Links 5/18/2021

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Photographer Snaps Bird Catching a Ride on Bigger Bird’s Stick PetaPixel (David L)

Groups Call for Reintroduction of Jaguars in US Southwest Associated Press (furzy)

That’s one big baby! Bottlenose dolphin adopts pilot whale calf StuffNZ (furzy)

Fish that predates dinosaurs found alive in Madagascar TimesNowNews (furzy)

‘Sightings all over the world.’ Another former federal official discusses UFOs, upcoming congressional report USA Today (Davld L)

Nuclear Reactions at Chernobyl Are Spiking in an Inaccessible Chamber NewScientist

Twenty firms produce 55% of world’s plastic waste, report reveals Guardian (David L)

Neuroscientists Have Followed a Thought as It Moves Through The Human Brain ScienceAlert (David L)

Mothers can influence offspring’s height, lifespan and disease risk through mitochondria

9 Fascinating Facts About Urine Mental Floss (Dr. Kevin)



World-first COVID-19 antiviral therapy developed in Brisbane and US targets virus in the body ABC Australia

Can you get Covid-19 twice? What reinfection cases really mean Bloomberg


Taiwan braces for worst yet Covid-19 outbreak Asia Times (Kevin W)


UK cases of Indian Covid variant almost doubled in four days, says Hancock Guardian (David L)

Disingenuous and slippery, Matt Hancock deflects blame for spread of India variant Guardian (Kevin W)


Governor Cuomo Announces New York State to Adopt New CDC Guidance on Mask Use and Social Distancing for Fully Vaccinated Individuals Governor NY. So Cuomo capitulated. A cynical NYC friend says this was due to other dirt on Cuomo, the latest being that he got a $5.1 million book deal as opposed to working on being governor.

CDC veteran Anne Schuchat to resign in second high-level departure from agency STAT

California Nurses’ Association pressuring the state to reject CDC’s mask guidance ABC30

L.A. County orders Trader Joe’s, other chains not to relax mask rules Los Angeles Times (Kevin W)

White House to send US-authorized vaccines overseas for first time The Hill

‘There’s no way I can pay for this:’ One of America’s largest hospital chains has been suing thousands of patients during the pandemic CNN (Kevin W)


Tech workers are getting ready to quit. This is what’s pushing them to leave their jobs TechRepublic (Kevin W)


China census: millions of ‘bare branch’ men locked out of marriage face cost of one-child policy South China Morning Post (resilc)

Apple’s Compromises in China: 5 Takeaways New York Times (David L)

Unmasking the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor CADTM (Micael T)

Microsoft’s LinkedIn Accused by Noted China Critic of Censorship Bloomberg

US ready to pull troops from Philippines ‘in months’ if no new VFA: expert South China Morning Post. Resilc thinks this is hot air.

Virgin CEO calls for open borders, even if ‘some people may die’ Sydney Morning Herald (Kevin W). You cannot make this up. Australia didn’t have enough potable water (even on an intermediate term trajectory) when its population was 20 million. And that’s before getting to it doesn’t get fair value for the water it exports in ag products.


Government concerned over hostile UK tone towards NI Protocol RTE (guurst)

Old Blighty

Jeremy Corbyn and the collapse of Britain’s Labour Party WSWS (Micael T)

‘Right royal pain in the a**’: Fox News’ Sean Hannity slams Harry for calling the First Amendment ‘bonkers’ and says ‘it allowed you and Meghan to accuse your family of racism’: Tells him he is free to leave the US Daily Mail. When Hannity makes sense….

New Cold War

Russia spy chief suggests West behind SolarWinds cyber-attack BBC


How realistic is a two-state solution? DW. Resilc: “Neither is the endless war.”

Refusing Erasure: Palestinian Resistance, Israel’s Hopeless Fury, and a Coming Cataclysm Antiwar (Kevin W)

Biden backs Middle East ceasefire in call with Netanyahu The Hill. How nice. And I’d like a pony. No evidence of any muscling, which we are in a position to do. Perhaps that is being done through channels, but I’m not holding my breath. Confirming the hypocrisy: For 3rd Time, US Blocks UN Security Council Statement Urging Gaza Ceasefire Antiwar (resilc)

United States withdraws from Afghanistan? Not really CADTM (Micael T)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Alexa/Echo Owners Become Part of Amazon’s Massive ‘Sidewalk’ Mesh Network By Default Inc.

Try This One Weird Trick Russian Hackers Hate Brian Krebs (Robert M)

Imperial Collapse Watch

Exclusive: Inside the Military’s Secret Undercover Army Newsweek. Important. Story alleges it operates domestically.

Autonomous war machines could make costly mistakes on future battlefields Popular Science. Resilc: “Lady’s bet on guys in sandals with ak47s.”

The U.S. Air Force Has Gotten Lazy—And Lazy Won’t Cut It In A War With China Forbes. Resilc: “Give us morrrrrrrrre monay.”


Trump signals he’s ready to get back in the game The Hill

Trump’s Space Force Commander Thinks Marxists Are Taking Over the Military Vice

Trump Voter Allegedly Murdered His Wife Then Cast Her Ballot for Trump Too Vice

Prosecutors Worried Giuliani Would Tamper With Witnesses, Evidence Business Insider (furzy)

Justices decline to give police more power to search homes without warrant The Hill (Kevin W)

Mississippi abortion: US Supreme Court to hear major abortion case BBC. I’ve said before that the women’s rights movement in the US made a huge mistake in not getting the right to an abortion codified into law, when they had the wind at their back in the 1970s. The compromise that prevailed in most other advanced economies was limiting the right to an abortion to the first trimester.

Supreme Court pulls Biden into an abortion fight he didn’t want Politico. Um, what about separation of powers don’t you understand? Biden can’t influence the Court and he doesn’t have the votes to pass any new laws. So as much as I am no Biden fan, why is this presumed to be on his desk?

Our Famously Free Press

Biden just revoked Trump’s unconstitutional executive order censoring free speech. But Biden himself should be careful with Section 230. Fight for the Future

Apple Wants You To Know It Chose Not To Take a Cut of $400 Billion in Physical Goods The Verge

Airline passengers may have to get weighed before boarding New York Daily News (BC)

Bob Baffert, trainer of Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit, suspended from entering Belmont Stakes CNBC

Elon Musk’s Bitcoin Fun Continues Bloomberg

The Idea That Deficit Spending Is a Burden on Our Children Is the Dumbest Propaganda Intercept (furzy)

Class Warfare

The Ultimate Stimulus: Now More Than Ever YouTube:

The show is a 37-minute argument given by fictitious economist Amanda McCloud. She’s hell bent on convincing the world that the only true solution to wealth inequality are master-concubine relationships (with a modern twist).

