Links 6/6/2021

Dolphins learn the ‘names’ of their friends to form teams—a first in animal kingdom Science

Beer byproduct mixed with manure proves an excellent pesticide Phys.org

AMC Drama Is Exposing Risks in $11 Trillion World of Indexing Bloomberg

G7/corporate tax: a hard but fragile bargain FT

Can Elites Start the Climate Revolution? Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy

Upriver: A researcher traces the legacy of plastics Orion

#COVID19

Ivermectin for COVID-19 in Peru: 14-fold reduction in nationwide excess deaths, p<0.002 for effect by state, then 13-fold increase after ivermectin use restricted (preprint) OSF Preprints

Incidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection according to baseline antibody status in staff and residents of 100 long-term care facilities (VIVALDI): a prospective cohort study The Lancet. The Interpretation: “The presence of IgG [Immunoglobulin G] antibodies to nucleocapsid protein was associated with substantially reduced risk of reinfection in staff and residents for up to 10 months after primary infection”

Long, Strange TRIPS: The Grubby History of How Vaccines Became Intellectual Property The New Republic

Researchers Are Hatching a Low-Cost Coronavirus Vaccine NYT. NDV-HXP-S.

Wary of Covid-19 vaccine shortages, several Asian governments are determined to develop home-grown shots South China Morning Post

China?

Chinese central bank governor backs push for climate risk disclosure FT

Xi’s change of heart is too late to stop China’s collision with the west Guardian

Luxury’s Battle For The Metaverse Jing Daily

US to donate 750,000 COVID jabs to Taiwan amid China row Al Jazeera

Myanmar

Several killed as Myanmar forces fight villagers in delta region Al Jazeera. With crossbows.

Myanmar’s National Unity Govt ‘No Longer Has Faith’ in ASEAN The Irrawaddy. Commentary:

India

India’s southern states show resilience amid Covid catastrophe FT

US imports could stall as demand overwhelms trans-Pacific capacity Freight Waves

Trans-Pacific Cable Chaos, Shifting Asian Hubs Telegeography

Syraqistan

Shin Bet head: Dangerous rise in online incitement, violent discourse must stop Times of Israel

Israel says 1967 land conquests weren’t planned. Declassified documents tell a more complicated story. Jewish Daily Forward

Syria Yet to Fulfil Chemical Weapons Convention Obligations, Top United Nations Officials Tell Security Council, as Members Spar over ‘Objectivity’ United Nations

UK/EU

Bad faith and brinkmanship: NI Protocol on the edge RTE

Pass the Prosecco Italics Magazine

New Cold War

Putin accuses U.S. of using dollar as tool of economic, political war Reuters

White House admits CIA involvement in “War on Corruption” which jailed Lula and elected Bolsonaro Brasilwire. Operation Lava Joto began in 2014 and was still operational in 2019, so I guess we have both Obama and Trump to thank for Bolsonaro, good job, you beat the socialist.

Biden Administration

White House Embraces Job Growth but Distances Itself From Expanded Benefits NYT

With Biden’s 2022 budget, civilian agencies are due for a hiring spree Federal News Network

Biden: Government Must Draft Anti-Corruption Plan by December Government Executive

Justice Department withdraws FBI subpoena for USA TODAY records ID’ing readers USA Today. The lead: “The FBI has withdrawn a subpoena demanding records from USA TODAY that would identify readers of a February story about a southern Florida shootout that killed two agents and wounded three others.”

Diverse six-justice majority rejects broad reading of computer-fraud law SCOTUSblog

YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: The Stimulus Checks Really Worked Daily Poster

2024

Trump demands 100% tariffs on Chinese goods, debt cancellation, and $10T in reparations for COVID-19 FOX

Our Famously Free Press

The Notorious London Spy School Churning Out Many of the World’s Top Journalists Mint Press

Assange

Assange’s Father and Brother Touring U.S. to Demand Journalist’s Freedom LA Progressive

Health Care

As I have been saying for some time, preventing #MedicareForAll was and is the #1 policy goal of Democrats. Here is their happy dance at having achieved it:

This after a vaccination program that was free at the point of care, with no co-pays, deductibles, or networks. Only the liberal Democrats could use a pandemic to herd people into buying (lousy) health insurance, and then present that as a policy triumph, after using single payer principles to defeat the pandemic (at least for this round). Will Temple Grandin please pick up the white courtesy phone? (Also, Obama looks bad; the con really shows on his sagging face now that he no longer has to pretend.)

Groves of Academe

College Admissions Shouldn’t Be Trusted to Humans Bloomberg

Sports Desk

‘This Should Be the Biggest Scandal in Sports‘ Sports Illustrated

Black Injustice Tipping Point

‘The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind’ (interview) Katie Herzog, Common Sense with Bari Weiss. Dr. Aruna Khilanani. Quite the read.

The U.S. Needs a New Constitution to Address the Fundamental Wrong of Slavery Teen Vogue

Class Warfare

The ugly truth behind your fancy rewards credit card Vox

Florida sugar mill worker, 86, fatally shoots boss after he’s fired, sheriff says NBC

We don’t know how to get dressed anymore WaPo. “We”? “Essential workers” — remember them? — have never forgotten, since they go to work every day:

AIDS Anniversary

40 years of the HIV/AIDS response The Lancet. Landing page for many articles.

40 years of AIDS taught us epidemiologic humility. We need to apply that lesson in fighting Covid-19 STAT

How to stop overthinking Psyche

Antidote du jour (AM):

AM writes: “Another picture that I should not have taken of my lovely cat Emmett but couldn’t resist. Rubenesque…”

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.

201 comments

  1. timbers

    Many have commented about the recent surge in UFO coverage and wondered why. Looks like there may be an answer that could sense to many.

    Google “UFO Reports Are Fertilizer For Military Budgets”

    Apparently since 2019 the US has had an eighth branch of the military (Space Force) and it wants to be fed. Our corporate conglomerate media is happy to assist.

    Reply
    1. Eric Anderson

      Yes, that was my conclusion. A couple of weeks ago I tweeted:

      “Reminder to those following the UFO bafflegab:
      Just a few short years ago a new arm of the military was created called the #SpaceForce.
      It’s tough to rationalize gazillion dollar budget outlays without aggressive extra-terrestrial POCs to fear.”

      Reply
      1. Wukchumni

        It’s tough to rationalize gazillion dollar budget outlays without aggressive extra-terrestrial POCs to fear.”

        Its all fun & games until polka dotted chartreuse & teal colored aliens decide to do away with one dimensional colored human beans…

        Reply
    2. Nikkikat

      Space Force: The Dems provided quite a few votes for this monstrosity as I recall. We were running out of wars and needed another boondoggle to waste money. It was not hard to see why the UFO talk was happening. They just needed to distract people from the fact that they were actually funding something the orange bad man left behind.

      Reply
      1. Bruno

        I’m sceptical about the UFO stuff being a ploy to extract money from Congress. nothing at all in the military budget (except the maintenance of military bases in the continental US) reflects any degree of popular support (let alone popular demand). Why should a few extra billions added to the already overblown space-cadet budget need any new propaganda effort? Maybe the media, having dumped their Orange cash cow, need some Green ones?

        Reply
    3. LaRuse

      That’s been my assumption – Space Force was kind of a Trumpian vanity project and likely to flounder without his patronage. So now suddenly UFOs have to be completely mainstream enough that when SpaceForce really starts loudly lobbying for a big budget boost, anxious Americans will be more than happy to hand over the $$$. I will be utterly unsurprised when eventually some kind of grainy video comes up documenting a “UFO attack” on some emotionally charged American target. Budget caps will fly off faster than a “UFO” on radar.
      But then I am cynical.

      Reply
      1. JacobiteInTraining

        “…anxious Americans will be more than happy to hand over the $$$…”

        It would supremely ironic if the aliens political agenda (or, lack thereof) proves to be enlightened, progressive, and very Star Trek:The Next Generation’ish, and millions upon billions of us decide to switch our allegiance wholly away from our planetary corrupt billionaire elites and just….leave.

        Check and mate, Bezos! :)

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          Wow. Brilliant concept. Bezos and Gates and all the rest of them ‘left behind’. All of them that made the world that the way it is with pollution and global warming – and now it is all theirs to enjoy.

          Reply
      2. Ben Dalton

        “Budget caps will fly off faster than a “UFO” on radar.”

        Loved that one.

        And that’s one hell of a prediction. I wouldn’t be surprised if this happens either.

        Reply
      3. wilroncanada

        Any UFO attack would have to be on either January 6 or September 11 just to rhyme. If Jan. 6, there are a lot of photos and videos around which could be doctored (space cut) to prove aliens are with us. September 11 would prompt calls for the final elimination of Osama, who instead of dying, became a Zombie who has now recruited a new crew from outer space..
        See how easy it is to make s&!t up if you’re determined?

        Reply
    4. jr

      I have a few problems with this article.

      “But spending tax dollars on weapons requires at least some nominal justification. There needs to be a threat that requires new weapons to counter it. Thus we are presented with an onslaught of UFO rumors and silly grainy videos”

      Really? Let’s talk about the simplest answer being the best. Would it really take outrageous claims to secure fat Pentagon contracts/monies for Space Farce? Why not just “Russkies in Spaaaace!!”? Or a Chinese version of the same? Why not low orbit Gulf of Tonkin incident? But the author, and numerous others, would have us believe that the best “nominal” explanation the Pentagon can come up with is UFO’s? And someone who I forget where I came across helpfully debunked the “tech better” argument by pointing out that the majority of cameras, cell phones, that capture these things are >notalien< is talking bunk.

      "Today's lesson from Logic 101.
      If you have no explanation for an observation, it does not mean that any explanation is a good one.
      It does not follow that
      We can't explain some observations, so they must be aliens/ a directed-energy weapon/ a lab leak."

      Today’s lesson from Logic 101.

      It does not follow that because some people are willing to accept “any” explanation, that everyone who is truly skeptical about the existence of extraterrestrials in our airspace accepts every explanation. This is a kind of intellectual smear job, unless she is responding to someone’s specific claims she is casting her net way to broadly. But this is not an uncommon tactic in the “debunker” world.

      “We can’t explain some observations, so they must be aliens/ a directed-energy weapon/ a lab leak.”

      Again, a smear. I’ve read almost no one is openly willing to make a solid claim about what these things are. Everyone I’ve heard speak about the topic has been careful to not claim to know what they are but they are responding to what they see as evidence. Sure, lots of folks are unreflective about UFO’s…on both sides of the aisle.

      “Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. There is none for either of Rogin’s theories.”

      Not according to a lot of people but we are to accept MofA’s dismissal at face value, based on another face value dismissal. Why should I blindly accept one set of claims over another? So what if Mick West reproduced the videos, we can make mock-ups of lots of things, ever seen “Jurassic Park”? I’m going to take in all evidence I can but I am not going to even attempt to come to a conclusion without something definitive coming up. It’s an epistemic fumble.

      Now Caitlin Johnstone has some cogent things to say about all this (and more) and I’m perfectly willing to accept that this is all hokum if that’s what it shakes out to be. I don’t assume it is aliens at work but I’m open to that possibility. I don’t hold with silliness such as “It’s too far to travel!” because we have literally no idea, nor could we at this point I’d bet, of what such a civilizations technology is capable of. Nor do we have a remotely complete picture of the laws of nature to say such travel is impossible. To claim such knowledge makes two errors: one: we have a complete knowledge of the universe which is probably impossible and two: our science has reached it’s zenith, the “end of history” for physics etc. Nothing but divine recapitulation left.

      I should also add I don’t trust that filmmaker Corbell for a hot second nor do I take Elizondo at his word as he is intel and an ideologue. But I’m not going to shut off the idea that it’s something more exotic than drones and balloons. I will, skeptically, reserve judgement until better information comes along.

      Reply
      1. Jeff W

        “None of the UFO sightings discussed recently is consistent with anything hypersonic.”

        Maybe it depends on what “recently” means but Kevin Knuth, a physicist at SUNY Albany, who takes these sightings seriously, calculated the maximum speed of one of the UAPs in the Nimitz sighting— which reportedly dropped from 28,000 feet to sea level or under the surface in 0.78 seconds—to be about 46,000 mph during the descent, or 60 times the speed of sound.

