Links 7/27/21

Dear patient readers,

Big big thanks to Lambert and Jerri for doing extra duty, between my hip surgery, post surgery PT (a continuing time sink!) and my mother being hospitalized for 3 weeks (the original hospital and then her rehab facility, which was also an actual hospital). By virtue of getting her into a decent facility, she’s now functioning a tad better than when she pneumonia. I still am digging myself out from under administrativa backlog but it’s less overwhelming than it was.

There’s also some catch-up in Links today….items that still seem germane that were published a few days back.

Florida man washes ashore after trying to ‘walk’ to New York in bubble device Guardian (furzy)

37 Comparisons Of The Sizes Of Prehistoric Animal Ancestors And Their Modern Relatives By Roman Uchytel Bored Panda

Qld tradie to walk free after cutting off men’s testicles Mercury (Anthony L)

Hubble Finds First Evidence of Water Vapour at Jupiter’s Moon Ganymede ESA/Hubble (furzy)

The philosophy of porn Prospect Magazine (Anthony L)

The Unmaking of Biblical Womanhood New Yorker (furzy). More interesting than you might assume.

And a Biblical mini-musical interlude. It was a special project of songs of women in the Bible by Lanny Meyers and Simone Wells (who I know under her non-performance name). I have the CD with all the songs.

Seaweed Farming: Could This Carbon-Negative Crop Help Restore Our Oceans? TreeHugger (David L). I love hijiki….

Tomorrow’s Hydropower Begins With Retrofitting Today’s Dams IEEE Spectrum (Chuck L)

At least 85 wildfires torch 1.5m acres across drought-hit US west Guardian (Kevin W)

Drought pushes Great Salt Lake to historic low NBC (furzy)

EU sends help to Italy as hundreds are evacuated from island of Sardinia amid wildfires raging for days (VIDEOS) RT (Kevin W)

The end of open source? Tech Crunch (Chuck L)

Stirring the Embers of Faith Commonweal Magazine. Anthony L: “I like Graham Greene (He is great paired with Gore Vidal).”

Forget morality aeno. Aargh. I have two simple reasons for disagreeing. One is the notion of revulsion, that some acts are so horrid (like eating your children) that everyone recoils from them. Second is that every social animal species exhibits cheating behavior, which in turn often leads to altruistic punishment. I personally waste more time and energy than I should on altruistic punishment and applaud others who do too.



Mixed AstraZeneca-Pfizer Vaccine Boosts Covid Antibody Levels, Korea Study Finds Forbes. Also towards the end of the piece:

Pfizer said it will be creating a booster shot to target the Delta variant. Trials for the booster shot began in Nashville on Monday. Moderna also announced it will be developing a booster shot, with trial results expected by September.

Huh? FDA has to do at least a statistical review. Implies no approved boosters until late Sept when models say Delta infections will hit a nasty high level by mid Oct. The call need for boosters and the rapid spread of Delta were known a while back. The claimed advantage of mRNA technology was that you could whip up a new vaccine in a week. So what happened?

Plus preliminary work suggests single-shot boosters achieve only about half the level of antibody response as the original shots. See this report from GM via e-mail:

The data from 3 booster studies — Moderna, AZ, and probably Novavax too (though they presented it in a weird way) showed that the B.1.351 booster only upped neutralization against B.1.351 to less than half of what it is against WT [wild type].

One would have to assume something similar for B.1.617.2 as the null hypothesis.

So the default expectation should be for the booster to fade even faster

Were the companies looking at two shots (v. the one they appear to have decided upon? The Sept timetable sure suggests a one shot regime)? Trying to come up with a more potent single jab booster?