Amazon’s New ‘AmaZen’ Program Will Show Warehouse Workers Meditation Videos Vice (resilc)

Antidote du jour. From Austin M (go beekeepers!)

I am a beekeeper in the great black Swamp/Maumee river valley region of NW Ohio and we have been catching a lot of swarms lately.

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. zagonostra

    Neuroscientists Have Followed a Thought as It Moves Through The Human Brain – ScienceAlert

    The “movement of electrical activity” should not be conflated with “the movement of a thought.” The molecular composition of a diamond does not capture its “symbolic” meaning. A diamond on a drilling bit or your betrothed’s finger are different (though both may digging for gold).

  2. John Siman

    “Another former federal official,” we read in USA Today, “is acknowledging the possible existence of UFOs….” My only question is whether the UFOs are piloted by crafty Chinese Communists, or by Putin-based Russian troll-bots, or by vaccine-hesitant cisheteronormative American White Supremacists — or by Donald Trump himself.

    No, my actual question concerns the unprecedentedly extreme degree of ridiculousness that the newest generation of official propaganda takes. What is the official thinking here? Is it perhaps that the more absurd official lies are, the more likely they will be to generate the kind of mass hysteria that can be fixed only by increased mass deference to official power?

    1. Synoia

      It was a male brain, and the thought was “She’s Hot.”

      We all know that’s true, because us men are only capable of one thought at a time.

  3. Cocomaan

    Re: Mississippi abortion case

    So as much as I am no Biden fan, why is this presumed to be on his desk?

    Probably because of his proposed study on court stacking. Biden will be under pressure to “do something” about the scotus.

    You’re absolutely right that the current abortion protections is based on shaky precedent when it could be based on a passed law. But roe v Wade is now part of the Democrat pantheon.

    For politico, it’s got to be time for Biden’s court stacking study to release their results. Something middling. Won’t be decisive but enough to suggest that if Biden isn’t satisfied with the court he might “investigate” legal means of stacking. That will put pressure on the supremes to not take on Roe v Wade.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      There is no way Biden can pack the court. Pelosi already nixed it, presumably based on the anticipation that 1. She didn’t have the votes and 2. The attempt would cost the Dems seats they would not otherwise lose.

      However, I agree this will lead to another round of noise-making.

    1. Baby Gerald

      This is the second article the Grey Lady has run on this theme. While this is an opinion piece, the story that ran yesterday entitled Violence in Israel Shake’s Trump’s Boast of ‘New Middle East’ was written by Michael Crowley. The memo has gone out, apparently.

      This agenda has a definite taste of like when right-wing outlets like Fox tried blaming Clinton for Afghanistan terrorist training camps and, thus, 9/11 and not the actual sitting president who preferred reading ‘My Pet Goat’ to the NatSec memos that warned of just such attacks.

  4. Toshiro_Mifune

    Tech workers are getting ready to quit. This is what’s pushing them to leave their jobs
    From the article;

    For employees looking elsewhere, Personio found that the most influential factors were a lack of career progression opportunities (29%) and a perceived lack of appreciation for the work they do (29%). This was followed by poor management (25%), a pay freeze or cut (23%), and boredom with their job (23%).

    The research also identified a disconnect between what employers felt would cause staff to quit and the reality. In particular, employers were found to “drastically underestimate” the impact of a toxic workplace culture on employees’ decisions to leave, with almost twice as many employees (21%) citing this as a significant push factor than HR leaders (12%).

    lack of career progression opportunities (29%) – E.G Money
    lack of appreciation for the work they do (29%) – E.G Money
    a pay freeze or cut (23%) – Once again, Money.

    I’m sure the under pay of IT staff wasn’t miscategorized as three separate things on purpose so no one has to acknowledge that fact. I’m also sure there are some people who would be happy with hugs from their boss so they know they’re appreciated. I prefer all my appreciation from employers to some in the form of greenbacks just so were both aware this is a purely transactional relationship and in no way do I view you as a friend/chum/etc.

    In particular, employers were found to “drastically underestimate” the impact of a toxic workplace culture on employees’ decisions to leave
    I see the HR dept can find a line in here to justify their continued existence; even more required soul crushing training sessions about toxic work places.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Yeah, about that “toxic workplace culture,” Matt Taibbi recently addressed that issue as only he can:

      Millennials had it worse. They attended the same academic resort spas, and were handed the same oft-preposterous degrees, but were additionally indoctrinated in affirming ideological oat-baths stressing the righteousness of their lived experiences. If the big surprise my generation faced was that our educations were worth bupkes to employers, the next generation had to deal with the shock of corporate bosses being indifferent to their emotional needs.

      Meaning, we’ve come full circle. After training generations of Americans to forego personal lives and work their brains to mush in service of bigger profits, corporate leaders are waking up to find their companies staffed by people so psychologically dependent upon validation from work that they’re a net minus from a production standpoint, forcing bosses to beg them to shut up, go home, and get lives. Not many modern Americans know how to do any of those things, however, as can be seen in cases like that of Garcia-Martinez, where 2,000 employees claimed to be literally incapable of sharing a vast corporate structure with someone who once wrote a book containing passages they might have disagreed with, if they’d actually read it.

      Apologies if this has been posted already, but it bears repeating IMNSHO.

    2. Cocomaan

      Often it’s HR who is reinforcing the toxicity. When I was a junior employee I remember uncovering an ethics problem by a senior employee and then being hazed for it in writing. When I brought it to HR they said that unless it was specifically about race or religion they had nothing to do with it.

      Later, after I fled, they fired the same guy for the ethics violation. His hazing and harassment was obviously because he was furious at being caught but HR didn’t even try to mediate a solution.

      1. Synoia

        HR – Human Resources, previously the Personnel Department – Always know as The Anti Personnel Department.”

        1. skippy

          HR was invented as a fire wall between the executive and the unwashed, both to hive off risk and negate unwanted feelings from the proximity to said unwashed ie. gets the art dirty.

    3. .Tom

      TechRepublic also presents HR managers’ underestimation of how much they suck relative to employees’ estimation as optimism. Uh huh.

    4. hunkerdown

      The word “hour” appears in that piece exactly 0 times. The survey failed to consider the possibility that professional work culture, writ larger than a single workplace, may be the problem. I wonder how much of that wanderlust conceals a desire to declass.