        If we take these observations involving seemingly inexplicable movements at face value, it’s clear that we don’t have a clue as to what the underlying physics might be. Of course, the movements might be entirely explicable, according to what we know. But that’s the whole point of scientific inquiry, to figure out what exactly is going on.

        Reply
      2. Procopius

        I think anyone who states (in their video giving their opinion), “… and here we see the ship …” should be admonished for misstating the facts. Take a lesson from General Semantics, and from Buddhism, for that matter. Practice Right Speech. What we are looking at is not “a ship,” it’s a video of an image on a radar or a night-vision screen. Every single person who says these things cannot be explained should be required to watch “SO, THOSE NAVY VIDEOS SHOWING UFOS? I’M NOT SAYING IT’S NOT ALIENS, BUT IT’S NOT ALIENS.” If the armed forces have better images, lets see them. The three recently released by the Navy are no better than those from 1949. Where’s a half dozen high definition optical videos?

        Reply
    5. Pelham

      That’s certainly a possibility and one that I believe is right up there with all the other possibilities.

      But as a confessed 50-year veteran UFO nut, I feel compelled to note that one of the UFO skeptics’ chief reasons for denying the existence of these objects (and, yes, the skeptics may still be right) is that the military and other authorities best positioned to know have always dismissed their existence. Now that the military has acknowledged a problem, skeptics are complaining that THIS is all a hoax.

      One of the better documented aspects of this phenomenon is the repeated appearance of UFOs over US and Soviet ground-based missile installations. These have occurred over decades, and in some cases the systems controlling the missiles have been disrupted. All this at a time when the Pentagon was dismissing UFO reports. A true believer could put a positive spin on these events, saying the aliens are trying to prevent us from nuking the planet. But I should think skeptics would be agnostic on motives and at least a little concerned, and the military quite understandably should be worried.

      None of this excludes the notion that the military has now institutionally changed its mind and decided to take advantage of these reports as a way to spin out more spending. All I’m saying is that a more realistic and historically based look at the matter suggests a wider range of possibilities, not all of which are traceable to evil motives.

      Reply
      1. Alex Cox

        The USAF was behind the UFO flaps of the 1950s, too. Adamski and other ‘contactees’ were Air Force people. Projects Bluebook, Grudge and Sign were run by AF General Pierre Cabel, probably as cover for high tech aviation projects like the U2 and SR Blackbird.

        JFK fired Cabel (who was also deputy head of CIA) after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and Cabel retired to Dallas, TX, where his brother, Earl, was mayor.

        Reply
        1. Bakerfan

          See page 110 of the book “Family of Secrets,” Russ Baker, for a further elaboration of that giant coinkydink.
          “On May 24, 1963, the U.S. Air Force presented to D. Harold Byrd its Scroll of Appreciation for his work with the Civil Air Patrol (where Oswald was a cadet). Among the Air Force generals that he counted as friends was Charles Cabell, Allen Dulles’ Deputy CIA director, Key Bay of Pigs figure, and brother of Dallas mayor Earle Cabell, Also a good friend of Byrd’s.”

          Byrd owned the Texas School Book Depository.

          Reply
  2. Isotope_C14

    ‘The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind’ (interview)

    “I think it’s colonialism. That history. If you do this much lying to yourself it’s going to have an effect on your mind. There’s no way it can’t.”

    Great link.

    Santa Claus, Jesus, Easter Bunny, we raise the kids to be prepared for a life of lies.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      You forgot the market. Maybe that’s Santa Claus, Jesus, and the Easter Bunny all rolled into one.

      Reply
    2. Aumua

      Indeed. I highly recommend that anyone read the entire article, especially the interview section of Dr. Khilanani, who says:

      Before I gave the talk, I said, I want you to observe your thoughts and feelings as I talk. I said, there’s a difference between a thought, a fantasy, and an action.

      so she is not as unhinged as it might seem at first. She is talking about expressing difficult feelings in a psycho-therapeutic context. Actually the interview reveals a great deal of insight on the part of Dr. Khilanani IMO that may even undermine author Bari Weiss’s narrative (she is kind of hard to pin down). Don’t swallow the reactionary Right’s interpretation!

      Reply
      1. Ben

        Agreed. She was actually quite cunning in her aggressive approach. Sort of like a blitzkrieg across the continent to change the discussion from small potatoes to bigger spoils.

        Reply
      2. Darthbobber

        To the extent that an audience for a lecture is operating in anything like a psycho-therapeutic context.

        Reply
      3. Bill

        Anyone who even fantasizes about murdering someone because of his/her skin color is kinda unhinged.

        You talk about insight. What would be an example? This? “We are asking a demented, violent predator who thinks that they are a saint or a superhero, to accept responsibility.” Talking about white people. Not over the top a tad? How about “White people make my blood boil”? A gross generalization based on skin color. There’s a word for that.

        BTW, I’m not the reactionary right, but rather, a progressive. You don’t have to be a right-winger to criticize her talk.

        Reply
  3. The Rev Kev

    “This Should Be the Biggest Scandal in Sports”

    Never seen a full game of baseball but I have noticed one thing. You look at the guys playing and most of them are wearing one of two different uniforms. Funny that. And when you get one guy swinging that big lump of timber to hit that ball, there is another guy there catching the ball if the first guy misses. But I notice also another guy hanging around them wearing a different uniform altogether. He doesn’t seem to be very busy standing there so why not have him check each ball caught? Come to think of it, he seems to have three other buddies out there so I am sure that they could help him out.

    For what it is worth, it is not only American baseball that has ball-tampering in it-

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2018_Australian_ball-tampering_scandal

    Reply
    1. Wukchumni

      Worry not, the SEC (spurious excess commission) is all over this story, and we can expect them to crack down on spinsider traiting, which is obviously turning off young fans from our national pastime, as the average age of an MLB fan is 57 now.

      Isn’t adulterating the ball all part of cricket though?

      Sometimes you’ll see a bowler whose pant leg on his hurling arm is red from all the brushing up with the ball against it during a match…

      Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        Rubbing the ball against your leg is allowed as you can claim that you are rubbing off the dirt on the ball that it picked up rolling along the ground. Rubbing the ball with sandpaper live on TV being beamed around the world kinda went too far. Of course after a year or two, there were favorable stories on these banned players on TV and other stories about how they are ‘suffering’ for their ‘mistakes’ and before you knew it, they were back playing again. So nothing like the consequences of the Black Sox Scandal at all.

        Reply
    2. lyman alpha blob

      This is a really interesting story. Baseball, my favorite sport, has quickly become nearly unwatchable in recent years. Analytics has been at the root of it IMO, but this adds another nuance.

      Analytics resulted in defensive players shifting their positions on the field to stop more ground ball and low line drive hits. This is nothing new – it was done against Ted Willaims when he played in the 40s and 50s. The difference is now it’s done against nearly everybody, not just the greatest hitters. Hitters responded by swinging for home runs instead – you can’t stop that with a defensive shift – and they began hitting them at unprecedented rates. Now batting averages are at the lowest point they’ve been in over 50 years and it’s home run or strikeout with not much in between. This isn’t baseball – it;s the home run derby at the all star game.

      The theory had been that pitchers were throwing harder than ever before which is why averages were so low, but I didn’t buy that. Sure, there are a lot more guys throwing a 98 mph fastball than ever before, but if there’s one pitch a MLB hitter can hit, it’s the fastball. My own theory was that pitchers had adjusted by throwing more breaking pitches and fewer fastballs, causing batters jacked up to crush a fastball 450 ft to flail wildly at the softer stuff. In other words, batters could only hit the fastball and nothing else. After reading this article, I’m going to need to adjust that theory a little.

      In the pitchers’ defense, the article does note that MLB has altered the baseball so many times in recent years it has made it difficult for pitchers to be consistent, with changes to the ball requiring adjustments to their grip, etc. Cheating has at least in part been a response to that.

      I miss what baseball used to be – the current HR or K game with nothing in between is anathema. Bring back the bunt, the steal and the hit and run.

      Reply
        1. lyman alpha blob

          Now that you mention Billy, the entire experience has become much to sterilized. Not only would bringing back the old strategies be a plus, but a little surliness with a touch of inebriation would definitely liven things up a bit too. The Sox broadcasters were reminiscing about the anniversary of Yaz doing this recently. Now arguing with the umpires has for the most part been taken away in the 21st century sanitized version of baseball. Today the biggest dugout outburst is a pitcher punching a water cooler in frustration – much more entertaining when they used to punch Billy Martin.

          Reply
      1. Fiery Hunt

        National League all the way, baby!
        If they ever adopt the DH, the last real baseball will be dead.

        Reply
      2. juno mas

        Lower batting average is a function of a number of factors: pitchers throw harder (higher velocity) than ever and the ability to make the ball “move” more in flight; when there are two outs and a runner on first, swinging for the homer is the more efficacious option than just making contact; today’s players (with their modern gloves/mitts) cover more ground to catch balls put in play; the infield and outfields are immaculately groomed (fewer odd bounces) so the ‘bad hop” base-hit is rarer.

        Batting Average alone is a poor indicator of plate productivity. Hitting a squib hit is not the same as banging a liner off the wall. That is why on-base percentage plus slugging (OPS) is a better productivity indicator. Lastly, the difference between a .250 hitter and a player that bats .300 over a season (~600 at bats) is ONE hit per Week. Depending on how many games you watch, the difference in “action” in any one game is miniscule.

        I agree that pitching dominates the game today (that’s why half the 25-man roster is composed of pitchers). If baseball would go to a computerized strike-zone the distinct advantage pitchers’ have today would diminish.

        Reply
        1. tegnost

          the ability to make the ball “move” more in flight;

          and how is it that they make the ball move more?

          Reply
          1. juno mas

            Have you been watching MLB games the last 10 years? Pitchers have learned how to control the movement (vertically and horizontally) of the ball through spin rate and angle of rotation (which requires better grip friction). Coupled with the ability to throw pitches with different velocities with the same arm angle (further disguizing the pitch type to the hitter), hitting a round ball with a round bat becomes extremely difficult (less action).

            Reply
          2. Screwball

            Spin rates. IOW, the ball does more rotations per second (or in this case, parts of seconds) from when it leaves the hand until it crosses the plate.

            The data shows spin rates have gone up over time. Reason; better athletes maybe, but there seems to be a consensus some are doctoring the ball. Sticky stuff to get more spin off the finger.

            Reply
          1. juno mas

            You do know that they have done an analysis of homeplate umpire calls and they consistently “widen” the strike zone? Pitchers already have a distinct advantage and to give then “anything close” is to make hitting more difficult than it is. Homeplate umpires will still be necessary, but a computerized strike will give batters the benefit of good plate discipline (that is readily aborted by bad calls).

            Implementing the computerized strike zone can be accomplished with a vibrating wrist buzzer on the umpires wrist that signifies a legitimate strike. Most of the time the umpire is certain a pitch is a ball or strike; it’s the close calls that are the problem. And it is the close calls in critical at-bats that decide close games. (See: Yadier Molina being awarded first base, instead of striking out, in final World Series game against the Texas Rangers.) The computerized strike zone in that game indicated the pitch was a close strike. It was a 3-2 count and the norm among umpires is you should swing at anything close; yet he was awarded a free base (walk) by the umpire to decide the game!

            PS. The in-game replay review has shown over the years that close calls at first base are overturned 50% of the time. It seems electronic technology could assist other areas of umpiring, as well.

            Reply
            1. lyman alpha blob

              No.

              The game was fine without computers for over a century. You want computers calling strikes, then replace the players with robots too. Maybe you can control them with hand held consoles remotely from the comfort of your bedroom so there’s no need to get too close to other humans.

              Not everything needs the assistance of technology. Moar technology is not de facto better. Now you kids can get off my diamond!

              Reply
            2. fumo

              You guys are nuts. Did you see the plate ump completely blow the 9th inning call in the Yankees-Sox game tonight? Balls and strikes should be machine called, the umps are demonstrably incapable of doing it well enough, and too often the games turn on their bad plate calls.