Physical activity and the risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, severe COVID-19 illness and COVID-19 related mortality in South Korea: a nationwide cohort study BMJ

The tweet above explains why getting Covid is not a hot idea. Nevertheless:

Meet the people who warn the world about new covid variants MIT Technology Review (ma)

Quebec offers 3rd dose of mRNA COVID vaccine to AstraZeneca recipients who need to travel CBC (ma)


COVID-19 surge explodes Biden’s claim of “independence” from pandemic WSWS

‘We are now in crisis mode’: Mayor of Florida county home to Disney World sounds alarm on surging Covid cases CNN

UAB expert: COVID now ‘a wildfire’ in Alabama, urges everyone to wear masks

De Blasio to mandate COVID vaccine or weekly tests for all 300,000 NYC municipal workers — including cops Daily News. Ditto California, per the pink paper. But note it’s limited to state employees, meaning yes prison guards, no local cops.


The Pandemic Cliff Is a Manufactured Crisis New Republic

The pandemic ended the daily commute Business Insider (Kevin W)


China, US draw lines in sand at top-level meeting but agree to keep talking South China Morning Post

China’s hammer blow to private education shows it will do whatever it takes to meet its goals RT (Kevin W)

International journalists face intense harassment, threats of violence while covering flooding in China Committee to Protect Journalists (furzy)


Myanmar Poll Results Annulled as Election Body Claims Fraud Bloomberg

Desperate Myanmar migrant workers struggle to survive in Thailand Aljazeera


New Cold War

On the Failings of Political Philosophy Irrusianality (Anthony L)


US combat forces to leave Iraq by end of year BBC

BRI vs New Quad for Afghanistan’s coming boom Asia Times (Kevin W)

Iran: Drought, water shortages spark protests DW

MBS treats any domestic opposition ruthlessly PressTV (Anthony L). Not exactly news…

Imperial Collapse Watch

‘It Failed Miserably’: After Wargaming Loss, Joint Chiefs Are Overhauling How the US Military Will Fight Defense One (RH)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

The Insecurity Industry Edward Snowden (Richard Smith)

This is no ordinary spying. Our most intimate selves are now exposed Guardian. Whoa, look at what Pegasus cost!

Pegasus, Pandemics, and the Normalization of Surveillance Plebity (Mark W)


Senators scramble to save infrastructure deal The Hill

‘You’re such a pain in the neck’: Biden snaps at NBC News reporter Kelly O’Donnell for asking about the VA’s vaccine mandate during his meeting with Iraqi PM in the Oval Office Daily Mail

Aon, Willis Towers Scrap $30 Billion Merger Amid Antitrust Impasse Wall Street Journal

‘We’re f—ed’: Dems fear turnout catastrophe from GOP voting laws Politico

‘Shadow State’: Embracing corporate governance to escape constitutional limits Jonathan Turley, The Hill

Police State Watch

Police Are Telling ShotSpotter to Alter Evidence From Gunshot-Detecting AI Vice (dk)

Cop Appears To Plant Evidence During Totally Worth-It Traffic Stop Jalopnik

Citizen Wants to Pay You $25 an Hour to Be a Nightcrawler Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Detailed Discussion of the Proposed CalPERS LTC Class Action Settlement California State University Emeritus & Retired Faculty & Staff Association. Bloodless. Obscures key fact that any long-term care policy bought now with the CalPERS monies already paid in will ofter very skimpy coverage compared to what CalPERS promised.

MIT and Harvard Have Sold Higher Education’s Future The Chronicle of Higher Education

Road warriors: American trucks and SUVs are now longer than the tanks that fought in World War II Daily Mail (BC)

Jeff Bezos offers Nasa $2bn in exchange for moon mission contract Guardian. Kevin W: “NASA should tell Bezos to go sit on his penis rocket.”

Private cryptocurrencies make lousy national currencies: International Monetary Fund The Register

Tether Executives Said to Face Criminal Probe Into Bank Fraud Bloomberg (furzy)

Monetary Faith Philip Pilkington, Inference (Anthony L)

Class Warfare

We Need Radical Economic Change—Not Biden’s Corporate Capitalism In These Times

Antidote du jour. Jim D: “Old couple adopted a Russian girl.” Moi: My first cat was a regular old cat (his mother was a tabby) who looked just like a Russian Blue. And no subtle markings like this cutie (whose eye color is remarkably close to her coat color):

And a bonus (guurst)

Another bonus (Chuck L):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Otis B Driftwood

    “Dems Fear Catastrophe…”

    They should. And they won’t need the help of the GOP. Not delivering on any of their promises made in 2020 will depress voter turnout. Just like in 2010.

