > And in a twist of irony, the accused person, Matt Gaetz, is one of the few colleagues who came to my defense when it happened to me.

    I see Katie Hill doesn’t understand the word “irony” any better than the much more famous Ms. Morrisette.

    Reply
  16. montanamaven

    In yesterday’s water cooler there was a story and link to the 60 Minutes takedown of Governor Ron De Santis linking a campaign contribution to Publix grocery stores being used for Covid vaccinations. But the piece was heavily edited. I didn’t see any discussion of it yesterday. Here is a link to a Yahoo story on the “60 Minutes” piece. 60 minutes edited De Santis explanation

    Reply
    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Gaaaah. So 60 minutes and WaPo are into fabrication (not to mention a long history at the New York Times). It’s so, so tiring.

      Granted, this is the National Review, but a transcript is not the sort of thing they get wrong.

      Reply
  17. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The zombie economy and digital arm-breakers Cory Doctorow, Pluralistic

    Another highly skilled profession gets thrown on the junk pile of jobs that are never coming back–Repo Man.

    “Friendly reminder to make your payments this month!”

    “I have a friend who is a repo agent. Tesla hired him to get this car. The whole process was pretty cool, Tesla located the car through GPS, backed it out of a parking stall, unlocked and honked it (all remotely) to make it easier for my friend to hook it up. They mentioned once FSD is better, they’ll probably just have the cars drive themselves back to Tesla in this situation. Technology is amazing.”

    Can’t say that people who call these computers on wheels “cars” don’t deserve it.

    Reply
    1. RockHard

      Also has links to a story about Invitation Homes.

      Obama’s loan-shark bailout and the eviction crisis let the architects of subprime buy up whole towns’ worth of homes and turn them into hugely profitable slums: high-rent, low-quality deathtraps.

      My nephew rents a place with 3 other roommates. They have myriad maintenance issues but the most pressing is the squirrels inhabiting the attic. Can’t get the owner to do anything about it. Guess who the owner is?

      Reply
    2. Jeremy Grimm

      This link is a chilling read. Imagine a large truly desparate population beyond any sense of good and evil. Now imagine our cities after the full force of the wave of evictions and foreclosures crests.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        Many of us at the edge of “The Lower Depths” here in the North American Deep South are indeed ‘imagining’ such a scenario, and preparing for it to become manifest.
        I’m wondering if the recent dearth of comments about “The Jackpot” is related to the distinct possibility that we are living through the beginning of same.
        (Calling a disaster a ‘conspiracy theory’ does not make it go away. That is the essence of “magical thinking.”)

        Reply
    3. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Tesla located the car through GPS, backed it out of a parking stall, unlocked and honked it (all remotely) to make it easier for my friend to hook it up. They mentioned once FSD is better, they’ll probably just have the cars drive themselves back to Tesla in this situation

      Ha ha. So that’s the use case for robot cars: Repo! Tell me it’s not a great country….

      Reply
    1. Petter

      Can’t find the link, sort of sure but not 100% sure, but thought I read Russia was planning to invade Finland again.

      Reply
  18. antidlc

    Interviews on the news last night re: sold out Rangers game.

    Granted, it was just a couple of people who were interviewed.

    The people who were interviewed said they felt “safe” going to the Rangers game because they were vaccinated. One also mentioned that since they would be outdoors, they would be OK. (Hope they didn’t have to use the restroom.)

    From my own experience, I had to explain to a family member that going to a restaurant for Easter was probably not a good idea even though said family member was vaccinated.

    Response was, “Well, I’ve been vaccinated.” I tried to inform said family member that large groups should really be avoided (like going to a restaurant on Easter).

    Response was, “Well, I’M GOING.” (very emphatic)

    I think people have this feeling of invulnerability once they have been vaccinated and either don’t understand or just don’t want to hear about the risks of going out in large groups.

    I really think there are a lot of people who think their lives can return to “normal” once they’ve been vaccinated and they can resume their pre-pandemic activities and go back to doing whatever they want. I don’t think they understand (or just choose to ignore) the risks that we still face.

    My two cents.

    Reply
    1. IM Doc

      I must add that last night was a real epiphany for me with my Facebook friends.