              People said the same stuff when tennis went to automated line calling and today nobody wants to go back to linesmen. The drama they caused wasn’t a charming quaint tradition, it was detrimental to the game.

              Reply
              1. Dirk77

                Yet the Sox pulled out a win anyways. Keep the umps and dump even video review of plays.

                Speaking of tennis, IMHO it went downhill when it became a power game due primarily to allowing high tech rackets. If they were still playing with wood ones, the game would still be a finesse one and more interesting.

                Reply
              2. lyman alpha blob

                I saw it and no, it doesn’t warrant bringing in machines. When you play 162 games, the calls tend to even out over the long term. I’d bet you money that the Sox will be lamenting a call that goes in the Yanks favor before the end of the season, if not the week.

                In tennis, the line is the line and the dimensions don’t change during the course of the game. Take a look at the MLB rule book for how the strike zone is defined. By definition it varies from player to player. You can’t tell me a computer is going to get that right 100% of the time either. Buy hey, maybe we can have even more annoying time outs so the umpires can check with the machinery to make sure it’s aligned correctly before the first pitch is thrown to each player.

                Sure the umps blow calls. But for a few years before the advent of replay, the managers could ask for the umps to huddle up and discuss the call among themselves without looking at replay. If the 2nd base ump blinked when someone was sliding into the bag and he missed the call, the other umps would get it right on the huddle. Worked just fine with no machinery required. I was 100% in favor of that rule change.

                Those with a tech fetish can stick to their baseball video games and leave the real human sport for the rest of us.

                Reply
          2. Jason

            Gary Cohen said during the Mets-Padres broadcast last night that “robot” umpires are being tested in the minors this season and will be in the majors soon enough.

            The Automatic Ball-Strike System has already been in use in the independent Atlantic League and Arizona Fall League. As The Associated Press noted, it “got mixed reviews from players, with complaints about how the TrackMan system grades breaking pitches down in the zone.”

            The robot could help rein in different interpretations of the strike zone among umpires. It also limits the ability of catchers to frame a pitch, which can help make a ball just barely out of the zone look like a strike.

            https://www.npr.org/2021/03/12/976383147/minor-league-baseball-to-experiment-with-robotic-umpires

            Players adjust to different umpires’ strike zones. The players don’t necessarily care if the ball is a technical strike or not, so long as it’s hittable* and the umpire maintains his zone consistently. This technology will further erode the human element of the game. There is no room for human fallibility in the brave new techno-utopian world.

            *Umpire Eric Gregg’s calling of the 1997 Braves-Marlins playoff game is perhaps the most infamous case. Interestingly, his zone that day was wide in favor of the Marlins’ Livan Hernandez as opposed to the Braves’ Greg Maddux, who was known – along with other Braves pitchers of that era – to benefit mightily himself from umpires’ widening zones in his favor. Of course, the umps may have been responding to those human elements in the Braves dugout: pitching coach Leo Mazzone and manger Bobby Cox and their incessant ranting from the dugout.

            https://www.ajc.com/sports/further-review-blog/infamous-eric-gregg-game-remains-a-stain-in-braves-playoff-lore/DVGL343IIRH4JKODXHS4QVJVBA/

            Reply
      3. Mikel

        Why don’t they adjust the strike zone a bit to where there would have to be some adjustment for accuracy?

        Reply
      4. Laughingsong

        Agreed, I despise “the shift”. It usually removes the chance of a double play for one, and two, good hitters adjust to “hit ‘em where they ain’t” and it starts to lose its effectiveness anyway.

        Reply
      5. neo-realist

        More money to be made by the players with better power numbers encourages players to muscle up, through conditioning and, possibly….supplements, to hit more homers.

        Reply
    3. Laughingsong

      Don Sutton once said that he NEVER doctored the ball with a foreign substance…..because Vaseline was made right here in the Ol’ U.S. of A.

      Reply
      1. Fred1

        Re: doctoring baseballs and how the game has changed as discussed upthread

        First my priors: I’m an old geezer and started following baseball in 1960. I was a pitcher in senior league and high school. I was most influenced by Sandy Koufax and in particular his overhand curve which was described as falling off the edge of a table. Serious movement. I kind of got the hang of it and could throw it for strikes most of the time. But never threw it when I was behind in the count.

        I want to apologize in advance for not linking to some of the claims I make below. I’m an old geezer and haven’t figured out to do it.

        Doctoring baseballs is nothing new, but the author tries to lead his audience to believe it just started 3 years ago. How to make pitches move differently, whether legally or illegally, has gone on since the beginning of the game, and has been passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation of pitchers. It’s the institutional memory of the pitching profession. Just go to a summer baseball camp for teenagers and there will be instructors/counselors who will teach any camper who is interested how to throw the nastiest pitches. This is how I learned Koufax’s curve.

        IMO the main cause of how the game has changed has been the development of specialist middle and set-up relievers. These pitchers usually only throw 10 to 15 pitches, sometimes less, before they are replaced by someone with a different motion and repertoire. A batter will only face these pitchers once in a game. There is no way a batter can get used to how the pitches of a particular pitcher are moving, whether the pitches are legal or not.

        The use of these specialists has been a development basically over the last 35 years. Before there were starters and closers. Starters were looked down upon if they couldn’t finish. Middle relievers simply were pitchers who weren’t good enough to either start or close a game, journeymen basically.

        That started to change in the middle 80s. Now these specialists are excellent and are virtually unhittable, and exceptionally well paid. Every team has them and the managers will use them every game.

        Statistically this is most obvious when complete games and innings pitched are considered. Look at these stats for pitchers that most people here are familiar with: such as Nolan Ryan, Steve Carlton, Catfish Hunter, Greg Maddux, Don Sutton, Fernando Valenzuela, Bob Gibson, ect.

        For instance, Steve Carlton in 1972 started 41 games and completed 30 with 346.1 innings pitched. He won 27 and lost 10 with an earned run average of 1.97 and 310 strike outs. As context, his team was terrible with a record of 59 – 97. He won 27 of his teams 59 victories. Carlton tired was better than anyone in the bullpen.

        Justin Verlander in 2019 started 34 games and completed 2 with 223.0 innings pitched. He won 21 and lost 6 with an earned run average of 2.58 and 300 strike outs. As context, his team won it’s division with a record of 107 – 55.

        None of this is about which of these pitchers is better or whether one era of pitchers is better than another. It’s just what I see has changed. And I like pitching duels between pitchers who go the distance.

        Reply
  4. Wukchumni

    The first time I laid eyes on ‘Swamp Kauri’ in NZ about 20 years ago I was smitten by it, imagine 40,000+ year old wood that once brought up out of peat bogs where the trees fell thanks to some cataclysmic event, which still had about 70% of the tensile strength of modern lumber, and such iridescence once worked into bowls or furniture, truly amazing stuff!

    But that was before the smoking Kauri gun was located, unlocking mysteries of our past, tying so much together, in particular the reversal of our magnetic poles, allowing solar storms to rage and forcing humans to seek shelter in caves where they created the first art, and the end of the era of Neanderthals…

    The temporary breakdown of Earth’s magnetic field 42,000 years ago sparked major climate shifts that led to global environmental change and mass extinctions, a new international study co-led by UNSW Sydney and the South Australian Museum shows.

    This dramatic turning point in Earth’s history—laced with electrical storms, widespread auroras, and cosmic radiation—was triggered by the reversal of Earth’s magnetic poles and changing solar winds.

    The researchers dubbed this danger period the ‘Adams Transitional Geomagnetic Event’, or ‘Adams Event’ for short—a tribute to science fiction writer Douglas Adams, who wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that ’42’ was the answer to life, the universe, and everything.

    “For the first time ever, we have been able to precisely date the timing and environmental impacts of the last magnetic pole switch,” says Chris Turney, a professor at UNSW Science and co-lead author of the study.

    “The findings were made possible with ancient New Zealand kauri trees, which have been preserved in sediments for over 40,000 years.

    “Using the ancient trees we could measure, and date, the spike in atmospheric radiocarbon levels caused by the collapse of Earth’s magnetic field.”

    While scientists already knew the magnetic poles temporarily flipped around 41-42,000 years ago (known as the ‘Laschamps Excursion’), they didn’t know exactly how it impacted life on Earth—if at all.

    https://phys.org/news/2021-02-ancient-relic-earth-history-years.html
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    The Laschamps event was a geomagnetic excursion (a short reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field). It occurred 41,400 years ago, during the end of the Last Glacial Period. It is known from geomagnetic anomalies discovered in the 1960s in the Laschamps lava flows in Clermont-Ferrand, France.

    The Laschamps event was the first known geomagnetic excursion and remains the most thoroughly studied among the known geomagnetic excursions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laschamp_event#:~:text=The%20Laschamps%20event%20was%20a,in%20Clermont%2DFerrand%2C%20France.

    Reply
  5. Mikel

    Re: “Can Elites Start the Climate Revolution?”
    Adam Tooze, Foreign Policy

    “The batteries that drive the F-150 Lightning electric truck are large enough to power a house for three days…”

    Flashback: the Tesla wreck in Texas where it took hours to put out its battery on fire.

    And good thing mining is more environmentally friendly than drilling and that the constant planned obsolescence in the auto industry is too…

    Pretty much about to get increased mining and no significant decrease in drilling.

    Reply
    1. tegnost

      I love the way he promotes the f 150 as a “work truck”…
      https://www.ford.com/trucks/f150/
      that is a car with an unusable bed…
      It’s not the ’90’s anymore adam…the base price for a 1990 was a little over 11,000 bucks
      this model base price 28,000 plus
      average construction worker still making +/- $30/hr, plus has the ACA fiscal cliff to deal with
      https://www.ajmc.com/view/who-is-affected-the-most-by-the-aca-subsidy-cliff-older-rural-americans-report-says
      how convenient that that is essentially what your 25-30/hr carpenter makes.
      Must stop wage growth in order to preserve wealth growth…
      Remind me why this stupid country is worth saving?
      Oh and by the way a person earning 7.25 hr can can work 30 hours and have free care

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Because if you lose the country, you’ll still have all the stupid. But without any country left to moderate or control or dilute the stupid.

        It would just be pure stupid, from Sea to Rising Sea.

        Reply
    2. Pwelder

      Tooze wrote a seriously good book about the financial disasters of 2008-9. It’s still on my shelf, along with Econned.

      The one he’s currently working on, wrt the doings around climate policy, is likely to have some serious shortcomings – he appears to have swallowed whole the “settled science” and its alleged net-zero-real-quick implications for policy. Can’t blame him too much – the man is a historian, after all.

      IMO the most important part of his FP essay is his account of developments in Germany. Their Constitutional Court has set up a situation in which the collision between political climateering and math/physics will occur well ahead of schedule, while the current generation of politicians is still in office.

      There has been too much posturing and arm-waving around net zero, without anything like an honest analysis of costs and benefits. Anything that forces a detailed to-do list, with timelines, will mitigate the damage from policy blunders by bringing forward the development of reality-based policies. With luck, the Germans may develop some lessons learned for our own leaders.

      Reply
  6. Watt4Bob

    IMHO, the interview with Dr. Aruna Khilanani, and the comments, even more so, confirm her observations.

    The whole situation reminds me intensely of the ‘unconscious‘ hatred exhibited by PMC democrats towards socialism in general, and Bernie Sanders in particular during the last two presidential campaigns.

    More and more I find I can propose to Trump supporters that the PTB are frightened by the prospect of the white working class joining in solidarity with BLM supporters, and the eventual necessity of joining forces with BLM if any real progress is to be made in providing material improvement in our lives.

    OTOH, when voicing the same ideas towards my more ‘woke‘ family and friends, I’m often met with barely concealed anger, behind clenched teeth, and smug incredulity that I could propose anything so obviously ‘crazy‘.

    The only thing I would encourage Dr. Khilanani to consider more carefully is that the white PMC has the same pathological aversion to honest consideration of class, as it does toward race relations.

    And that pathological aversion extends to condoning dishonesty, corruption, and actual violence.

    Reply
      1. Watt4Bob

        And we’ve been this way before.