    1. timbers

      Dems made promises to voters? I don’t remember except $2000. They may well have but I don’t remember them. They thought not being Trump was that they needed to be. Which means…

      1). I filtered them out because the words didn’t mean anything meaningful to me…same ole same ole.

      2). They didn’t make any.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        They were watered down, but they made them. They were quite a bit more concrete than Obama or Hillary this go around, but with Biden, they can’t call his critics racist while protecting a tool of segregationists.

        The organizing they did was built around Trump being a special and unique evil instead of what he was a “moderate Republican” when you get down to the GOP. Already, they are spending their time trying to make the party of Reagan look reasonable.

      2. Carla

        Did too. Joe Biden promised “Nothing will fundamentally change.” He seems to me to be keeping that promise.

      3. Gareth

        Biden’s stand-ins promised 50K in student loan forgiveness while campaigning in Georgia to motivate students to turn out. Biden walked it back to forgiving 10K. Still, he promised 10K of forgiveness to those students, and he hasn’t made any efforts to make it happen. Those young people may have better things to do than show up next November to vote for a party that takes their support for granted.

        1. Cocomaan

          There’s going to be a lot of pressure to continue to defer payments come September when the current forebearance expires.

          My guess is that they do indeed sign some kind of one time relief, just to get the cash flow going again. Probably will have a bunch of riders on there like “if you sign on for this one time relief you also are no longer qualified for PSLF, Medicare, etc”

          1. lordkoos

            How is it “stupid”? Forgiving student debt would be a huge economic boost for an entire generation, and for the economy in general.

            1. Procopius

              The way to do it is to amend the cruel and draconian 2005 Bankrutpcy “Reform” Act to make it *cheaper* and easier to file, and to remove the requirement for “extreme hardship” to discharge student debt. In fact student debt should be treated just like any other. The mechanics of whose loan to “forgive” and how much is a can of worms.

          2. Gareth

            You may think it is a stupid idea, but the promise was made, for better or worse. Democrats can find $3.5 trillion dollars worth of “people infrastructure” projects, but it seems they cannot find any money for the young people who are their future. Not only that, they make promises to make coalitions, but they think they can break promises without breaking coalitions. It will end in tears when a smarter Trump, whoever that may be, outflanks them from the left.

            To put it in perspective, Brookings gives the following “costs” for loan cancellation programs:

            10K – $373 billion (Biden plan)
            50K – $1 trillion (Warren plan)
            All – $1.6 trillion (Sanders plan)

            Costs is in quotes because all that money and the interest on it is owed to the federal government. Remember, we spent somewhere on the order of $20 trillion so defense contractors could feast in Iraq and Afghanistan for 20 years. That spending was bipartisan and put in place by Republicans and Democrats. In the end, all those efforts will be for nothing, if the defense industry is to be believed. All that blood and treasure spent to accomplish nothing, but we have nothing to spare for our own children? If that is true, then we deserve what is coming to us.

            1. Activist #MMT

              You allude to it, but I just want to bring it home:

              The idea that there is a cost AT ALL to canceling student loans is ridiculous – when you consider the term “cost” in the sense as understood by average human beings. According to this report 92.1% of all student loans are held by the US Department of Education. The US Department of Education is entirely funded by a fully sovereign currency issuer: the US national government.

              Cancelling all student debt means sacrificing future revenue, which would allow tens of millions of currency USERS to stop making future payments. But the idea of a currency issuer “sacrificing revenue” is completely nonsensical, because a currency issuer has no need for revenue, ever (again, when the term “revenue” is considered in the sense as understood by average human beings).