      I have quite a few physician contacts in the DFW area. Some of them have been repeatedly on Facebook loud and proud since December, showing off all their lovely masking efforts, putting up videos to shame and humiliate social distancing scofflaws, showing themselves getting the vaccines, shouting down anyone in their comments asking legitimate questions about safety and efficacy. You get the point and probably have your own to follow.

      Yesterday evening right before bed I glanced over my Facebook feed. There were two of these self-same physicians at that game. No masks, hugging others around them and they were proudly posting these pics. When confronted about the fact that indeed masks and social distancing were supposed to be employed at that game by commenters ( their own family members and in one case an actual patient) , the commenters were loudly screeched down – WE ARE VACCINATED – BUG OFF! GO GET VACCINATED, DULLARD- and THEN YOU CAN HAVE FUN TOO! – Those are not exact words – but that was the general message.

      I want no one to have the impression that I feel it is just our national medical leaders who have exhibited issues during this pandemic. I have come to realize that my profession is slowly but surely taking up almost cult-like behavior. And actually believing it. I am waiting to see who will be the Jim Jones figure that blows it all up.

      2 thoughts that kept going through my mind as I was going to sleep last night –

      I know personally the old professors who trained these people and they would be hanging their head in shame. I really do not fit into this old world anymore.

      More importantly –
      I hope this all works out with the vaccines the way they believe it will and that we are all hoping. If not, GOD HELP US!

      Reply
      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > WE ARE VACCINATED – BUG OFF! GO GET VACCINATED, DULLARD- and THEN YOU CAN HAVE FUN TOO!

        Well, if that’s the baseline, and it’s a pretty low baseline, the vaccination numbers should keep steadily rising, hopefully outrunning the variants. And one has to admit that, stupid as “you can have fun” might seem to an introvert like me, peer pressure will result from it, and cut down on the hesitancy.

        Reply
        1. IM Doc

          Again, I am hoping that these early good-looking numbers will hold and also hold up with the variants. I would just not be so cocky and arrogant about this type of thing.

          Reply
          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            No, neither would I, but if previously hesitant Joe Sixpack gets vaccinated because he wants to have a few beers with his friends, I’ll take the win. Perhaps, also, the great unwashed are showing us a better form of messaging than weeping or shaming.

            Reply
  19. Janie

    Notice the dateline, to which Lambert called attention, for The Longest Telegram. As an aside, for a diversion into social anthropology, check out Horace Miner’s article on the Nacerima in the April issue of the professional magazine. Because of the author and source, it provoked serious discussion and into at least the eighties was handed out without comment in anthro classes as a sort of test.

    Reply
  20. cocomaan

    https://ritholtz.com/2021/04/demise-of-the-dollar/

    Appreciated this “Demise of the Dollar” article.

    Lots of bitcoin pumpers and others talking about the unprecedented Fed intervention, the immediate demise of the dollar, and so on, without realizing that the rest of the world is just as dysfunctional.

    And yes, the Fed has taken extraordinary intervention into the economy. Which is what they do. They exist to prop up the financial sector, despite the marketing about full employment and all that nonsense.

    Reply
    1. Susan the other

      Yes. I like Ritholtz too. He sees the chaos but he isn’t panicked. His take on crypto is refreshing. He states the obvious – that crypto isn’t a useful medium of exchange, but he thinks it’s a good place for all the extra dollars to go. Sounds like a big holding company the way he explains it. Why not? Like just another brand of runway foam. Makes me far less worried about the security of sovereign money.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        As long as all the excess dollars which go to crypto go there to die, then its okay.

        Maybe that will be crypto-currency’s long term benefit to society . . . . as a darwin roach motel for the people who invest in crypto or derivatives about crypto.

        Reply
  21. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    The statement that “America Has a Ruling Class”, is hardly a revelation, as it it can most probably be safely assumed that every country has its own privileged, ruling class based on lust for money, lust for power, and a network of individuals sharing similar ideological/political/economic/moral beliefs/myths that define the divide between those with power and the powerless. History suggests that the observation qua observation is little more than a platitude. Perhaps the hoi polloi need to be reminded of that trivial fact, every so often, in a safe non-threatening manner, as a means to reinforce that reality that is the social order of things.