        Fred Hampton was murdered by Chicago police, many think it was because his work building the Rainbow Coalition, uniting people based on class rather than race was so threatening to the Chicago political and economic elite.

        The Black Panther party was making headway with outreach to the Young Patriots, an ostensibly white supremacist group in Chicago just before Hampton was killed.

        Reply
        1. marym

          I don’t know enough to comment on whether Boogaloo Bois are racist and/or potential allies to anti-racist movements. However, before the time of the steps toward alliance with the Chicago Black Panther Party, the YPO wasn’t racist. From the first link:

          “Defying the stereotypes that they were ignorant “hillbillies” and hopeless racists, Uptown Chicago’s southern migrants and their allies organized the Young Patriots Organization(YPO) in 1968. Uptown had some of the worst poverty in the city and living conditions were grim with hunger and poor health for many.

          The Young Patriots grew out of the work of the Uptown JOIN organization, a unique collaboration between southern migrants and young radicals from the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). First organized in 1964, JOIN organized community meetings, marches, rent strikes, pickets and civil disobedience to protest the poverty producing policies of the Mayor Richard J. Daley Democratic Machine and its corporate sponsors.”

          One of the site admins is Hy Thurman, mentioned in the Jacobin post. Currently the site has some expired links to what looks like a previous site for the organization, but if they can get it together it will have a lot of historical information.

          https://yporc.org/ypointro/
          The Young Patriots Organization: Power to the People
          https://www.jacobinmag.com/2017/05/black-panthers-young-patriots-fred-hampton

          Thank you for the comment. It’s never not a good time to remember Fred Hampton, but that’s a very anonymous link format in your comment!

          Reply
          1. Watt4Bob

            Thanks for your comment.

            I searched for “Panthers and White Supremacists” for the link.

            That’s because I couldn’t remember the details, but had watched a documentary on the Panther Party, and Fred Hampton which included a segment that examined the meeting with the Young Patriots.

            I do remember that the documentary clearly noted the ease with which the two groups came to understand their common interests.

            IIRC, J. Edgar Hoover was especially concerned, maybe obsessed with the thought that a Black Messiah figure was going arise and that he and the FBI had to keep track of anyone fitting the part.

            I worked the summers in Chicago in the late sixties and early seventies, I remember kids my age talking about Rising Up Angry, my impression at the time was that they were ‘B’ Squad, junior revolutionaries.

            I have no idea if that impression is accurate since my political leanings at the time were in flux.

            By the time I graduated high school, I was well aware that Fred Hampton had been murdered, and that his murder was politically motivated.

            Reply
        2. neo-realist

          And arguably by extension, he was threatening to the national and international political and economic elites with his emphasis on building class unity. The fact that Hampton was also a very powerful and charismatic speaker in a class with the likes of Malcolm X and King facilitated the need by the PTB to have him removed from the national scene.

          Reply
    1. Oh

      The people who looked down on “colored people” became so used to it that they find it to be normal to be racially prejudiced; this applies to people who think that belong to the higher class too.

      Reply
    2. hunkerdown

      Or, that the white PMC has the same pathological aversion to honest consideration of class as any other races within the PMC, and that society is not simply a thrust block for her private power.

      Frankly, this extremist and her violent ideations shouldn’t be working around people, let alone with them.

      Reply
      1. Watt4Bob

        IMHO, that “violent ideation” was expressed in the service of giving measure to the level of frustration she has experienced in attempting to talk about race with members of the PMC, or mis-management class, if you will.

        There is plenty of “violent ideation” going on, and a lot of “acting out” too, much of it was until very recently encouraged by our president.

        I am not as afraid of this woman’s ideation as I am of those guys I see on TV, carrying AR15s.

        But then I think of the violence that we all have endured at the hands of the clueless PMC, and their hand-waving, and virtue-signaling. I think of the violence done the working class by *Biden, Obama, and the Clintons.

        And I wonder why isn’t everyone marching together?

        *Neera Tanden, Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers …

        “a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

        Reply
    3. ArvidMartensen

      What I saw here was a person enraged by their experience of white condescension, gaslighting, devaluation, stigma, and further enraged by their powerlessness to have the perpetrators recognize or care about the hurt they inflicted.
      The majority in a society can stigmatize, devalue, bully and gaslight the minority with few consequences. And do. For fun. And profit.
      Any society can be stratified in different ways, and each way comes with stigma, condescension, gaslighting etc of the “others” from the majority: “others” include physically disabled people, mentally disabled people, neurodiverse people, different gendered people, women, minority racial groups to mention a few.

      Stigma in action is easily seen in the jobs market in the current white, male, capitalist society.
      Who has trouble getting a good job? Who is paid a lesser amount for the same work if they do get a good job, or indeed, any job?
      Well, disabled people, minority race people, indigenous people, women, autistic people, people who struggle with mental health. White women are still paid less than white males, including in a lot of professional jobs, and even CEOs.

      Even though white, male, capitalist countries are all for equality and democracy, you only have to look at who runs such countries to see that this is all marketing hype and chloroform for the masses. The real power and money is still held by white men: Biden, Gates, Zuckerberg, Trump, Johnson, Macron, Putin, Buffet, etc etc.
      But change is coming. Because rage and numbers. And China.

      Reply
      1. fumo

        The real power and money is still held by white men: Biden, Gates, Zuckerberg, Trump, Johnson, Macron, Putin, Buffet, etc etc.

        Changing the oligarchy to a racially and gender diverse group, as most of us have figured out, would change almost nothing from the perspective of the oppressed. The racialist framing is stale and crude ‘divide and conquer’ mind[familyblog]ery.

        Reply
        1. ArvidMartensen

          Sorry, I should have said physically abled, mentally abled, neurotypical, straight, white males.
          I implied but did not state these but they are sort of a given as there are not a lot of disabled, neurodiverse, non-white, gay, trans people leading capitalist societies.

          Then you could have called my comments “stale and crude racialist, feminist, disablist, neurodiversist, mental healthist” divide and conquer etc

          Reply
    4. Dirk77

      Katie Herzog gets my respect for asking such interesting questions, yet in such a nonjudgmental way. As if she were just trying to understand. A model for journalists, and everyone really. The interview made Khilanani seem like a real person. She might be nuts, but I at least got a sense of where she was at. Amusing Khilanani talking about U of Chicago as being so hot into CRT. I guess neoliberalism was just so yesterday and perhaps then CRT is the next parade to hell.

      Reply
      1. Alfred

        I recognize what she says as being related to suffering years of abuse–I had dreams like that about my abusers. That is what made me realize I had to get away from those people.

        Reply
  7. Robert Hahl

    40 Years of AIDS: I’m still reading “And the Band Played On” (1987), about the beginning of AIDS. The usual comparison between the rapid responses to Legionnaire’s Disease (veterans) and Toxic Shock Syndrome (women) vs. AIDS (homophobia) are misleading, because those earlier diseases were too easy. Bureaucracies are not prepared to deal with new hard problems.

    The long latency period of HIV (more than 5 years) made it impossible to eliminate without costing lots of money (e.g., testing donated blood for hepatitis antibodies and T-cell ratios). It was always easier to minimize the threat, for example by comparing the small number of existing AIDS cases with the large total number of blood units given each year, or the large total number of people in the US. Picking the denominator of a risk-ratio is an art in public health. Half way through the book, it becomes obvious that experts would have lied about AIDS anyway.

    The overriding concerns of most policy makers are: Don’t panic the horses, and don’t raise the cost of business or government. They lied freely and without remorse until something controversial became undeniable. Regarding a blood transfusion that had obviously caused AIDS in a baby, published in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (not peer reviewed) to get it out fast:

    “Nothing exists in the peer-reviewed medical literature — not one case! said Bove. “…Evidence for such blood transmission is lacking.” Years later, when it was clear that hundreds were dying because the blood industry and federal regulators at the FDA heeded the calls of people like Joseph Bove, the doctor would pull a copy of his speech from his shelf at Yale to show that his 1983 presentation at NYC was, technically, accurate. “I wrote ‘evidence is minimal,’ ” said Bove. “I was extremely cautious about my choice of words. I didn’t want to go on the record either way. I was smart enough not to say it wasn’t there. Technically, I was not inaccurate.”

    Reply
    1. HotFlash

      My BFF had a hysterectomy in 1983 for bad, bad endometriosis. She was under anesthetic for maybe 6 hours while they scraped and scraped and scraped. After the surgery her surgeon and his nurse (husband and wife team) met with me briefly, he did most of the talking. They did not transfuse her, they were pretty sure they got it all, they did not transfuse her, she lost much blood (IIRC, they said 5 pints, which may be wrong, she is just tiny) and would be pale and weak until she replenished her blood supply, they did not transfuse her. Srsly, three times in a conv that lasted 10 minutes, tops. I thought it odd at the time.

      Then came the blood scandal and the Krever Enquiry which exposed the cover-up. At some point she got a letter that any person who had received a blood transfusion between some date and another (included her surg) should get screened or something and I recalled what Dr. B had said. So, pretty sure he knew something was wrong with the blood supply even back then.

      So when people like IMDoc and Dr. Pierre Kory say something that flies in the face of the official narrative, I am inclined to examine the official narrative verrrry carefully.

      Reply
      1. Lois

        My godmother got a hysterectomy around the same time, and she did get transfused. She ended up with Hepatitis C that required one liver transplant and killed her a few years ago at age 71. She is “lucky” that Hep C is all she got.

        Reply
      2. Leftcoastindie

        I can confirm that. Back in 1984 my wife and I were visiting friends in Kansas City. The wife was a nurse who worked with hemophiliacs and I remember her telling us that a large portion of her patients were HIV positive. I don’t think it became news until around 86 or 87 though.

        Reply
    2. Mikel

      It was remembering this from the 80s that made me think the Covid would get out of hand as soon as they started focusing on the race of Covid victims more than their place of employment.

      Reply
    1. RMO

      Just for starters, homo sapiens are part of the animal kingdom and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen some of us using names when teaming up…

      Reply
  8. allan

    And now, a message from the House of Lords:

    Joe Manchin: Why I’m voting against the For the People Act [Charleston Gazette-Mail]

    … As such, congressional action on federal voting rights legislation must be the result of both Democrats and Republicans coming together to find a pathway forward or we risk further dividing and destroying the republic we swore to protect and defend as elected officials. …

    The truth, I would argue, is that voting and election reform that is done in a partisan manner will all but ensure partisan divisions continue to deepen. …

    The Senate, its processes and rules, have evolved over time to make absolute power difficult while still delivering solutions to the issues facing our country and I believe that’s the Senate’s best quality. …

    I believe that partisan voting legislation will destroy the already weakening binds of our democracy, and for that reason, I will vote against the For the People Act. Furthermore, I will not vote to weaken or eliminate the filibuster. …

    It’s way past time to reopen hearings in the House on EpiPen pricing.

    Reply
    1. hunkerdown

      That’s fine. FTPA was really just a bipartisan oligarchy entrenchment act anyway. Anything that gives color of fact to Craig Timberg’s deranged ProPornOT article is better a dead letter than a live law.

      Not impossible that he gets bought off in some grand “bargain” where both sides favor the ruling classes, and we once again get to pay for our own imprisonment.

      Reply
    2. Nikkikat

      When Manchin spouts this nonsense, whether with regard to infrastructure, filibuster or voting, I picture Mitch McConnell writing Joe a big check. But it could be Chuck Schumer….

      Reply
  9. Alfred

    Say a family spends $80,000 a year on a credit card

    and that is where they totally lost yours truly.

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      Yes. If our family spent $80,000 a year on credit cards, we would end up $92,000 in debt the next year, (assuming an interest rate of 15%.)
      As I like to quip to any retail worker who is “prompted” to ask if I want to open a ‘branded’ credit card account; “You obviously haven’t read my credit report.”

      Reply
  10. The Rev Kev

    “US to donate 750,000 COVID jabs to Taiwan amid China row”

    This story needs a bit of parsing. So even though the team from the US arrived on a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III freighter, they did not actually bring any vaccines. What they actually delivered was a promise of Covid jabs but with no details of what sort of vaccines they would get or even when. Vapourware. Japan, in contrast, delivered 1.24 million doses of AstraZeneca on Friday for free. And that shipment more than doubled the number of shots the island has received to date.