      I mean, it’s a native ad. One can’t expect an HR automation firm called “person I/O”, populated by those who design the machines to reject your CV for not being credentialed enough, to create knowledge that would undermine the social institutions and relations that rationalize that firm’s existence.

    5. Jeremy Grimm

      If there is any consolation in the chestnut “Misery loves company” you may be heartened to learn that the HR department in firm where I worked was one of the first departments outsourced. Of course this did little to dispell the HR enthusiasms for the firm’s all too openly stated policies glorifying the importance of employee fungibility. The firm was supposedly valued for the intelligence of the staff it provided. How did the firm believe we did not know what they thought of us?

      As for the link, I was disappointed by how thin the content.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Trump’s Space Force Commander Thinks Marxists Are Taking Over the Military”

    US Space Force also announces that they have identified their first Space Cadet.

    1. christofay

      US Space Force also very needed to cut the technology gap with the UFOs. e.g. Money

        1. ambrit

          I dunno. Adama’s GameStars wouldn’t accept my Quatloocoins without a Certificate of Authenticity. I for one refuse to be in thrall to GameStars.

    2. ambrit

      I speak from experience. There is a very large population of Proto Space Cadets available from which to choose.
      (Back in the Mauve Decade, we would have called such people “Angelic Divines.”)

  6. The Historian

    Lovely video of what ancient Rome looked like. Too bad it is mostly fantasy based on the private parks of emperors and the ultra wealthy of Rome at the time. The average person in Rome lived in a cramped apartment with no running water and no sewer system, with his work right outside his door. Living for the average person was cramped, dirty and smelly.

    I’m in the process of moving to another state and I’ve packed away my books so I can’t give you quotes from some people who lived in Rome at the time and who talked about the squalor and the horrific smells so this link is the best I can come up with right now.

    1. Toshiro_Mifune

      Also – Wouldn’t those sculptures in the video have been painted? Not sure if they did the same with the bas reliefs.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Those accounts – you may be perhaps thinking of “The Epigrams” by Martial or maybe “The Sixteen Satires” by Juvenal. Yeah, that video was on an idealized Rome but I cannot help but think of the people that lived there back then. They lived in the biggest, most powerful city in the world and had a high level of sophistication. Growing up there, it was the world. But in the end it all went away and a few centuries later you had goats feeding in the Forum. Can you imagine that happening to a London or Paris or Tokyo or New York City?

      1. The Historian

        Sadly it will happen. Maybe not in our lifetimes, but nothing goes on forever.

        The cities you mention are the havens of the ultra rich and it doesn’t take much understanding of history to realize that the ultra rich are destroyers and ultimately destroy even the edifices they build for themselves.

        1. hunkerdown

          Ain’t a danged thing wrong with goat mowers. Legendary semiconductor pioneer and HR antithesis Bob Widlar famously brought a sheep to work in protest against his employer’s lawn-mowing austerity.

          They had to destroy the instances of greatness in order to save the valorization of greatness as a social principle. They have no need to care about the loss; the people have been trained to respond to greatness and can be bullied into building another one. And so history, the grand narrative of human non-reciprocity, continues another day.

      2. Wukchumni

        Very little of what we have accomplished will be left standing a few thousand years from now, although it will appear to historians in 4036 that sometime around the 2nd millennium people increasingly seemed to worship totems in the guise of small dark rectangular monoliths, with the thinking being that devotees looked into the glass to see a mirror image of themselves, in what was thought to be a narcissistic cult that held sway all over the world simultaneously.

      3. NotTimothyGeithner

        Short of apocalyptic conditions, my sense is the latter day great cities are almost entities unto themselves, but Classical Rome was in reality the City of the Romans. SPQR, and when the Senate and Equestrians followed the Emperor it became a shadow. The DC metro area is another matter. It’s the region of defense contractors, lobbyists, and federal employees. The great cities you mentioned are more resilient to ebbs and flows and imperial policy changes than classical Rome was.

        1. The Historian

          The cities Rev Kev mentions are only centers of the universe right now because the ultra elite rule the economy and the governments. What will happen to these cities if neoliberalism falls under its own weight as I expect it will? Or do you think our economic system is all that resilient? I would remind you that the rising inequality and hence, the populism we are seeing these days points to the fact that it is not.

          Rome, Athens, Constantinople, Florence, etc., were once centers of the universe because the rich ruled the economic systems and the governments, yet they all over-reached and fell from their lofty positions. It will happen to the centers of the universe in our time too.

          Note that Rome, Athens, Constantinople, Florence, etc., still exist as cities, just no longer ruling cities.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I suspect Ancient Rome appeared much more like the Ancient Rome in Fellini’s “Satyricon”. The linked video has some well-done computer graphics. Is it from a new game that is coming out?

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Thanks much! My son is an avid gamer — although he’s been off-his-game for a little bit. I’ll let him know about Assassins Creed Alexandria. It appears very well-done visually. I hope the game play matches.

    4. Taurus

      Better sim here

      They used the ESRI city engine to add details to the volumes from the actual map. The density is better represented, although not the crowds.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Agree, this video is much better. I have walked much of this; I would live in Rome in a heartbeat!

  7. JTMcPhee

    On that “antiviral therapy” from Australia:

    Seems the funding for the “Medical Research Future Fund” that supported this research came from reducing the funding of public health measures like patient care:

    In the Australian federal budget, 2014 Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the Liberal-National Abbott Government’s commitment to build a $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund, in addition to existing funding through the National Health and Medical Research Council. Hockey predicted that the fund would, “within six years, be the biggest medical research endowment fund in the world” and announced that “all the savings from the introduction of a $7 Medicare co-contribution, modest changes to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme and other responsible changes in this Health Budget” would be directed to the fund until it reaches $20 billion.[2]

    The Senate blocked passage of the medical co-payment, but approved the establishment of the Medical Research Future Fund in August 2015, with funding to be found through reduced health spending and the Health and Hospitals Fund, until a balance of $20bn is reached in 2020. The Fund is managed by the Future Fund, with interest generated going to medical research, beginning with $10 million in 2015, growing to $390m over the following three years. So, a neoliberal triumph, eh? The conservatives found a way to “pay for it” by debasing their Medicare and hospitals. Quelle surprise.