              So cancelling all student loans means that the only entity on Earth that does not ever need revenue in US dollars, must sacrifice its future revenue in US dollars. All student debt can be cancelled by – quite literally – changing a single number in a single spreadsheet cell at the USDOE, from one-point-whatever trillion, to a zero. With a few flicks of a finger on a computer keyboard.

              In other words, all student debt can be instantly cancelled by simply choosing to do so. Such as with the stroke of the president’s pen.

              Student debt is nothing more than future punishment for daring to aspire above your station.

              1. Activist #MMT

                Same thing, said a little more pithily:

                Cancelling student debt means those holding the debt must sacrifice future revenue.

                92.1% of all student loans are held by the US Department of Education.

                The USDOE is entirely funded by the US national government.

                The US national government is a fully sovereign currency issuer.

                A fully sovereign currency issuer has no need for revenue – ever – when the term “revenue” is considered in the sense as understood by average human beings.

                This means that student debt can be cancelled by – quite literally – changing a single number in a single spreadsheet cell at the USDOE, from one-point-whatever trillion, to a zero. With a few flicks of a finger on a computer keyboard.

                In other words, all student debt can be instantly cancelled by simply choosing to do so. Such as with the stroke of the president’s pen.

                Student debt is nothing more than future punishment for daring to aspire above your station.

        2. Oh

          I think all college loans should be canceled right away. The way to do this is to stiff the lenders. They have not followed truth in lendng practices in making the loans and have taken advantage of vulnerable students in cahoots with “financial aid” offices in the universities. Besides they’ve already robbed the students with undisclosed fees and interest, Just forgiving the loans would only help the lenders.

          1. Gareth

            There aren’t that many lenders to stiff, though. Just $137 billion in student loans are held by private companies (about 8% of all student loans). $1.46 trillion, or 92% of all loans, are held by the US Department of Education. The Feds are making a tidy profit on all that misery.

      4. lyman alpha blob

        Since Lambert hasn’t mentioned it yet, Biden still owes me $600 on that promise.

        The Democrat party not delivering on that clear promise of a concrete material benefit that everyone could understand goes to show they are politically brain dead.

        By my calculations, I received more stimulus money from Trump than Biden and I’m sure I’m not the only one who can do the math.

        1. campbeln

          I’ve math’d it, and I too got A LOT more from Trump.

          The Democrats do love to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory (not that they ever WANT victory, despite their constant claims; see Pelosi’s horrid speech on student debt or her insider trading, for examples).

      5. Questa Nota

        Those public promises to voters are just a smoke screen.

        The real action is the behind-the-scenes promises to any group that could fog up a mirror and deliver votes and, key point, provide cash. How else to explain the behaviors and what is supported versus what is not?

        1. urblintz

          This was always the plan. It should be clear that Russiagate was about taking out the socialist-Bernie “left” (no matter how milquetoast) as much if not more than throwing shade at Trumpelstiltskin.

        2. marym

          The House is having their Capitol-riot hearing now to protect “our democracy.” Then it’s vacation time for Congress, while Republican state legislators gerrymander and disenfranchise the Dem electorate into oblivion. Then blame the would-be voters for not clapping loud enough.

      1. Dr. John Carpenter

        Or the Berniebros. Or RUSSIA. Or Facebook. Or Trump. Or the messaging. Or…

          1. JBird4049

            Just saying anyone but themselves will do nicely.

            Remember, like with neoliberalism, and to a lesser extent modern neoconservativatism/libertarianism and the Republican Party, the Democratic Party cannot fail, it can only be failed.

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      If getting your candidates “elected” depends on people voting anonymously (without ID), sending out massive numbers of unrequested absentee ballots and then not checking signatures or reconciling the numbers on the ones returned; special drop boxes that serve the same purpose as mailboxes except for being far less secure, or voting in the middle of the night (“24-hour” voting), I’d say you need better candidates.

      Talk about making republican’s point for them…..