    So to be pragmatic about it, even if they had brought those doses with them, that would have only been a start. There are 23,570,000 people in Taiwan and at two doses each, they would need a total of 47,140,000 doses this year. So for all the people on that island to be vaccinated, they will need 46,390,000 doses more. The smart way would have been to help the Taiwanese to set up a manufacturing facility to produce the vaccines themselves but we know that that option was never going to be on the table.

    Reply
    1. Procopius

      The obvious solution that pops into my mind would be for them to license and manufacture the Sinovid vaccine, but that’s unfortunately impossible.

      Reply
  11. jr

    It’s fun to see the words “The Psychopathic Problem…” show up next to the icon of Bari Weiss on my tabs first thing in the morning. I opened a few more tabs just to get the text to fit right.

    Once again we see the divisive power of IDpol at work. With it’s performative public tantrums it provides powerful fuel for hustlers like Weis and simultaneously strives to deepen racial animus, further scattering Left organization. As well as being a huge waste of academic resources/time on white PMC flagellation rituals. At least I’m overt about my rituals, these doofs think they are actually changing the world.

    Reply
    1. Pelham

      What’s fascinates me about idpol is the whites who buy into it and confess their shortcomings and the “work” they need to do (whatever that may be). In doing so, they exercise a sort of meta-racism, as if to say, Hey, look at me, whites like me are so superior that only we can uniquely acknowledge our transgressions and make amends. No other racial or ethnic group is even in a position to do so.

      Reply
      1. jr

        Quite right, it’s as if their moral struggle is the only one that counts, people of color are a sort of “just so” story against which white sins are judged. And of course redeemed through pain and penitence. The person of color in this example is free from the boundaries of polite society, freely hurling threats that would get another person dragged away in cuffs, because she is ultimately being denied her full humanity. She can say what she wishes because she is there to lash their shoulders, not to speak her mind. She’s just part of the show, akin to a dominatrix hired to brutalize a crowd of bored party goers at some Upper West Side freak party she exists for the amusement of others.

        Reply
      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        They are wokewashing themselves as part of a broader strutting-of-their-superior-morality stuff. They expect moral credit for their flashy display of their White Guilt.

        Reply
  12. Mikel

    B.O. says in tht clip that ACA establishes principles for universal coverage.
    It establishes neoliberal principals for bleed ’em dry and if they’re broke they die “coverage.”

    The corporate tools called the government are insurance and pharma salesmen.
    They have come out with gusto and all kinds of ideas that rally around corporate profits.
    Never have seen the same zeal from elected officials for any policy that doesn’t make some private corp rich.

    Reply
      1. Nikkikat

        A big big YES to never hearing or seeing BO again…..ever!
        IF only someone would take his Twitter away…

        Reply
  13. Mikel

    RE: “Putin accuses U.S. of using dollar as tool of economic, political war” Reuters

    “…and said Russia may consider settling transactions for oil and gas in other national currencies and the euro.”

    Their gas pipeline is also almost finished.

    Buckle up, folks.

    Reply
  14. alfred

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9655227/Moment-Amazon-delivery-woman-viciously-beats-woman-67-called-b-ch.html

    A 21-year-old Amazon delivery woman viciously beat another woman, 67, who had called her a bi**ch after the San Francisco-area driver told her to ‘check her white privilege’ when she’d complained about a delayed package.

    This is grade s hool stuff. you just dont say things like that [bit h] and e pe t to li e. Ha ing keyboard issues, your brain will do the rest. lass warfare that I re e ber well fro y hildhood.

    Reply
      1. Alfred

        It is about being intelligent. How hard is it to keep your trap shut and not insult people who are in pain? I was taught this–white privilege is not taught this–white privilege says what it wants and says f**k your pain. So they get a dose of their own poison pill and yell for the police. Bit*h is erbal assault. The del. person would get fired for saying that to a customer, will you see where a little compassion for the del. person is in order? This woman learned nothing, and she may get shot ne t time.

        Reply
        1. Count Zero

          People can be rude and unpleasant. We all encounter this in our everyday life. But it is never justifiable to physically assault them. Gender, age, ‘race’ of either party is entirely irrelevant. And I really can’t see why a third party would want to justify that kind of violence.

          Reply
          1. Alfred

            Who said it was justifiable? I point out that you do not act rude and unpleasant yourself to rude and unpleasant people. That is a good way to get hurt. calling someone a bit*h is not justifiable, and it is stupid, and you get no sympathy from me if you get your a** beat. Try a little kindness, and make someone s day a little better by understanding it is not their fault you did not get your package, and they are stressed with the pressure, FFS. Take some responsibility for the energy you put out.

            Reply
    1. Maritimer

      If such reports are true, it must raise serious liability issues for physicians treating Covid patients. Along the lines of “what did you know and when did you know it?”. In addition, considering there are such reports, how do physicians treat themselves, family members and friends? Then, of course, one must consider how those with influence, wealth and power are treated.

      Reply
  15. Mikel

    RE: “The Notorious London Spy School Churning Out Many of the World’s Top Journalists” Mint Press

    So why continue to call them journalists???

    Reply
    1. ambrit

      We like to differentiate between the Oxford Unabridged definition of “journalist,” and the Newspeak Very Abridged definition of same.

      Reply
    2. The Rev Kev

      Fortunately Americans journalist have no need of this London Spy School. They have their own Columbia University School of Journalism for that – and they are full of CIA spooks.

      Reply
  16. chris

    The Bari Weiss Common Sense article on psychopathic whiteness…wow. Thank you so much for posting that. I’m really not sure what to say beyond that is as accurate a distillation of CRT proponents beliefs as I’ve ever read. Also, I really do wonder if the people pushing that stuff understand what’s going to happen if they continue. Racially based civil war is a nasty business.

    But the part about the professor feeling more comfortable with conservative people who can at least admit they feel something without putting up layers of performative BS was hilarious.

    Reply
    1. flora

      Love all these “white saviors of the black race” touting their saviory-ness through CRT. What an ego trip. /heh

      Reply
    2. Carolinian

      How does that work? Are you talking about some kind of epigenetics or the passing down of the collective unconscious? I’m an American, a white woman, I don’t have any direct experience with colonialism although I’m sure I’ve benefited from it in some ways, but it’s hard to see how I would be traumatized by this thing that happened before I was born.

      I don’t think you do feel traumatized. White people experience this as normal. That’s their level of functioning that feels normal but it’s picked up in everything. It’s picked up in history, it’s picked up in all aspects of culture.

      Could you give me an example?

      Of what?

      Of how this is picked up in all aspects of culture. How do you see the after-effects of colonialism manifesting itself in the white mind today?

      It’s going to be hard for me to give you a one sentence soundbite on this but I would say, a high level of guilt. I’ve never seen anything like this before. Other than in white people not eating bread, an incredible level of shame. Feeling really exposed all the time. A lot of perfectionistic tendencies. Not letting themselves move forward. Experiencing themselves as passive a lot.

      For a psychiatrist she seems to have very little insight into human psychology but then is that a surprise? I’d say the truth is that rather than being dogged by subconscious guilt most white people don’t think about this at all.

      And that’s normal and arguably applies to people of all colors–doing what is needed to get by and turning a blind eye to the many invisible cruelties that make that possible (our ruthless animal mistreating food chain comes to mind).

      We certainly live in a world where more empathy and respect for others is needed. Wanting to shoot white people in the head is not that.

      Reply
    3. lyman alpha blob

      Indeed. It would be one think if this person were ranting on a street corner, which is where you’d expect to find that kind of rhetoric, but lecturing at Yale?!?!? People like this need to stop being promoted or the backlash is going to be ugly. I mean Bari Weiss isn’t exactly my go-to when I’m looking for a ‘common sense’ opinion, and when you’ve lost her…

      I remember a guy who used to make the rounds of some ostensibly progressive blogs 10 or 12 years ago and his schtick was to claim white males were being oppressed, much to the annoyance of most everyone who ran across him including the other white males who didn’t feel particularly put upon. He was mostly written off as a unter-bridge dweller who should be deprived of sustenance. I’m guessing he might be getting a more enthusiastic reception today. Which would be kind of scary itself.

      Reply
      1. DJG, Reality Czar

        lyman alpha blob: Yep, although Bari Weiss has too many agendas to be reliable. Let’s not suddenly add her to a list of insightful commentators.

        I’m going to fairly blunt about Dr. Aruna Khilanani’s problem, because I also am a Maroon. I went there in the glorious era of Friedman and Becker and their immoralist economist acolytes, who still dominate the economics department and the business school. Then they slimed into the law school under the guise of the quack medicine called Law and Economics.

        Here is Khilanani describing her intellectual formation at our beloved alma mater: “My masters is in humanities and the focus is largely on critical theory. I don’t know if you’re familiar with the University of Chicago, but it was very critical theory-heavy when I went. I did pre-med stuff in undergrad and had always been thinking of these issues. I also majored in English Lit and wondered about other ways of thinking.”

        As I read through the interview, I began to get a strong whiff of the rage of a certain kind of immigrant or second-generation person who just isn’t getting the benefits of being white. So if the personal is the political, I wonder if Khilanani is bearing the weight of caste. (Given that so few Indian immigrants to the U S of A are dalits.)

        Also, given that the economist immoralists at the U of C have never acknowledged the damage caused by their hypotheses, not even in Chile, where the evidence is way too strong, I have a feeling that she, too, being a “theorist,” loves theory more than human beings.

        No wonder Hannah Arendt didn’t stick around U Chicago.

        Reply
        1. lyman alpha blob

          Immoralists like Leo Strauss – looks like he and Arendt were there at the same time. I would have run far away too.

          In glancing at his wiki entry, Mr. Noble Lie appears to be a proponent of Plato/Socrates’ theory of governance. I’ve taken a few shots on NC at that old duo lately – the fact that Strauss was an advocate in favor leads me to think that my own assessment of Plato/Socrates being authoritarian leaning jerk-offs is the correct one.

          Would that every Khilanani/Strauss/Socrates had a Xanthippe to dump a chamber pot on their head and knock a little sense into them.

          Reply
          1. ambrit

            Oh, poor Xanthippe was the exception that proved the rule. Ancient Greek women, at least in Athens, for which we have the best records, were legally and socially subservient to their husbands. All ‘proper’ women were expected to marry, usually at 13 or 14 years of age. They could not vote, hold office, own land, etc.
            See: https://www.worldhistory.org/article/927/women-in-ancient-greece/
            Strauss was definitely an ‘Immoralist.’ somehow, I feel more inclined to honour the ‘Immoralists’ as chronicled by Gide than the Straussian cohorts.

            Reply
          2. QuicksilverMessenger

            Yes I saw your comment the other day about Socrates and cannot help but repost my reply for anyone interested in what Socrates was really about:

            The real meaning of the Republic, and of Socrates, as is often the case, is hiding in plain sight. It has nothing to do with an actual city, nor is it a political treatise, nor an argument for ‘elitism’ or ‘authoritariansm’. It is meant of course as an analogy to the actual structure of the human being- psychic/intellect, emotional/ spirited element, instinctive/ like and dislike- as it is usually constituted, and what it can, and indeed, is meant to be.
            And of course, Socrates is always vindicated: We human beings are quite literally ‘upside down’, ruled by like and dislike (the ‘lower’ nature), fortified by the emotional element, of which the intellect only can serve and be blinded by. There is no harmony between the elements- they are all performing the wrong tasks. We need only to look around at ourselves to see this is so.
            But it can, and rightly should, be otherwise: The state of “Justice”, a true life outside of the cave, a human being ‘right side up’. It’s funny because Socrates says over and over (I once kept a count of how many times he says it) that we are building a city only to look at man writ large; as an analogy so to study the structure of the human organism. The building of the Republic is only a cover story to hide a real teaching from a master.

            Reply
              1. QuicksilverMessenger

                The proper state of a human being, according to Socrates, is a state called ‘dike’, or ‘justice’. Literally means “the state of him who is such as he ought to be”. And of course this presumes that we are almost always not as we ought to be- again, we are upside down, watching shadows against a cave wall, and the most important part, we do not even suspect that this is the case.