    The American case is documented here:

    https://whorulesamerica.ucsc.edu/

    And here:

    https://thirdworldtraveler.com/Trilateralism/JimmyCarter_Trilat.html

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      It is counter to the common dogma taught in schools, however. And it is said that none are more enslaved than those who believe they are free. Given the venue in which that statement appears, it seems more of a reminder of the aristocratic bourgeois class interest and their common obligations to it. If the PMC become every person for themselves, the class itself is lost.

      Reply
      1. ambrit

        My second hand observation of one ‘corner’ of the PMC is that the “every being for itself” ethos has already taken hold. The manner in which Proper Professors and Adjunct Professors are treated is educational, to say the least.
        We are now seeing a more ‘intense’ stratification of the PMC class. My example is the group of four year degreed “professionals” who work in the local Federal “services” phone bank warren. A four year degree gets these people just shy of $12.00 USD per hour, with, as far as I have been able to ascertain, minimal benefits. When you encounter these people shopping in the local WalMart, which can often be done after their knock off time in the afternoon, they are dressed “professionally,” as in overdressed for the neighbourhood.

        Reply
        1. ambrit

          Addendum: The ‘local’ call bank is now known as “Maximus.” It was originally General Dynamics. Maximus bought out General Dynamic’s call centre business in 2018.
          See: https://washingtontechnology.com/blogs/editors-notebook/2018/10/gdit-divest-maximus-deal.aspx
          Look at the subsidiaries of General Dynamics ye mighty and despair! The latest list I could find.
          See: https://www.sec.gov/Archives/edgar/data/40533/000004053319000010/ex21-20181231.htm
          One of those ‘underling corporations’ is Magnus, which specializes in “student medical records.” How discrete!
          See: https://magnushealth.com/

          Reply
            1. ambrit

              I think it is a displaced penis envy mechanism; as in Maximus, the character played by Russell Crowe in the film “Gladiator.”
              I looked at some of the anecdota in the comments about working for Maximus on Indeed. A litany of horrors and the worst of in-group and cliquism associated behaviours. The managers there look to be abusing their authority for petty ends.

              Reply
          1. ambrit

            There are so many stressors involved in living the PMC life that I doubt if even the canniest of pedagogues can manage them all. It all boils down to ego. Status supports weak ego, so does wealth, and notoriety, and the whole congeries of social messaging mechanisms.
            The phrase, “Go woke, go broke” perfectly encapsulates today’s PMC dilemma. What else does being ‘Woke’ denote but being morally and intellectually bankrupt?

            Reply
  22. Petter

    Osterholm is reporting on it, the Lancet via a Bergen study is reporting it, the daily newspapers here in Norway are reporting on it. Children do get infected and are spreading it. Almost every day a story about new infections at day care centers and primary schools.
    And the subject of social distancing and the two meter rule. A week ago the the municipal health official in Haugesund municipality asked the Norwegian National Institute of Public Health (FHI) to clarify the social distancing recommendations. Haugesund has seen a rise in infections and the health official felt that the two meter distance rule and less than fifteen minutes of contact did not protect one from being infected, especially given the new variants. He meant that social distancing, meaning ,not sharing air, was of critical importance. The FHI replied that they followed the European ECDC recommendations, which state that if one is in close contact (less than two metres) with an infected person for more than fifteen minutes one must assume that one is infected but would revise recommendations as new evidence comes in.
    Great, hide behind the EDCD. I feel like sending the FHI the Guardian article on the mysterious case in New Zealand where two people who had no contact still infected each other. It’s the was it the dustbin(?) mysterious infection in New Zealand case. Or if not the Guardian article, this one from Wired.
    https://www.wired.co.uk/article/new-zealand-zero-covid-transmission
    Now if I know about this, why not the Norwegian FHI. And if they do, and they must, WTF?
    In the last issue of Morgenbladet, the weekly newspaper “politics, culture and research”, there is an an article on Facebook censorship and COVID. The author makes the point that if FHI was to post on Facebook the advice they gave the Norwegian people last March now, they would be banned. A quote from March 2020:
    “Using a face mask when there is a virus is “a cultural thing in parts of Asia”, said chief physician Preben Aavitsland at the National Institute of Public Health. “There is no good evidence that it has anything to do with it.”

    And the beat goes on.