    And of course the Future Fund turns out to be privately managed “sovereign wealth fund,” with fees and looting for all — a “fund of funds” with such an interesting history, as Banksters bid for the rights to collect rents on public money,

    Would be a nice trickle-down if this newly announced possible treatment works out. Once again, dependent on biological machines in the form of RNA interactors to effect the destruction of in vivo viruses… Nothing could go wrong… we hope…

  8. Eustachedesaintpierre

    A bit squeaky clean that video on ancient Rome – containing a lot of white marble statues which as was also the case with Greece were often painted in gaudy colours, as were the temples, columns etc. A state of affairs that would have freaked out the Neo-classicists & to a lesser extent I believe their Renaissance equivalents who thought that what was dug out of the ground was in keeping with what became the pure white ideal.

    I have a Dover book on figurative sculpture written in 1905 that is big on the above with Canova being the poster boy & phrenology getting quite lot of coverage – but it does contain some very good tips. It is no longer available in the Dover catalogue, likely because it would definitely freak out a very different audience to the one originally intended. I found it pretty offensive 30 years ago when I bought it.

    1. begob

      who thought that what was dug out of the ground was in keeping with what became the pure white ideal.

      I read recently a piece by Anthony Blunt on Michelangelo’s late tendency to leave his figures incomplete, halfway to emerging from the stone. Blunt’s understanding is that the sculptor adhered more severely to Neoplatonism as he grew older, and that to finish the figures was pointless because the idea within the stone could never be perfectly revealed. In that view, the painting of statues would add to the insult of imitation.

    2. enoughisenough

      That the stone sculptures and architecture were painted was known in the 19th century, when systemic excavations were being carried out. Especially by the later 19th century. Many neo-classical sculptors knew this. It seems not to have been known by Renaissance artists, though, so yeah, that’s where the reception of white marble began.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I believe there was a doctrine of Art pushed by several college art departments in recent times that argued how it is wrong to try to make a medium that which it is not instead of using it to the extent of that which it is — or something like that. It is wrong to make wood appear as stone, or stone appear as flesh and frocks. But be mollified … there is a slowly growing movement to reclaim the fuller breadth of Art possible through combining the capabilities and natures of many mediums. I recall hearing it called “mixed-media” which in my opinion greatly underestimates its potentials.

        Of course, for fantasy art the world can be however you might make it.

        1. enoughisenough

          yeah, I’m actually an art history professor (specialty Greece and Rome). What you’re talking about: a kind of purity of the medium, isn’t recent, by any means. Different art movements have had aspects of it through the centuries, but Modernism really pushed it.

          We still today have a penchant for it, meaning that ancient art is misunderstood sometimes, when we impose our own tastes on the the ancients.

          The ancients did not have this same aesthetic or theory at all. Ivory was also painted in the ancient Near East, Greece, and many other places. Sometimes even metal was painted, something purity-of-materials artists these days would be freaked out by. The idea of ancient statues being white unpainted marble sticks around, even though we know better, partly because of the modern predilection for purity of materials.

          These days in art history we discuss even the paint itself as material. I have a friend publishing a book on ancient color, where she goes into the concepts of color: there’s definitely a difference between pre-Newtonian and post-Newtonian concepts of color. These days we over-emphasize color as light, and neglect (even reject) the materiality of color.

          1. Jeremy Grimm

            Thankyou for adding to my limited knowledge of Art. I took several classes in Glass Art from a local junior college and wondered at the strange reluctance many students felt to mix glass with other media. The obsessive “purity of medium”, “purity of materials” becomes a weight too heavy when I create what little I do. I believe Art requires whatever media best or at least sufficiently well expresses whatever Art demands me to express. My own limited experiences have taught me that Art is an angry, demanding god with no sympathy for compromises.

            1. enoughisenough

              You brought up a really good point with the purity of materials thing, which a lot of Classics professors (text people, rather than art/archaeology people) don’t seem to understand, re. the white marble aesthetic of neoclassicism.

              I definitely agree that artists should be able to experiment with all kinds of media. Purity of materials is kind of cool, but way to restrictive to be a rule. At some level it is kind of just puritanism.

              There was a purity of medium movement (also modernist) in photography too. They were objecting to painterly style photos.


              Now of course people use all kinds of filters and digital enhancements. The adherence to the craft of a particular medium is really admirable, and deserves high respect, but at the same time, it shouldn’t be expected of everyone, especially if they want to experiment!

              Leonardo did, and even failed in his experiments: his Last Supper wasn’t a true fresco, he added oil paint into it, to try to get richer colors.

              And that caused it to immediately flake off upon drying. But props for putting himself out there and trying stuff, right? It’s a genius painting even if the mixed paint media didn’t work out.

              So I totally agree with you!

              1. skippy

                Lovely thread and appreciate the nuance on display.

                As someone that has made a living applying protective and ascetic coatings, to a wide variety of materials/substrates, I completely sympathize with the artistic subtleties of both colour and the material used to apply it.

                This is part of the human condition and transcends both master works of art right down to the back side of a toilet door facing the throne. Lighting both natural and incandescent, properties of the substrate and paint, countenanced by the many eyeballs that look at it. Heck their is a voluminous tomb just in plastering that deals with ratios and directions of light in what can and can not be achieved before any coating can be applied. Although I once was involved in a job in Pasadena Calif for an architectural RE job and it was like stepping on to the movie set of TRON for all the lasers deployed so the solid plasters could make the walls and ceilings reflect light correctly.

                I would add for a note of humor that I once had an argument with a corporate lawyer freshly back from an 8 year NYC stint back to Oz. Seems she took a liking to the upper east coast RE look and tried to replicate it here. Anyhoo she picked a popular colour at the time with the ladies in such social groups, hogs bristle quarter. Now the thing is after finishing the final coat on the walls in half the house she insisted it was the wrong colour. Said she was just down at a friends house with the same colour picked and it did not look any thing like what was on the walls finished.

                So I got a A4 sample OEM colour sheet and a A4 folder like display which has a inner panel that has a 4 pane window in white to off set for contrast. Showed her the colour sheet with OEM labeling, popped into the folder for contrast and asked if it was correct, she answered yes. Took it out and put it one the wall …. mirth … dang it was hard not to smile.

                In summation she did not understand that her friends house had accompanying colours and textures from its decor and how that would reflect on the wall colour during anytime in the day … guess that is way we call in psychological colour shock …

                Sometimes I feel like the Italian painters in the movie 6 Degrees of Separation and the end scene when the NYC art critics are viewing the restoration of Sistine Chapel ceiling. whilst having a religious moment, until the trades man says you can touch it … its just a mural …

                  1. skippy

                    Oh now you’ve triggered flash backs of DIA and the poorly laid terrazzo tile, seems they used notched trowels and did not consult the masters … would they have consulted that one must butter the tile with a slurry to avoid any air pockets and thus drumming effect and eventual failure from it.