                I was considering the Sermon on the Mount the other day, and was pondering “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (‘righteousness’ being one of those words with a lot of horrible connotations in this country of money grubbing preachers and Calivinists, and judgers in general). But the word for ‘righteousness’ in the text is the Greek, wait for it, ‘dike’, our Socratic ‘justice’ again. This is not an accident, or a coincidence.

                Reply
            1. Henry Moon Pie

              Thank you very much for that informative synopsis. Your description of the “upside down” man brought to mind the way I understand Lao-Tzu’s related viewpoint in the Tao te Ching.

              To know without knowing is best.

              Taking that in the consistent context that learning is worthless or worse, the intelligent are to be mistrusted, I take Lao-Tzu to mean that an intuitive “knowing” that is consonant with the Tao is preferable to the intellect and reason. I also understand the love for “uncut wood” as a preference for a human that was closer to Nature and less under the influence of her/her own culture.

              So are Lao-Tzu and Plato on opposite sides of this? The Socrates character in Plato?

              Reply
              1. QuicksilverMessenger

                I think for Socrates, we are fundamentally living an unharmonious inner life, but that it is possible to live harmoniously; to transform. That is, it is not a question of ‘thinking’ about things. It is a question of being

                Reply
        2. Henry Moon Pie

          While all you write is true, I’d just offer one Maroon counterexample: Bruce Lincoln. He’s fought against most of those tendencies you highlight, and had some success at least in embarrassing them.

          Reply
    4. Nce

      The professor has a right to feel rage- I imagine pumping bullets into the brains of every billionaire on the planet- but I don’t understand what this “whiteness” thing is. She claims to have cut her ties with her “WIPOC” friends, but what does that mean? Why does she not discuss class at all? Is “whiteness” just a divisive way to describe upscale liberal colonialistic POC sensibilities? I probably get harassed by cops and judged less than worthy of survival (poor ugly old “white” unemployed houseless trash that eats bread out of dumpsters) than she, someone clearly of the POC. And dare I point out, she appears to be South Asian, but that’s kind of the point- you can’t know someone’s heritage from their appearance. Maybe she is “white” for all I know. If a shooting class war ever developed, judging just from appearances, she and I would be on opposite sides, and not because I’m supposedly “white”.

      Reply
    5. The Rev Kev

      I would imagine that this professor would be quite popular in a lot of elite circles. So long as people are fighting each other about race or religion or whatever, they do not fight the real fight – that against the billionaire class. So this professor is actually just another ‘useful idiot’.

      Reply
      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        I read the interview, and I have read the comments, and then I looked for photo-images of Dr. Khilanani. I had imagined she must have been an American Black American who had been racistly abused enough over time to have earned this rage and hate.

        But I gather that she is Indian, so descended from voluntary immigrants. So her rage is purely performative and is a lucrative hustle, a racket she works just like DiAngelo works the White Fragility/ White Privilege racket. For money and in Khilanani’s case, for professional notoriety and social and professional advancement at Yale. And she may be so psycho-socially invested in her own race-warrior persona as to derive endo-cerebral self-administered dopamine release pleasure from it as well. It would be a challenging game to figure out where the cleavage planes inside her brain are and how to get her to melt down and go Chernobyl in public view. It sure would be funny if some genuinely right-to-be-aggrieved African American were to ask her . . . . “Who died and made YOU Black?”

        As to her scientifically illiterate rant about ” White people not eating bread because of guilt masked as fake gluten allergies” . . . one hopes she eats enough high-glyphosate bread ( which is increasingly suspected as the real cause of all the misattributed-to-gluten digestive problems) to develope all these intestinal problems her own self, so she can then decide whether it really is a displacement illusion or not.

        Her “white” friends are luckier than they know that she has ” cut them” out of her life.

        Reply
      2. Darthbobber

        Well, she’s apparently deriving her professional income from those willing to pay the requisite fees for her variety of intensive therapy. Which don’t come cheap. Inclined to suspect that her client base is composed almost exclusively of those whose psychological sins she assails here.

        Probably a large overlap between these clients and those willing to shell out a few grand to have some well-to-do black women over to explain their racism to them over cocktails and a 5 to 7 course meal.

        Reply
        1. The Rev Kev

          ‘Darthbobber
          June 7, 2021 at 9:44 am’

          I think that I read that those women are paying about $5,000 a night to get themselves insulted. You would also earn brownie points by donating $5,000 to feed the homeless but not as many as attending one of those sessions.

          Reply
        2. Procopius

          Your remark reminds me that Sigmund Freud developed his theories of Oedipus and Electra complexes because his rich Austrian nobility patients were telling him such horrible stories of things that happened in their childhood that he chose to believe they were fantasizing. Surely, rich Austrian nobility could not be such child abusers.

          Reply
  17. km

    Re: Brazil. No [familyblog] Sherlock, the CIA were involved.

    How should this be this different from every other right wing coup in Latin America since 1948 or so?

    Reply
    1. km

      O yeah, the Brazilwire revelations won’t embarrass the MSM in the slightest.

      They’ll just memory hole their previous pronouncements and move on, never so much as missing a beat.

      Reply
    2. NotTimothyGeithner

      It’s not, but Brazil is a big country to declare war against even if it’s just a regional power. That’s what Obama-Biden did. Biden has his own spying scandal in Europe now. China and Russia can offer anything they need, and there isn’t a pesky threat to the RCC that right wing clerics can use to frighten people the way they might when the USSR was around. AMLO in Mexico and Lula in Brazil. That’s a big deal. With other right wing regimes relying on being installed by US coups, the conditions for change are there. After all the Monroe Doctrine is over 200 years old.

      With mass communication, countries aren’t going to sit around and wait on the imperial court for advice. The US threw the elected President of Brazil in prison. There isn’t even a retirement available anymore.

      Reply
    3. Ed Miller

      Since 1948? What about the interference in Latin America which Marine General Smedley Butler complained about in his writings? Coups in Latin America go way back, so Elon Musk (We’ll coup anywhere we want) does understand history in the Americas. Who knows what else was happening pre-Butler…

      I learned about General Butler here at NC so it’s disappointing to see a lack of history knowledge, even here.

      Reply
      1. Ed Miller

        Apologies to overworked moderators. I don’t understand what triggered moderation. This was not intended to be an attack on whoever posted the comment about “since 1948 or so”.

        Reply
      2. km

        I thought that the CIA was founded in about 1948.

        Yes, the United States has interfered in Latin America for much longer than that.

        Reply
    4. Ed Miller

      Since 1948 limits the involvement to the CIA, but Latin American interference occurred before then. I refer to Marine General Smedley Butler and his efforts to expose military adventures for corporate benefit, but this has been a staple of American foreign policy ever since the US started becoming an industrial power.

      Just stating that the problem goes back further in American history.

      Reply
      1. Procopius

        Gen. Butler need not be your only source. You should read William Appleman Williams’s “The Tragedy of American Foreign Policy.” Unfortunately, he spends too much time in that book on Vietnam, and it’s repetitive, but he does mention some of the lesser known interventions on South America. I’ll bet there are two or three really good books about it out there.

        Reply
  18. The Rev Kev

    “YOU LOVE TO SEE IT: The Stimulus Checks Really Worked”

    1347 AD. The King of England wishes for it to be known that the scraps of bread thrown over the castle walls have made a huge positive impact for millions of English struggling to survive the pandemic and economic crisis. It is true that the food scraps had to be thrown over the walls with the aid of a trebuchet but that was merely to keep the infected away from the castle walls itself lest they be shot with crossbow bolts. Progressive Lords are now pushing laws to expand the food donated with excess pig swill as well but only if it does not encumber local porcine production.

    Reply
  19. griffen

    Yes lets put 100% tariffs on goods imported from China. Why don’t we just institute a Great Recession 2.0? Trump failed to ask China for a pony lol.

    I hope hes not listening to Peter Navarro anymore, but that is not likely I’ll guess. Same for Stephen Moore and the idiocy of righty econ guys who suffer no ills from their own policy ideas.

    Reply
      1. The Rev Kev

        What makes you think that the Chinese want western weapons? Theirs work and I see that the Chinese Marine Corps have just gotten themselves new tanks for example-

        https://asiatimes.com/2021/06/chinas-marines-add-type-15-firepower/

        The British on the other hand have come unstuck with their purchases of the Ajax armoured fighting vehicles from US-based General Dynamics. They cannot be driven safely over 32 km/h (20 mph), cannot reverse over an obstacle more than 20cm (8 inches) high, are so noisy and vibrate so bad that they make their crews sick in only an hour or so, are heavier than any WW2 tank and the vibrations mean that they cannot shoot on the move-

        https://www.smh.com.au/world/europe/so-embarrassed-british-tanks-cannot-be-driven-safely-over-32-km-h-leaked-report-reveals-20210604-p57y1l.html

        I won’t mention the US Marine Corps tanks for comparison for a very good reason. The USMC got rid off all their tanks last year and no longer have any as in N-O-N-E.

        Reply
        1. fresno dan

          The Rev Kev
          June 6, 2021 at 10:08 am
          My Saturday night video movie was War Dogs
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_Dogs_(2016_film)
          Some good tidbits about how much it costs to outfit a single infantryman. AND a very entertaining movie.
          War is a racket – you can fight them for any number of reasons, but the people selling arms are doing it to make the most money possible.

          Reply
          1. The Rev Kev

            ‘fresno dan
            June 6, 2021 at 12:58 pm’

            I managed to see only half that movie but recognized the real life story straight away. There is a Rolling Stone article linked in that article and when I first read about it, I wondered at the time how the Pentagon could have been so stupid as to take major bids from these two goof balls-

            https://www.rollingstone.com/feature/the-stoner-arms-dealers-how-two-american-kids-became-big-time-weapons-traders-176604/

            Reply
      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        This effectivlely already happened being reliant on the West for weapon innovation for the weapons to fight Europeans. It led to China being carved up. They won’t do this again. Besides US weapons are built with oceans and waste lands in mind. The Chinese would want weapons to counter the US if they perceived a potential conflict (with nukes, they may not). They only keep 300 nukes around, knowing full well that it’s game over for the planet when they are used. So keeping thousands is just stupid.

        The US designs weapons to fight imaginary enemies and guys who could be taken out by retrofitted Cessnas.

        Reply
    1. The Rev Kev

      I saw an article the other day about those tariffs that Trump placed on China. They ran the numbers and found that China is paying less that 8% of tariff costs. Guess who is paying the rest? I wonder if this has anything to do with the recent bump in inflation?

      https://reason.com/2021/05/24/china-is-paying-about-7-percent-of-tariff-costs-americans-are-paying-the-rest/

      But I’ve seen how all this works out in practice-

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJ5asE6N7ow (1:42 mins)

      Reply
      1. griffen

        That video clip is hilarious! At times I have to wonder, are we living in a wild Utopia that even a Twain or a Mel Brooks couldn’t possibly top with their own unique twists?

        That’s a good plan though, selling weapons that may, or may not, be broadly effective. Extended warranty should cover it.

        Reply
      2. JP

        I thought everyone knew by now that importers pay the tariffs not exporters. If the Chinese are paying 8% it is only because they have made concessions to some importers. It was much in the news when the tariffs were first imposed that the consumer would ultimately pay the price. Anyone who didn’t know that drank the koolaid.

        Reply
    2. Nikkikat

      Gray and white kitty in the “rubenesque” pose. I will now switch from references to “his portly” self to calling him rubenesque, he was really tired of my denigrating his physique.
      Thanks it brightened our day.

      Reply
    3. Mikel

      When govt stimulus stops, the US and the world still expects US consumers to take up a lot of slack.
      In 2022, the weakness of the current safety net funds will be even more apparent.

      Reply
  20. Katniss Everdeen

    RE: The ugly truth behind your fancy rewards credit card Vox

    “The American payment system has evolved into a reverse Robin Hood whereby middle-class and working-class Americans who pay with a debit card, prepaid card, or cash are subsidizing the wealthy, who pay less for everything,” said Aaron Klein, a senior fellow in economic studies at the Brookings Institution who has studied and written about this issue extensively.