      1. The Historian

        Might I remind you that only registered voters can vote – and when you register, your identity is checked. And that the states that send out abseentee ballots only send them to registered voters. And what does it matter where the ballots are dropped off at? They aren’t counted until they get to the polling place. I haven’t heard of one story where someone broke into a drop box and changed the ballots, have you? And if they stuff the drop boxes with false ballots, those will be caught because yes, absentee ballots are checked against voter registration lists before they are counted.
        And what does it matter what time a person votes?

        The Republicans touting these fears campaign about what “could possibly” happen, rather than what actually happens. There may be some voter fraud – there always is – but hardly on a big enough scale to change the results of an election. The way we vote isn’t perfect, but do you have a better way that is inclusive of all those people who should be able to vote? I haven’t heard anything concrete from the Republicans or Democrats for that matter.

        That said, we DO need better candidates but the sad fact is that we don’t choose them – that is done for us. Do you think the people of America really wanted their only choices to be either Trump or Biden?

      2. marym

        Voting isn’t anonymous in states that don’t require voter ID. I can’t speak to every procedure in every state, but in the cases I followed in those that Trump and his allies contested in 2020 there were numerous checks and balances for absentee ballot reconciliation procedures, drop box security, and in-person voting security, for which in the past I’ve posted links to specific cases, state regulations, and general summaries.

        There’s decades of lack of evidence of fraud. There’s no reason this shouldn’t be considered in evaluating the intent of new laws.

        Applications for absentee ballots
        Absentee ballots

      3. Chad Thundercock

        “If your candidates rely on people voting for them you need better candidates.” Excellent yes very incisive.

      4. Val

        We’d never seen a vote harvesting effort like the one just observed in this district, not in the last 30 years anyhow. Mailings were to be returned to a mailbox at the UPS store in the otherwise abandoned strip mall down on MLK Ave. Third party actor(s) continuously inquiring for 5 months if we wanted absentee ballots. Mailings became increasingly strident and then mildly threatening. Every indication suggests the plan was to establish how many non-votes could be safely harvested for the Alzheimer’s patient. Remember the 90% turnout in WI? Yeah, that.
        If it wasn’t blessed by the oligarchy, would expect the fbi to have been all over it, but they were busy manufacturing a well-timed plot-reveal getting some genuine yokels to consider an extraordinary rendition of our rather dim authoritarian gubernatorial.

        1. Darthbobber

          Turnout in Wisconsin was actually around 72% in 2020, and I’ll judge those of your claims that I can’t personally check by the accuracy of the easily checkable one.

        2. JTMPhee

          Where are you writing from, and is there any evidence to substantiate? Which party or group was doing this?

      5. FluffytheObeseCat

        “….people voting anonymously (without ID)”

        Document this assertion. I.e. tell us how and why my handwritten signature is magically “anonymous” when I vote. It was certainly not considered anonymity when I bought my house. Or my truck. Or signed off on my daughter’s birth certificate or my marriage license.

        “sending out massive numbers of unrequested absentee ballots”

        Document this assertion.

        “not checking signatures or reconciling the numbers on the ones returned

        Document this assertion.

        “…special drop boxes that serve the same purpose as mailboxes except for being far less secure”

        How are they “less secure”? Document it.

        “voting in the middle of the night (“24-hour” voting)”

        Where, and why is time of day indicative of reliability? Give us proof this is a problem, and leave the sneering innuendos about nighttime aside.

        In the comment above you gave no links to even partisan sites to support any of your assertions (innuendos really), and did not bother to make your own arguments in support of any of them. In light of these facts, tell us why we should credit it with any respect.