    1. Carolinian

      That’s a great article. Of course drinking one’s urine has long been a staple of castaway stories–perhaps most recently in Better Call Saul when he treks the wilds of New Mexico.

      Haven’t tried it myself but it’s probably not very tasty.

      1. newcatty

        Mike would be one choice of whom do you want to be marooned with on a desert island? Handy and lots of survival experience.

  9. a different chris

    Sorry if I’m way over the “black humor” line here, but — so the guy murders his wife, but his justification for the double ballot is “she would have wanted to vote that way”?

    So is he concerned about her feelings, or not? I mean making sure she got to posthumously speak in an election that was really important to her is touching, but murdering her is, well not so much.

    All marriages are weird is some way, I guess.

  10. CH

    “Trump’s Space Force Commander Thinks Marxists Are Taking Over the Military”

    How else will would we implement Fully Automated Luxury Gay Space Communism®?

  11. Jeff W

    California Nurses’ Association pressuring the state to reject CDC’s mask guidance ABC30

    L.A. County orders Trader Joe’s, other chains not to relax mask rules Los Angeles Times

    COVID: California to adopt new CDC masks guidance June 15 San Jose Mercury News

    “The Golden State will continue requiring people who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to wear masks in public — both indoors and in crowded outdoor settings — until June 15, rather than immediately adopting last week’s much looser guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

  12. The Rev Kev

    “Government concerned over hostile UK tone towards NI Protocol”

    ‘Dublin is now concerned that London is pushing for a complete rewriting of the Protocol…’

    If the UK keeps this up, they will get themselves a reputation of being agreement-incapable. The protocol was agreed on ages ago so any concerns should have been raised back then. That is what negotiations are for. Thing is, if the UK does not want to go with the present protocol, what is to say that if a new Protocol is agreed on, that the UK would obey that one either?

  13. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: ‘There’s no way I can pay for this:’ One of America’s largest hospital chains has been suing thousands of patients during the pandemic CNN (Kevin W)

    So, another episode of “healthcare” porn. Blah, blah, blah.

    There is a proven solution to this “problem.” But 6 months ago “voters” in this country elected, supposedly with the most votes evah cast for any presidential candidate, a guy who didn’t say much except that he would veto that solution should it ever reached his desk. cnn was massively onboard, featuring an endless array of “experts” who, among other things, absolutely confirmed that solving this problem would be the DEATH of our sacred, capitalist democracy, and protecting, cheerleading and lying for the guy who vowed not to do it.

    So what’s the point of this article now–absolution?

  14. Tom Stone

    That Popular Science article on Autonomous weapons…”Talking honestly about the risks of data error is essential if machines are going to deliver on their promise of limiting harm”.
    That’s nice dear, or as they say in the South, “Bless your heart”.

  15. The Rev Kev

    ‘”I don’t know what to do.”
    A 10-year-old Palestinian girl breaks down while talking to MEE after Israeli air strikes destroyed her neighbour’s house, killing 8 children and 2 women’

    That’s pretty devastating this. How do you answer her questions? What can you say to this? That it’s complicated? I note that even while being surrounded by all that devastation, that she is still thinking of wanting to help her people. How many adults would be saying that?

    1. jrh

      I would fill her with hate. Teach her to stop feeling anything else. Impress upon her the interminable condition that she will be called upon to overturn. Console her with promises of salvation through sacrifice.

      1. hunkerdown

        There’s only one Baptist church in Gaza, for as long as Israel sees fit to leave it standing.

        1. skippy

          The one true Sumerian deity … oops … continuation of previous amalgamation of creation mythos that was established with the advent of Ag …

          Then some like to make authoritative claims about property, depending on notions grounded in almost geological time frames, propensity for transference of knowledge – zilch, and then play victim for funding style points.

          I don’t know how one can make a General that sees a Commie Marxist in every contrary historical wood pile that challenges the savor narrative …. come hook or crook …

  16. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Nuclear Reactions at Chernobyl Are Spiking in an Inaccessible Chamber NewScientist”

    That should only intensify the interest for prospective ‘tourists’ and the ego inflating bragging rights that go along with such bucket list ‘accomplishments’ for bored 1st world consumers that are constantly seeking new adventures, excitement, and entertainment, as it will be the gift that keeps on giving for the next 3000 years, at least.

    ““Dark” tourism, defined as traveling to sites associated with death and destruction, has been growing steadily since the 1990s. Designating Chernobyl as an official tourist destination has been on Ukrainian President Zelensky’s agenda, as well as fighting corruption at the exclusion zone, such as bribes that security officials collect from tourists, the illegal export of scrap, and the use of natural resources.”

    1. Petter

      Filatova Elena Vladimorvna has been documenting Chernobyl on her motorcycle since the early 2000’s. I came across her site years ago, I can’t even remembe. There may have been others exploring the area when she started but her photographs and narrative are really gripping.
      Oh yes, as her site now makes clear, she’s now on YouTube.

  17. JacobiteInTraining

    Alexa mesh network: Xfiniti/Comcast has a similar thing wherein all of their wifi-enabled cable modems happily advertise their wifi to anyone within range, and you can provide your Xfiniti/Comcast credentials to gain access to wifi wherever you are….thru neighbors or strangers devices.

    Same blahblah about encryption and security, assured it doesnt effect your speeds nor count against your data caps but so soooo annoying.

    If you are persistent you can go in and disable it, but (natch) it keeps popping back up after updates and such, so its whack a mole to KEEP it disabled.

    If only there was a law. Something that would apply to businesses that were monopolies, and that could be invoked to stop behavior like that. Alternatively, if only there was a national governing body of individuals who worked for the people and didnt take their paychecks from industry.


  18. antidlc

    Fauci Confirms ‘Extremely Low’ Risk Of Transmission For Fully Vaccinated – All In – MSNBC

    He’s still claiming this.

    He was also asked how far in advance did he know of the CDC’s mask recommendations. He said he only found out about it a couple of hours prior to the announcement.

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Nuclear reactions at Chernobyl are spiking in an inaccessible chamber

    To all those people that think that because of climate change that we have to go with more nuclear plants because it is more environmentally-friendly and more green than coal or other sources of power – yeah, nah!

  20. Jeremy Grimm

    I couldn’t finish the article on the new military’s secret undercover army. I do not recall seeing much in the way of evidence for the story. If the DIA really is spending money on this kind of operation I would think they could get more bang for their buck from training more soldiers to learn the culture and speak the language where they are stationed. The kind of HUMINT a bunch of guys with trackers in their shoe and old guy masks could come up with might make a good post for the Duffel Blog or the Onion … but Newsweek? What next for Newsweek — stories of alien abduction?