    So, this is “news”? “Reverse Robin Hood” is pretty much the business model of american capitalism. You don’t get to a point where 1% of the population “owns” more “wealth” than the bottom 90% without a shitload of reverse Robin Hood-ism.

    This “rewards” subsidization is exasperating in the there-seems-to-be-no-level-too-low-for-rentiers-to-stoop sense, but let’s face it. It takes a certain amount of creativity to steal cash in broad daylight a few dollars at a time. When you’ve already got 90%, there’s not that much left to take.

    Reply
    1. Carly

      This is why cash buyers in smaller businesses can, should, and often do receive a cash discount.

      “What’s the cash price?”

      If you offer $98 for an item that costs $100 and would net the retailer $96 after the 4% credit card rip off, you are both coming out ahead. The key is to say “No receipt” which is usually produced along with a log of sales.

      Same thing with tradesmen, who will usually give you a 20% discount, which is more, if you pay for the parts, than you could write off against 15% capital gains if you were to sell the house.

      If it’s a personal service, it’s a 20% savings to you. Eating in a restaurant offers no cash discounts, unless you know the owner well, but hands all the money to the establishment and whomever you tip.

      Reply
      1. Yves Smith

        1. Anyone who accepts credit or debit cards is not allowed to discount for cash. You are asking the merchant to commit fraud.

        2. A receipt is a title transfer document. No receipt = you don’t own it. Someone unscrupulous could accuse you of shoplifting.

        Reply
        1. Klamath

          2. Lots of stores ask you if you want a receipt or not, or want it emailed, which is of course just data mining. What advantage would there to being unscrupulous with a past, present and future customer?

          1. SFW? America is based on fraud.
          “They pretend to maintain a civil society and we pretend to observe it”, to paraphrase the old Soviet saw about pay and work. It’s Survival Time for the precariat and people will break all the rules.

          Reply
          1. Yves Smith

            I seldom encounter #2 (IIRC Office Max and IIRC Sephora) and many customers prefer e-mailed because they are less likely to lose it if they need to return an item. No one is making the customer accept an e-mailed receipt. And retailers have been doing data mining since the 1990s. Physical merchants getting an e-mail address simply puts them on the same footing as an electronic retailers. Do you not use electronic retailers for security reasons? If not, this is clearly not a real concern on your part.

            And using something like Apple Pay, which consumers seem to like, is far worse in terms of security, since it time-stamps when and where you made the purchase, while most large merchant transactions are bulk processed by the credit card issuer and the credit card company only has the date and about 50/50 as to the store location or store number.

            #2 is “whataboutism” and is a fallacious argument. And the proposition was to try this with small merchant, which is the sort the card networks can afford to cancel.

            But adding a surcharge remains chancy for merchants. For example, the notices appearing in Brooklyn, which were provided by a payment processor, are ambiguous, using the term “discount” to describe what sounds like a surcharge. Card network rules bar surcharges on debit cards. (They may also violate New York law, which requires merchants to display separate cash and credit prices for every item.) Mayday Hardware has separate notices that describe two different programs. Other merchants don’t have any signs disclosing the surcharge at all.

            “We actually discourage this practice,” says Leon Buck, the top lobbyist on financial issues for the National Retail Federation, which would rather save money for merchants and their customers by tightly regulating swipe fees. The surcharges, he says, “are adding to the problem rather than helping.”

            Industry representatives and observers insist big merchants will never risk alienating their customers by making them pay their transaction costs. American Express Co., in an April 2020 study, found, among other things, that three-fourths of consumers would refuse to pay a surcharge—they’d pay cash, shop elsewhere, or leave empty-handed.

            https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-05-07/cash-discounts-come-back-as-small-businesses-tire-of-credit-card-swipe-fees

            I would not patronize a store that imposed a credit card surcharge. You have vastly better consumer protections with a card than cash.

            Reply
            1. Geo

              Good to know! Have a few local shops around the neighborhood I frequent that charge $0.50 for debit or credit card purchases. Didn’t realize that was a shady practice. Don’t want to stop supporting local shops and start using chain stores but might have to bring it up with them.

              Reply
    2. Mikel

      ” It takes a certain amount of creativity to steal cash in broad daylight a few dollars at a time. When you’ve already got 90%, there’s not that much left to take…”

      Wars start when the pickings get thin enough and the targets become bigger prey to satisfy economic growth.

      Reply
  21. Arizona Slim

    Quoting Lambert: [P]reventing #MedicareForAll was and is the #1 policy goal of Democrats.

    This is why I think that M4A will be a major campaign issue in the midterms and the 2024 presidential election. I also predict that some Republican businessman will be leading the charge to the White House, and that his name won’t be Donald Trump.

    Reason: I don’t think that Trump’s health will hold up much longer.

    Any-hoo, our Republican businessman POTUS candidate will regale us with stories about what a PITA the insurance companies were to deal with, how many employee complaints he had about them, why the burden of private insurance hobbled his company in international markets, et cetera, and so forth.

    The Democrats? Let’s just say that they’ll be at a loss for words.

    Reply
    1. chris

      Of course, the punchline to all that will be a Republican candidate who manages to win office by running to the left of our True Blue Democrat front runner and we the people still won’t see M4A :/

      Reply
      1. Carly

        His name is Josh Hawley.
        “former professor who has served as the junior United States senator from Missouri since 2019. A member of the Republican Party, Hawley served as the 42nd attorney general of Missouri from 2017 to 2019, before defeating two-term Democratic incumbent Senator Claire McCaskill in the 2018.” Argued and won cases before the Supreme Court. A brilliant legal mind.

        Reply
        1. marym

          Though he has, like Trump and Republicans in Congress, supported the repeal of the ACA in court and in Congress, none of them have ever bothered to suggest an alternative.

          As far as the Supreme Court – not that promoting the use of religion by a business to deny health insurance coverage for women’s would be anything to be proud of as an issue of healthcare, workers’ rights, or civil rights – but in any case:

          Josh Hawley, college professor and Republican candidate for attorney general, has been touring the state for well over a year speaking at Republican events and touting his accomplishments arguing last year’s Burwell v. Hobby Lobby ruling, but what he actually did in that case seems to be unclear to many Missourians.

          The Hobby Lobby case was argued in March 2014 and the decision was announced on June 30, 2014 – over a year before Hawley’s bar admittance.

          (Link)

          He apparently did legal work on this and another case (decided in 2012) but didn’t argue before the court (Link).

          Reply
    2. neo-realist

      Republicans don’t do M4A or anything that smells of utilizing government assistance for health care for people or any kind of government assistance for people. They could complain about private insurance, but the GOP will be at a loss for words insofar as a better alternative–their definition of running to the left.

      If the dems are half smart, they talk of the republicans as obstructionists to getting infrastructure built, more checks out to people for unemployment. Frame them as Truman did, as the “do-nothing congress”.

      Reply
      1. Aumua

        Yeah it’s a lose-lose situation. Nothing’s changed. It’s delusional to think Republicans are going to back anything like M4A, ever. The sooner we let go of these hopes, the sooner we can get on to the real business at hand: building dual power structures and revolution.

        Reply
  22. The Rev Kev

    “Shin Bet head: Dangerous rise in online incitement, violent discourse must stop”

    Ummm. He never said so but I don’t think that he is talking about the Palestinians here.

    Reply
  23. David Mills

    Third and last time I’m going to try to comment in this subject.

    Nice to see the study on Ivermectin in Peru. Bret Weinstein has had some very good commentary in this regard.

    No real commentary regarding Absolute Risk Reduction vs Relative Risk reduction in anything on vaccines. Sad.

    Reply
    1. R. Gilligan

      Agreed. There was quite the discussion here on NC when Pfizer reported their trial results (see: https://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2020/12/a-document-maven-looks-at-the-pfizer-vaccine-paper-in-the-new-england-journal-of-medicine.html)

      I recall from then, the idea of relative (RRR) vs absolute risk reduction (ARR) was thrashed out. For example, Pfizer claiming 95% efficacy (on the basis of e.g. 20 events in a control group versus 1 event a vaccine group).

      However I don’t recall (and can’t find are mentions of) NNV (number needed to vaccinate, i.e. the calculated number of vaccinations to prevent one event/infection, which is the reciprocal of the ARR).

      Bret Weinstein refers to this paper in one of his recent videos: Outcome Reporting Bias in COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine Clinical Trials
      (https://www.mdpi.com/1648-9144/57/3/199/htm)

      In this paper, the author calculates:

      …available clinical trial data verifies that absolute risk reduction percentages for Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine BNT162b2 [7] and Moderna vaccine mRNA-1273 [8] are, respectively, 0.7%; 95% CI, 0.59% to 0.83%; p = 0.000, and 1.1%; 95% CI, 0.97% to 1.32%; p = 0.000.

      (emphasis mine)

      …article shows that the NNV for the Pfzier-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are 142 (95% CI 122 to 170) and 88 (95% CI 76 to 104), respectively.

      (emphasis mine)

      This means 142 people have to be vaccinated with Pfizer to have a 95% confidence interval that ONE event/case of Corona is reduced. These kinds of numbers were not trumpeted at the time of the Emergency Use Authorisations being approved.

      The paper’s author concludes:

      A critical appraisal of phase III clinical trial data for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine BNT162b2 and Moderna vaccine mRNA-1273 shows that absolute risk reduction measures are very much lower than the reported relative risk reduction measures. Yet, the manufacturers failed to report absolute risk reduction measures in publicly released documents. As well, the U.S FDA Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) did not follow FDA published guidelines for communicating risks and benefits to the public, and the committee failed to report absolute risk reduction measures in authorizing the BNT162b2 and mRNA-1273 vaccines for emergency use. Such examples of outcome reporting bias mislead and distort the public’s interpretation of COVID-19 mRNA vaccine efficacy and violate the ethical and legal obligations of informed consent.

      (emphasis mine)

      Reply
    1. tegnost

      the set up for 2022 has started I guess…next thing thing you know they’ll be talking about min wage…

      Reply
      1. Glen

        No kidding, what a sick joke. Imagine what kind of creative excuses can be used by the Senate and the House in 2022 to ignore everything they were voted in to do. Here’s the standard list:

        We’re out of money.
        The other guys don’t like us.
        The Senate Denier denied it.

        I think we’re down to something like the dog ate it.

        The Democrats are going to lose the Senate and the House in 2022.

        Reply
        1. neo-realist

          A 50/50 senate really makes Harris the dem majority, which doesn’t speak to a mandate that the dems can do whatever they want. Plus two dem senators that act like GOP, which doesn’t help matters for the dems.

          If the voter suppression moves by the GOP take hold without the John Lewis voting act passing, thanks to the entirety of the GOP, plus Manchin and Sinema (defacto GOP), The losses to the senate and the house by the dems are a real possibility.

          Reply
          1. tegnost

            Regarding M4A it’s not just manchin and sinema, they’re just the jerks who won’t increase the minimum wage

            Reply
  24. DJG, Reality Czar

    Pass the Prosecco, Puleo. The usual. So Puleo goes to Italy and discovers–Italy is full of Italians.

    They talk to strangers. They talk directly to strangers and know the second time you show up at their caffè that you drink cappuccino at the wrong times of the day, but what the heck. There is a great stress on formality and courtesy (in Turin, I once saw a bicyclist who had been clipped by a taxi yelling at the taxi driver, all the while using the formal pronoun Lei). There is tremendous stress on equality and the dignity of the person. Italian women do not take much crap (it isn’t only the Italian-American nonna who doesn’t take crap from anyone) and certainly not my mentor in Roma who has taught me so much about being a writer. If you ask enough questions and show a genuine interest, people will open the back room of the shop, take you into the workshop where pottery is being painted, slip you into the museum storeroom, tell you an amazing story.

    These are discoveries? Only to Americans, who obviously are now so parched by the superficiality of U.S. interactions (listen closely because the menu options have changed…)

    The article qualifies for the DJG Axiom about Writing about the Mediterranean World: Anglo-Americans who claim knowledge of the Mediterranean world, and Italy in particular, are almost always wrong.