    Reply
    1. Cuibono

      and still Norways numbers of deaths per million are less than 1/15th the US. I’ll take whatever they are smoking

      Reply
      1. Petter

        Right, I should chill out, everything is relative. As we say in Norway, “vi hat det godt.” We have it good. Still I sometimes think I’m the film The Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the original, not the remake.)
        As for what we’re smoking, under the new proposed drug reform, the police will still confiscate your non criminalized stash and instead of a fine, you’ll be mandated to see a drug counselor.

        Reply
    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Osterholm is reporting on it, the Lancet via a Bergen study is reporting it, the daily newspapers here in Norway are reporting on it. Children do get infected and are spreading it. Almost every day a story about new infections at day care centers and primary schools.

      Plus Montreal and Toronto in Canada, with school closures.

      Reply
  23. juno mas

    RE: Chocolate’s Secret Ingredient

    The stop-your-heart revelation in the article is that chocolate doesn’t contain health advancing polyphenols at the human consumption moment. While I regularly engage my sweet tooth with dark chocolate, it is now, definitively, NOT improving my heart health.

    Reply
  24. .Tom

    Re: @CT_Bergstrom’s What *is* herd immunity?

    The thread appears to talks about vaccination as though it prevents contagion. I had understood that the pfizer and moderna vaccines have not been developed or tested for this but rather to prevent those infected with the virus from developing the COVID-19 disease. In other words, if I am infected by the virus then I am much less likely to get sick or die if vaccinated than if not. Shouldn’t this distinction between preventing contagion and preventing disease important in Bergstrom’s arguments and calculations? Also, do we have data on how much the vaccines affect contagion?

    Reply
    1. Cuibono

      we have some data now on preventing asymptomatic infection. And a small data set from Scotland on household transmission that is rife with methodological flaws.
      an upcoming study on transmission in College age students.
      it is likely that transmission is decreased though highly unlikely IMO that it comes close to sterilizing immunity with current vaccines.

      Reply
  25. ChrisPacific

    Covid news here is that New Zealand and Australia have agreed on protocols for quarantine-free travel between the two countries, and plan to start in two weeks. It will be interesting to see how it goes. It requires complete segregation between the high-risk and low-risk travellers, so they will travel on separate planes, be physically separated at the airport, have separate airline staff that have not worked on high-risk flights for 14 days or more, and so on. (Even so, I predict there will be at least one case of cross-contamination). Both countries have demonstrated multiple times now that they can weather an outbreak and get things back under control, so it seems like the right time, but the first outbreak in either country is still likely to be a political challenge.

    Longer term, if this is successful and ends up extending to other elimination/control countries like Taiwan or Vietnam, I wonder if the world will bifurcate into ‘cold’ and ‘hot’ zones, each connected by their own travel lanes with different protocols. There is already concern here that if Americans settle on ignoring Covid or pretending it doesn’t exist (like they already do for so many other causes of preventable death) and go back to international business and travel as usual, countries taking a cautious approach may find themselves at an economic disadvantage in comparison.

    Reply
  26. John Anthony La Pietra

    Am I the only one who got the point of “The Longest Telegram” right off the bat? Or maybe I’m just the only one who was so tired before getting to that point that my brain didn’t insist on treating the three parts of the author’s name separately.

    Put ’em together and whaddaya got? . . .

    Reply
  27. JBird4049

    On the whole herd immunity thing and its supposed wonderfulness, the history of smallpox pops into my mind when hear it mention again. And again.

    IIRC, historically smallpox would hit a community every 10-15 kill roughly 20% of the population and leave. It would only hit after a certain density or number of unexposed, and therefor not immune, potential victims rose high enough for it to spread from person to person throughout the area.

    Of course. that threashhold consisted of the number of born and still alive children since the last epidemic…

    It was not just religion, certainly not stupidity, that European, and later American, families (tried to have) had very large families. Perhaps, the only real emotional difference in families from then to now was a greater tendency towards fatalism as well as a stronger belief in religion, God, and the afterlife. The grief, from what I understand, was just as strong. Of course, it was not just smallpox, as there were many other wonderfully lethal diseases.

    All this blather about getting herd immunity, aside from doctors explainations, just seems cold hearted or worse.

    Reply

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