    1. ambrit

      I caught the major danger of the idea; anyone not “accredited” by our system is automatically an ‘adversary.’ That includes locals and domestic populations. This is the working out of the “nuts and bolts” of the Great Universal Panopticon.
      Given the Terran human penchant for mess ups and bad faith actions, I’d say that no one is “safe” from this system. Add in the fact that even the ‘system’ itself does not know the full extent of itself; I’d say that we are seeing the evolution of a real world version of the heretofor fictional Skynet.
      Societal collapse might end up being a net positive over the long run.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Societal collaspse will come as a consequence of the present hubris. Humankind relies on multiple inter-linked networks which Neoliberalism has stretched to their limits, and I believe streatched beyond those limits.

        Skynet is not really fictional. It is just not quite up to ‘true’-snuff, which is beyond the paygrade I enjoyed. But check on old DOD/contractor videos tauting Future Combat Systems from over a decade ago. Sorry no links [if any decent links remain — I will not look].

        Societal collapse will not be a net positive. The amounts of knowledge we will lose will be unprecendented. I seriously worry that some knowledge MIGHT be lost forever, never regained. There are things we know now that might NEVER be rediscovered in the energy and population constrained world of the future.

        1. c_heale

          We are continually losing knowledge as old systems are superseded. If we are energy constrained, we won’t have a big population within a short time. The only knowledge really essential is farming or being able to forage food and hunt, cooking, how to make clothes and shelter, and how to cure diseases with whatever resources we have. The rest is not important or we can recreate ourselves.

  21. Wukchumni

    I should have ended up with Devin Nunes as my Congressman, but got gerrymandered into Kevin McCarthy’s district and seeing they are 2 peas out of the same pod politically it ain’t no big thang, and here’s the latest from the former, who likes to sue for amounts into the many hundreds of millions-albeit with no follow through, Devin merely wants the press coverage that comes when you file a $400 million lawsuit that you don’t get from filing a $400k lawsuit, and then months later these whopper lawsuits go away, usually very quietly as the courts report they are without merit. Devin’s lawyer had to cough up $21k recently in attorney’s fees to CNN, after the judge in the case called the lawsuit frivolous.

    The idea that Trump went as far as obtaining a grand-jury subpoena to identify somebody mocking Nunes (pronounce it ‘noon-yez’ if you want to upset the Congressman) gives you an idea of the depths of depravity both sunk to…

    WASHINGTON — The Justice Department under President Trump secretly obtained a grand-jury subpoena last year in an attempt to identify the person behind a Twitter account dedicated to mocking Representative Devin Nunes of California, according to a newly unsealed court document.

    But Twitter fought the subpoena, as well as an associated gag order barring the company from talking about it publicly. Twitter executives raised skepticism about whether the Justice Department might be abusing federal criminal law-enforcement power to retaliate against a critic of Mr. Nunes, a Republican who is a close ally of Mr. Trump, in violation of the First Amendment.

  22. Greg S

    The idea that deficit spending is a burden on our children is the dumbest propaganda.

    “Every time the government sells a bond, it creates a liability for the government. But it also creates an asset for whoever bought it.”

    Yes, can’t argue with that but what is that bond going to be worth going forward is a question that comes to mind.

  23. Wukchumni

    Groups Call for Reintroduction of Jaguars in US Southwest Associated Press (furzy)
    This is clearly a mistake as once the Lucas electronic system goes out on your Jag in Scottsdale in mid August, unless you make it to Plan B air conditioning, they’ll find you melted into the rich corinthian leatherette bucket seat, not dissimilar to a pet left in a locked car during Mecca.

      1. rowlf

        Not to scare you or make you want to sleep with the lights on, but Lucas made aircraft components too.

        1. RMO

          Funny thing is I’ve owned two British cars – both Triumph TR-4’s – and neither ever had any electrical problems. My one German car (a 1974 Capri) on the other hand had a few glitches, though honestly I blame those on the previous owners as the car was a real pile by the time I got a hold of it. These days it’s German cars, MB, VW, BMW that are notorious for developing electrical problems as they age that seen to demand the services of an exorcist. It’s like they make the insulation and connector bodies out of cake frosting or something.

          I did once know a guy who had a BSA Goldstar with the infamous Lucas Magdyno. Eventually he said “Originality be damned!” and did some sort of modern ignition/generator modification to it. He was of the opinion that whoever designed the Magdyno deserved a spot at the center of Engineer’s Hell.

          1. jsn

            The Lucas components were so fragile I ripped the entire electrical harness out of my 69 Lotus Elan. completely rewired it.

            Also had a VW Scirocco from the first year of electronic controls: once every couple hundred miles the windshield wiper would make a single pass.

          2. skippy

            I’ve owned and worked on a number of post WWII English sports cars, TR3/4, Spitfire MKIII, various MGBs, and a TR6 and to a fault the wiring and switches was problematic, but, never impeded the love for the over all dynamics of the car.

            I think the movie GT 40 summarizes my thoughts early on at the main actors garage.

  24. ambrit

    Zeitgeist Report:
    Yesterday I did the weekly grocery shopping. There were still quite a few maskers visible, well over half of the people observed ‘on the street.’ One item seen reinforces the idea that the myth that “the vaccinated are now immune” is strong in the population; many of those not masked had the nearly indefinable look of being PMCs or Middle Class. Clues such as stylish clothing, ultra high end grooming, and expensive or new vehicles were the main ‘clues’ observed.
    The chain grocery store I went to was out of a specific type of apple, (which Phyl prefers for cooking.) When I questioned the grocery department manager, (there is one, and he now covers several stores in this area,) he replied that their Third Party Produce Vendor had just had an entire night shift of workers, some forty persons according to this manager, walk off of the job over working conditions at the warehouse, located in Hammond, Louisiana. When I looked, there indeed was a ‘shortage’ in items on the usually full grocery shelves and displays.
    Is it just me, or are the people on our roads now driving especially recklessly of late? I had to dodge other automobiles several times while driving yesterday. Usually, once a trip is notable. Yesterday, it felt like a session on a bumper cars ride.