    I was in Venice, oh, twenty years ago, and I bought something to eat in a little grocery / delicatessen, and as I collected my package, I must have said Arrivederla, to which the owner, a woman of a certain age and directness and goodnatured irony, replied “Magari.”

    Magari. Would that it be so. Maybe.

    Reply
    1. fumo

      (in Turin, I once saw a bicyclist who had been clipped by a taxi yelling at the taxi driver, all the while using the formal pronoun Lei)

      Given that the alternative is to use the familiar personal pronoun (or the even more formal and archaic singular ‘loro’), that’s not surprising. Although it’s true Italian insults (even ones addressed to strangers) are commonly delivered in the familiar—for similar reasons one addresses even children one has never met in the familiar.

      You are correct that most anglo writing on Italy is remarkably superficial as well being as tired, cliché boilerplate.

      Reply
  25. Jason Boxman

    So why can’t the Federal Reserve provide an interchange network, and expunge the rents from the system? Or the USPS?

    “The interchange is a steady, almost annuity kind of revenue stream,” said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate and CreditCards.com. He estimates swipe fees currently average about 2.3 percent, and the more elaborate the rewards card, the higher the fees. “Merchants hate paying interchange fees, but if you don’t accept credit cards, you’re turning off a huge part of your audience.”

    This seems to be just a deadweight loss.

    Reply
    1. Yves Smith

      2% to 3% is overpriced, but you are getting way more services than an interchange.

      1. You do not pay at the time of the transaction. You get float. And you can convert it into a loan (before the crisis, there were great deals, 4-8% life of the balance balance transfers. And that was when inflation was higher than now).

      2. You have chargeback rights. These guys at eBay who say “no returns” can’t do that. If the item was defective or not as advertised, you can return it up to 120 days under the chargeback rules. The merchant agreed to them as a condition of taking cards.

      3. You get accounting.

      Reply
  26. lordkoos

    So the “war on corruption” is directed primarily at foreign nations? For a minute there I thought they were talking about going after Wall St and the revolving-door US government. Silly me…

    Reply
  27. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    ‘The Psychopathic Problem of the White Mind’

    1. “They are confused, and so are we.” About the reality of power relations and the universal exploitation of the powerless by those with power in human societies, apparently.

    2. Being deliberately and fashionably provocative is certainly one way to be heard/noticed/remembered in this current constructed reality, so the lesson learned is to constantly scream for attention in the age of the global social media platform, or throw a tantrum. Or maybe both.

    3. Are the reparations that are currently being sought going to extend all the way back to the homeland and the ancestors? That would be truly provocative, as well as consistent. HINT:

    “West and Central African elites and royalty from slaveholding societies even relied on their kinship group, ranging from family members to slaves, to secure and maintain their wealth and status. By controlling the rights of their kinship group, western and central African elites owned the products of their labor. In contrast, before the trans-Atlantic trade, western European elites focused on owning land as private property to secure their wealth.” “Slavery before the Trans-Atlantic Trade”

    https://ldhi.library.cofc.edu/exhibits/show/africanpassageslowcountryadapt/introductionatlanticworld/slaverybeforetrade

    “But there are other, less discussed chapters of our history. When I was growing up, my father Chukwuma Nwaubani spoke glowingly of my great-grandfather, Nwaubani Ogogo Oriaku, a chief among our Igbo ethnic group who sold slaves in the 19th century. “He was respected by everyone around,” he said. “Even the white people respected him.” “When the Slave Traders Were African”

    https://www.wsj.com/articles/when-the-slave-traders-were-african-11568991595

    4. Of course, when one is searching for a devil in all of the unsavoury details, the entire range of mental gymnastics becomes truly astounding. HINT:

    “Nigerian journalist and novelist Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani writes that one of her ancestors sold slaves, but argues that he should not be judged by today’s standards or values. It would be unfair to judge a 19th Century man by 21st Century principles. Assessing the people of Africa’s past by today’s standards would compel us to cast the majority of our heroes as villains, denying us the right to fully celebrate anyone who was not influenced by Western ideology.”

    ‘My Nigerian great-grandfather sold slaves’ https://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-53444752

    Let that sink in for a while. In the meantime, the axe is getting dull, even as one is forced to marvel at the mental ingenuity that allows one “. . . . to hold simultaneously two opinions which cancelled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it, . . . .”

    Reply
  28. antidlc

    From 2012: Fauci on “gain-of-function” research:

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2012/07/us-infectious-disease-chief-urges-flu-scientists-engage-support-h5n1-research

    In today’s remarks, Fauci highlighted one particularly sensitive research area: so-called “gain-of-function” experiments that allow scientists to create and study flu viruses that are more pathogenic than those found in nature. A key argument for doing such experiments, he noted, is that they allow scientists to understand how a virus might evolve in the future.

    “There is a real and present danger of the natural evolution of the virus and that is why you do the experiments that might appear to be risky in the eyes of some,” he said. “You do the experiments so we can stay ahead of the naturally evolving risk.”

    Many critics, however, have questioned whether such experiments are really useful, and whether scientists can safely contain potentially dangerous new pathogens. “The world sees it differently,” Fauci said, “and they ask the question, … namely: Should these experiments should have been performed and/or published in the first place?”

    Reply
    1. Isotope_C14

      Great link, thank you.

      I’ve been screaming around here lately, and Yves, Lambert, and the rest of the team are doing a great job.

      “whether scientists can safely contain potentially dangerous new pathogens”

      No, they can not.

      I’ve pointed out the fallibility of humans on many occasions. I mean no offense to young scientists, but I’ve seen them being utterly reckless at BSL-2, this is an unfortunate fact.

      If you type BSL-4 locations in your favorite search engine, some of them are prone to Tornadoes and Hurricanes… So many in Texas.

      Atlanta shouldn’t have a BSL-4 either, they get ample destructive weather.

      Reply
        1. Isotope_C14

          Hi Petal!

          I’ve only been to Boston once, that area is projected to be quite underwater by 2100 right?

          I’m generally more afraid of that Kansas one, those EF4+ tornadoes are nasty.

          Reply
  29. Wukchumni

    D-Day: Operation Overloan

    The plan in great secrecy was to overwhelm the financial system by utilizing ‘window’, i.e. virtual bundles of cash dropped from on high to support stock & bond markets, and most importantly to the operation, the extension of the housing bubble to halcyonic heights, pacifying anxious homeowners worried about the economy with new gotten gains.

    Reply
  30. Kouros

    Alexander Mercouris has a more realistic take on dumb Wolf Warrior diplomacy trope and the “softening” of Xi exposed by Guardian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AHCRZ2TU898
    The change in tune is for the non-aligned block. As for promoting China’s position in the west, the space is fully occupied by the anti-China rhetoric. Efforts to undo that are considered useless.

    Reply
  31. Alfred

    https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/06/opinion/Naomi-Osaka-ambition-women.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

    The problem, as others have noted before me, is not a sudden scourge of laziness. The problem is work.

    Ms. Osaka has given a public face to a growing, and long overdue, revolt. Like so many other women, the tennis prodigy has recognized that she has the right to put her health and sanity above the unending demands imposed by those who stand to profit from her labors. In doing so, Ms. Osaka exposes a foundational lie in how high-achieving women are taught to view their careers.
    In a society that prizes individual achievement above most other things, ambition is often framed as an unambiguous virtue, akin to hard work or tenacity. But the pursuit of power and influence is, to some extent, a vote of confidence in the profit-driven myth of meritocracy that has betrayed millions of American women through the course of the pandemic and before it, to our disillusionment and despair.
    It is a cruel irony that ambition is what’s often sold to women as an inextricable ingredient in our eventual liberation. From the career-branded Barbie dolls of my 1990s girlhood, to the “lean in” ethos of Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, to the so-called “girlboss” era of the last decade, an ethos of careerism has been intrinsic to the mainstream cultural conception of women’s “empowerment.” Women are told that we not only can have it all, but also we should welcome the workload with open arms.
    But that Sandbergian logic has not delivered work force equity. Across class, race, profession and location, women overwhelmingly bear the brunt of unpaid chores and “emotional” labor, both at work and at home. The resulting ‘gender stress gap’ is undoubtedly compounded by a longstanding gender pay gap, both of which predate this pandemic. Before and during the ongoing crisis, Black and Latinx women in the United States have paid the steepest price.

    Saying ‘no’ is not a mark of belligerence, but a requirement for surviving modern life.

    Reply
  32. JCC

    Did anyone else happen to notice the headline of the leading link today, “Dolphins learn the ‘names’ of their friends to form teams—a first in animal kingdom”

    My first thought was a bunch of dolphins hanging around whistling to each other about those bipeds that live on land and one notes, in whistles of course -> “Those bipeds learn the “names” of their friends and form up in groups that last for many years. And it seems they are assigned these “names” for life by their mothers at birth! It may be a first in the the land-based animal kingdom”

    That headline just srtuck me as classic human intellectual hubris, that confidence that we are so much different from those we share this world with.

    Reply
  33. Tom Stone

    Gain of function research is really cool.
    There are all these new tools and more coming all the time and these are REALLY SMART people who are performing what might seem to the less credentialed as insanely risky experiments.
    Risk has been virtually eliminated!
    Not actually eliminated, only virtually eliminated.

    There are no secure Nuclear Plants or Nuclear storage sites and there are no safe Bio labs as has been proven all too frequently.
    There’s a more or less when it comes to security, a range in the culturally accepted degree of care one takes at one’s job.
    And the acceptable level of care in these fields is abominable.

    Reply
    1. JBird4049

      If we lose free speech we will not have a democracy, and quite possibly a country to practice “progressive values” in, so wtf are they talking about?

      Or is that the plane? To sink this pesky free speech and democracy?

      Reply
  34. Fern

    Thanks for posting the Forward article on Israel’s premeditated plans to occupy the territories. I wasted a lot of time yesterday trying to get around the very tight Haaretz paywall — none of my online libraries carried it, etc. And lo and behold, Lambert provided a link to the article reprinted in the Forward. Israel has always denied that it had expansionist aspirations and claimed that it “found itself” in these territories in the process of fighting defensive battles. So these revelations demolish a major portion of the narrative.

    To me, the two most astonishing aspects are first, the fact that Israel had explicit, written plans to not only conquer and occupy the West Bank, Sinai, and the Golan Heights but also Southern Lebanon and Damascus! These were actual plans — not conspiracy theories! The second is the matter-of-fact reference to a formal system of martial law and military governance assigned specifically to control the Arab citizens of Israel. This is shocking. So much for even Israel proper as anything remotely resembling a “democratic state”.

    Here are some excerpts referring matter-of-factly to the military governance of Palestinian citizens of Israel.

    ……..”The August 1963 order was prepared following an evaluation two months earlier by the military government unit that controlled the lives of Arabs within Israel.”

    “Involving officers of the military government that had been imposed on Israel’s Palestinian citizens since 1948 in the planning was logical, because the organizational and military framework that operated vis a vis that community constituted the basis for rule in the territories that would be conquered in a war. In 1963, the units of the military government already had 15 years of experience in imposing “order” and supervision over those Palestinian citizens, by means of a strict regime of permits.”

    And here are some excerpts describing the formal, premeditated plans of occupation and expansion:

    “Two years later, in August 1963, the IDF’s General Staff Branch (afterward the Operations Branch), which was then headed by Yitzhak Rabin, drew up a widely circulated directive regarding the organization of the military government in the territories. This order sheds light, in its words, on Israel’s “expected directions of expansion,” which in the assessment of the security personnel would be the focus of the next war. These territories included the West Bank, Sinai, the Syrian Heights and Damascus, and southern Lebanon up to the Litani River.”

    “Called the “Organization Order — Military Government in State of Emergency,” it stated that, “The IDF’s thrust to transfer the war to the enemy’s territories will necessarily bring about expansion [into] and conquest of areas beyond the state’s borders.” “….it would be necessary to install a military government quickly, because “these conquests might last for a short time only and we will have to evacuate the territories following international pressure or an arrangement … “However, a convenient political situation might develop which will make it possible to retain occupied territory indefinitely.”

    Reply

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