    3. Grant

      Maybe voters in that party’s primaries can stop voting for corrupt rich people, when there are often better (or at least less bad) options. I get that working people are busy, but the system is crushing them in large part because of who they choose to give power to. I mean, look at the race in Ohio. How can anyone vote for Brown? How would any halfway decent party and politician support her, given her clown show campaign and open corruption? But, you watch, she could win. They get wiped out also because when given the chance to vote for at least decent candidates they time and time again vote for corrupt politicians and/or rich people that are on the other side of the class war. I have my own issues with AOC, but a government of AOCs would make the country far better off. But, many Democrats (and there is a huge generational divide) seem to want people like Pelosi, Clyburn, Schumer and Brown and then pretend to be surprised when their party gets whacked by another party that supports deeply unpopular policies. I have found over time that the cynics are never cynical enough in US politics. The Democrats elect mainly big piles of nothing, they don’t support long overdue changes, things get worse, and then the Republicans win and speed up things getting worse. This is what happens when there really is no left wing in this system.

      1. Oh

        The barrage of negative teevee commercials also plays a part. A candidate supported by the party is bankrolled by the party in the election campaign. The commercials are always negative and full of lies and half truths. It’s time we have law that requires each candidate to talk about their accomplishments and plans instead of maligning the opposing one.

    4. JTMcPhee

      Up there in Congress, bringing home the grift bacon for a $22 million appropriation addition to the federal “budget” to “investigate” the Surfside condo collapse. How much would it cost to build a replacement, anyway? And gee, I wonder what the public-private partnership will look like with this one. A hint here:

      Why we mopes are f@#ked.

    5. Jon Cloke

      What I don’t understand about this is that the GOP has been working on cutting voter numbers for decades, long before Trump – I remember reading years ago about the ‘voter fraud’ fraud and understanding that it was how the GOP was going to rig their supremacy into a country of increasingly non-Democratic first voters… Do the DNC/DCCC only understand this now?

      Did they not realise that the other leg of this is ‘GOP’-ing the justice system and the SCOTUS so that the Dems can have any POTUS they want, they’ll never be able to do anything?

  2. zagonostra

    >Forget morality – aeno

    By ‘morality’, I refer to the sort of rules the transgression of which common sense decries as ‘immoral’, ‘wrong’ or ‘evil’.

    As Dante points out in chapter II of De Monarchia, you have to start out with basic principles, or what Aristotle called first principles. In this article the author defines morality with respect to “common sense.” If you are wrong in first principles then what follows will lead astray. In this definition eating your own children would be permissible if in a culture that accepted that as “normal” it would be “moral.” You end up in a cultural relativism in which there is no foundation upon which to build a civilization where moral precepts guide behavior, or at least provide a touchstone on which behavior is judged as “good and evil.”

    Instead of jettisoning religion right from the get-go, he should have at least mentioned St. Thomas’ Summa Theolgica Questions 90 – 97 (sometimes grouped together under “Treatise on Law”). In that work, the distinction is made between “eternal law”, “natural law”, and “human law.”

    The author of the article states that though he has taught “moral philosophy for many decades but does not consider himself one. So in a sense he is a sophist in its historical definition of that term.

    1. Darthbobber

      If you ostentatiously reject the label “morality”, but acknowledge the existence of norms, then you are just where we already are, but with a secularized nomenclature. As Steven Gould would say, this is not even an argument about things but about the names of things.

      In any case, as long as cultures and subcultures continue to exist there will continue to be norms, and philosophers talking about whether that’s a good, bad, or indifferent thing will have near-zero impact on that.

      The author seems to be of the school that sees religion as the genetic “original sin” here, but demonstrably the claimed moralities of the organized religions themselves change over time as the societies in which they are embedded and from which they draw their personnel change. Note how much of Christianity went from having no problem with chattel slavery but a huge one with usury to the reverse of that.

    2. lyman alpha blob

      I’ve always found it interesting that Nietzsche and Rumi, polar opposites at least in how they are generally perceived, both talked about going beyond good and evil. From a cosmological perspective I believe that notion is correct – the universe doesn’t seem to care about what happens in the aftermath of a supernova or gamma ray burst and there is no morality to it.

      At the human level though, well we’ve seen how some people have twisted what Nietzsche was trying to say and the results were pretty horrifying. Nobody’s tried that with Rumi yet and he seems pretty nice –

      Morality is a human construct and not a universal truth but I don’t think it follows that we should stop trying to be excellent to each other. Just my $.02 lunchbreak philosophy.