    1. petal

      The quickie mart in town has had to change their hours from open 24 hours a day to closing every night at 10p and reopening at 5a, due to lack of staff. They have fliers up everywhere in the store advertising $12+ an hour and a $500 signing bonus, etc etc. Lots of “We’re hiring” signs up in our area commercial district in the next town over(large chain grocery stores, fast food and lower end sit-down places, box stores, and the like). There was a dude panhandling right next to a “We’re hiring” sign. I think KFC had $14+ an hour posted on their sign. There have been radio ads for other local companies as well-a printing company, Vermont Castings(woodstoves), Ruger, and a chicken farm. VC was advertising $22 an hour starting. That’s more than I make in science at our local institution. Ruger’s ad said “Come to our career fair, you might get an interview and job offer right there on the spot!”

      And yes on the aggressive/reckless/dumb driving. Reckon nobody cares anymore.
      Please give my best to Phyl.

      1. ambrit

        Back atcha as the saying goes.
        Our KFC had a “Now Hiring” sign up on their main road facing marquee. The second sentence said: “Now paying $10.” I wonder how much of the wage differential in “fast foods” emporia is down to franchisees making the pay decisions. The Mickey Ds around here are corporate owned and they were paying $15 per hour recently when I asked the counter woman at one outlet. (I am a ‘sucker’ for french fries.) The wage scales at the “fast food” outlets vary widely in our half-horse town.
        As for driving etiquette, I have taken to peering at the faces of other drivers when at stop lights, etc, and notice an uptick in the signs of anxiety: nervous eye movements, fidgeting, even yelling at the radio, (which I did until I stopped listening a few years ago.)
        All in all, I’d say that we are living through a “Time of Transition.”
        Stay safe!

    2. flora

      Is it just me, or are the people on our roads now driving especially recklessly of late?

      Not just you. After several crazy close run-ins at mid-day during the week (not late night weekend when partyers are driving), it seems like maybe the long lockdown’s made a lot of drivers unused to driving in traffic, or unsure of driving in traffic, or just nervous and pushy in general. I don’t know. It doesn’t seem like aggression to me but it sure is dangerous whatever it is. Stay safe.

      1. rowlf

        My observation is I am seeing more people driving without a plan for what they want to do. Sudden lane changes to make an exit or turn into a street or store from multi-lane roads. Brain fog? Driving aggressively is up too.

      2. ambrit

        Yes, it is dangerous. I now more and more try to plan out ahead my trips through town and limit the number of times such trips occur. I used to run out to get something we were low on at the nonce. Now, I collect a list of items and try to combine them into a single ‘Master List.’ In the Long Ago, such actions would have been laid at the door of ‘frugality’ or ‘economy.’ Now, I’ll wager that most people ‘blame’ it on ‘safety.’
        Double down stay safe!

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I believe people on our roads have been driving recklessly for a very long time. I drive an old Corolla and will not push its engine without reason, so I drive at 60 mph — my compromise between safety and conservation of my beloved old Corolla, gas consumption, tire-wear, and my instincts for self-preservation. [I drive my 28-year old daughter crazy but it is less stressful for her than enduring my side-seat driving if she were to drive us.] I feel more like I am driving a “Circus-of-Thrills” without rollbar, fire-safety suit, or heavy duty crash helmet, and financial backers to cover repairs to my car and body — Xtreme-moto-cross — than a relatively safe bumper car ride.

      Regarding the othe components of your comment: I have avoided all shopping since the CDC’s mask stupidity. You complain about a specific kind of apple? You need to locate a farmer’s coop if there are any around you, or an orchard that produces the apple you are looking for. I am fortunate to live within a two-hour drive of a farmers-coop that sells bushel quantities both wholesale and retail. Lately though, I have only a choice between 4-sellers of eggs, 1 of rhubarb, and just recently 1 of strawberries. I hope more sellers show up as our seasons turn. This farmers-coop was the only place I could get my extreme favorite Jona-Gold apple in this area. But I had to buy a bushel of them. I can eat half a bushel before they go pithy but I could not give the rest away! I have complained about this in comments long past. The problems sharing what I could not use have held me back from buying more produce from this co-op. When available and of decent quality I eat large quanties of fruits and vegetables … but my old Grandma who lived through the Great Depression sits on my shoulder passing harsh judgement about anything I waste. But I am reaching the end of my hesitations. I may start buying bushels of produce from the farmers-coop and giving it away at the roadside to those who need it and will use it. If I lived at a larger place I would buy a large freezer and make deals with local producers of beef, and for me, goat, sheep, chicken, duck, and turkey meats. The small producers are squeezed and can barely keep going while the prices at the local supermarket squeeze all the rest of us.

      I have no heart for killing, gutting, and skinning or plucking an animal — except pigs. I have known pigs and though I have no such ill feelings toward humans, the pigs I have known were so much like the very worst aspects of Humankind — too like too many bosses I have known — I believe I could kill, gut, skin, and eat a pig. I can butcher a carcass from any animal as long as I have sharp knives and space … I place the guilt on the killing. The carcass itself is only meat.

      I believe the stops and starts of work-flows and worker occupation which resulted from the Corola pandemic gave many people the empty time required to reflect. On reflection may felt unhappy, under-paid and unsatisfied at any price in continuing to work at jobs where they were abused, exploited, and unappreciated. I fear there will be some ‘unhappy’ consequences of this in months to come. The iron fist has long worn a gentling glove that will be shorn with ‘unhappy’ consequences. I more and more feel driven to flee to places further from large cities.

      1. ambrit

        We are barely “satisfied” ‘sheltering in place’ in the half horse town we presently inhabit. Such moves as prudence suggests are resource dependent. Being borderline poor, we have few options now.
        Farmer’s markets around here are a crap shoot. There are some, on very irregular schedules. In most, the produce sold is very often out of town sourced items of a provenance similar to that which is sold in the grocery stores. We have seen almost no direct from farm to customer items available. The local exception is a livestock farm that grows and slaughters their own meat animals. The prices are definitely aimed at the PMC class’s pocketbook level.
        Subsistence farming being the labour intensive activity it is, I would not be surprised to see the resurrection of a Manorial based Feudocracy in our mid-term future.

        1. Jeremy Grimm

          Sorry but not surprised to hear the nature of your local “farmers” co-ops. The farmer’s co-op I described sells produce to the local roadside farmer’s market sellers, as well as local retail bushel-load buyers. I have found nothing comparable to it in many residences all over the US … of A. I hoped that was just one of my own misfortunes.

          I attended one of the co-op’s meetings and tried to suggest that they could be more receptive to retail buyers willing to come to them. They could not get past their desires to break past the barriers they faced in selling to larger markets. They all criticized their co-op’s inability to reach large markets. Between the disappointments I had trying to give away produce and trying to suggest to the co-op farmers that they were not seeing a major, though fragmented, market for their produce I left the meeting in despair.

          Everything is all about money these days. And worse! It’s all about money now! in my hand!

          1. ambrit

            I hope that whoever first came up with the idea of ‘Shareholder Equity’ is roasting in that lower, very warm place now.
            America seems to be most receptive to “back to the land” groups being religious in basis. More “primitive” forms of religion seem to be the most capable of establishing communal social systems.
            Stay safe.

  25. enoughisenough

    That’s meant to be Alexandria, not Rome. I love how they got the architecture in color, but neglected the statues. Ancient marble statues were painted, not all white. Relief sculpture too: all painted.

    That’s a huge oversight, but otherwise the reconstruction animation is very nice.

  26. flora

    Thanks for the great links today. This one has me laughing. I’ll explain.

    ‘Sightings all over the world.’ Another former federal official discusses UFOs, upcoming congressional report

    The lower earth orbit line of satellites from Musk’s Space X have been launching; two more were launched last week. In some places at some times (in my area last week for instance) a line of these lower earth orbit satellites can be seen in the late evening glinting off the light of the setting sun.

    In “preparing” the public for this change in the evening and night sky our govt and mil start talking about UFOs last year – serious, chin-scratching, concerned talk “ooo, maybe UFOs are real.” This is hilarious to me, and confirms my opinion that the US gov has spent 2 years doing “Fear’s R’ US”, trying to fighten the US public over anything it can possibly use in a fear campaign. I’m still chuckling over the “Sightings all over the world…” bit. Of course people are seeing a new line of low earth orbit satellites, not 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still .

    But the mil is ramping up the fear. Ain’t it great? /ha

    note: this comment isn’t opining on whether or not UFOs exist. It’s opining on how the US gov and mil are using a new line of low earth orbit satellites appearing in the sky all around the world to ramp up fear in the public.

    (Now about that sudden large ip address space taking by the defense dept a few weeks ago. / heh)

    1. begob

      In “preparing” the public for this change in the evening and night sky our govt and mil start talking about UFOs last year – serious, chin-scratching, concerned talk “ooo, maybe UFOs are real.”

      I hadn’t made that connection. Genuinely, this time last year I was called out by the neighbours, who were jabbing their fingers at the evening sky in an urgent discussion about UFOs. And there it was when I looked up – half a dozen lights in the geometric pattern of Elon Musk’s face. I disabused them of their wilder thoughts, and how odd to feel the resentment of two mature men whose party has just been spoiled. They probably own crypto on the basis of Musk’s say-so.

    2. Fritzi

      Well, as nobody cares much about terrorism anymore (and it was never anything remotely close to an existential threat anyway)….

      There are always China and Russia, but maybe there are at least some folks inside the US military that are sane enough to realize that the risk of omnisuicide is a tad too high after all, if they press too hard on that front?

      Anyway, China and Russia cannot reduced to be puppets, they are too good at the game themselves, too good at seeing through the US, too good at anticipating and countering it’s moves for the US to be as much in control of the situation as it would ideally like to be.

      They might hope that UFOs can be turned into a conveniant phony threat that can used like a comfortable sock puppet, without risk of actual bloody noses or humiliation.

      Of course the excuse to further militarize space in hopes of one day getting the drop on China, as to be able to surprise genocide them without much risk to themselves, is presumably always part of what counts as longterm plans for them.

      But if we are lucky and that day never comes, and they are truly forced to share world domination, no matter how much gnashing of teeth it causes, possibly they might try to get the Chinese on board after all?

      To oppress the rest of humanity together, as the heroic protectors from scary UFOs?

      At least it would be preferable to nuclear holocaust.

  27. Adam1

    US ready to pull troops from Philippines ‘in months’ if no new VFA: expert

    I’m with Reslic. This is LOL material. I’d be more inclined to think it would be “regime change” material if it was really a big deal to Washington.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      With an animal cunning for reelpolitik that his public persona belies, Duterte has basically bought off the generals whose consent would be needed to overthrow him, with various sinecures.

      In spite of fondly held local legends about the American Chamber of Commerce running the table behind the scenes (fronting for the, ahem, Embassy, plus some local evangelical Chinese billionaires), everybody knows Uncle Sam’s ‘soft power’ is pretty much gone now. It’s all about the money grabs, and there are far more lucrative deals to be done these days with China, or maybe the Koreans.

  28. Carolinian

    Something jumps out at you about that Krebs article. The only operating system mentioned is the one created by man in the news Bill Gates. Is this yet another bit of social dysfunction we get to blame on Epstein’s little known associate?

    My trick for being protected on the internet is to use Linux–at least most of the time.

  29. RMO

    I recently heard what I think was a great way to describe Biden and his presidency – Ross Scott compared him to Otto the autopilot from the movie “Airplane!”

        1. RMO

          I think Kamala is far more likely to be trying to get close behind Otto with a needle in her hand if we extend the metaphor to include her – despite her not knowing how to fly an airplane.

  30. ObjectiveFunction

    Further to the China links above, this Economist piece, “Why More Young Chinese Want to be Civil Servants” had some very interesting bits (reordered for readability):

    Chinese refer to securing an official position as shang an, or “landing ashore”. Almost a million candidates sat exams in 2020, chasing 25,700 jobs. Still more took tests to become provincial and local officials. A civil servant for the central government earns 6,000 yuan ($930) a month, or less than some Beijing professionals spend on gym membership… but also enjoy heavily subsidised housing, health insurance and pension or hard-to-secure residence papers for such megacities as Beijing or Shanghai.

    Xi has told officials to study the Soviet Union’s collapse, after its ruling Communist Party became “a privileged bureaucracy that defended only its own interests”. Chinese propaganda has taken a populist turn, presenting the party as an ally against rapacious capitalism.

    Geopolitical distrust is bleeding into work relations. Chinese employed by foreigners have noticed that they never advance beyond middle management and are the first to be laid off in bad times.

    One bit the writer passed over though is that if you actually want to reach the very top in China, you do so by advancing both in your line career and in the provincial and national Communist Party structures which oversee the work of the agencies and SOEs. So choosing a public sector career isn’t necessarily a worse bet for the ambitious than slaving for a tech startup.

    Xi has revived (although it never went away) the ‘call and response’ concept, where ambitious, talented cadre in those provinces or localities who deliver best on Beijing’s directives get rewarded with promotion or election (by the Party) to higher posts, with attendant clout, remuneration and privileges. Connections still matter very much of course, and the pyramid is pointy, but results not happy talk are what get rewarded. That has driven a great deal of China’s success, although a lot of wasteful white elephants too.

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