    3. lost in the hills

      Re: the immorality of cannibalism – the natives of Australia, living in a harsh environment, faced starvation at times. Being practical people, if a member of the group died during straightened times, their ‘protein’ would be consumed.
      This was acceptable and moral for them.

      1. c_heale

        Have a question. How much evidence is there for this, since accusing a group you are in conflict with of cannibalism seems to be a human characteristic – even up to the present day. Although infanticide does appear to have been practiced among many civilisations.

    4. Grebo

      Ethics: A largely self-consistent set of guidelines for social behaviour, more or less logically derived from the Golden Rule and other human considerations.

      Morals: A rag-bag of prejudices, tribal customs, and rules arbitrarily selected from an old book which was allegedly dictated to some ancient barbarians by their invisible sky-daddy.

      1. c_heale

        Apparently morals can be defined as guiding principles and ethics as specific rules and practices.

      2. deleter

        I’ve always thought it was the opposite.
        Ethics are the code of a group while
        Morals are supposed to be universal, like
        the Golden Rule.
        The Waffen SS had an ethical code.
        Corporations do too, according to which
        shareholder value and externalizing costs
        is the highest good.

        1. Grebo

          My formulation is easily generalised to cover that:

          Ethics: A largely self-consistent set of guidelines for social behaviour, more or less logically derived from <insert absurd and arbitrary morals here>.

  3. timbers

    China’s hammer blow to private education shows it will do whatever it takes to meet its goals

    “Perceived as promoting inequality and a hindrance to birth rates, tutoring in China has suddenly been transformed into a non-profit industry. It’s a ruthless reminder that Xi Jinping will always put the needs of society first.

    In a spectacular display of government authority, China has, with the stroke of a pen, demolished its $120-billion private education industry by forcing it to reform into a non-profit initiative. The move has cost at least one billionaire his fortune.”

    Wow. And the US thinks it can “compete” with that?

    We can’t even enact decent healthcare let alone rein in drug pricing or even prosecute folks (at least in a way that affects their personal gains) who sell fancy heroin in plain sight. I’m starting to really really believe those articles at Asia Times saying the U.S. can compete with China is non sense because she’s too efficient.

    1. Jason

      tutoring in China has suddenly been transformed into a non-profit industry

      Hmmm. A non-profit educational industry. Good luck with that.

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        An oldie but a goodie from 1964:

        Well I ask you to consider — if this [UCal] is a firm, and if the Board of Regents are the Board of Directors, and if President Kerr in fact is the manager, then I tell you something — the faculty are a bunch of employees and we’re the raw material! But we’re a bunch of raw materials that don’t mean to be — have any process upon us. Don’t mean to be made into any product! Don’t mean — Don’t mean to end up being bought by some clients of the University, be they the government, be they industry, be they organized labor, be they anyone! We’re human beings!

        And that — that brings me to the second mode of civil disobedience. There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus — and you’ve got to make it stop! And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it — that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all!!

    2. PlutoiumKun

      It won’t work. They tried this in Korea back in the dictatorship days – its a populist mood designed to overcome hostility to the elites buying big advantages for their children. In Korea, it basically drove private tutoring underground and made it even more of an elitist advantage. And there won’t be consistent enforcement as too many Party people will take advantage of illegal tutoring for their own children.

      It is, however, excellent news for retired westerners looking to make an extra income. With the right connections a few months in China offering private tutoring in English or anything technical will prove very lucrative. This scene already exists to some extent (mostly for people who are too old for work visas – a mature westerner is seen as an excellent tutor for many Asians), it will be a huge boost for it.

      1. timbers

        Quite possible.

        Then again, what does it won’t “work’ mean?

        They wiped out a billionaire. In my universe that’s progress in it’s own right. And by wiping out that parasitical billionaire, they – if what you write is true – have created a landscape for a forest of self employed non billionaires, who are non parasitical.

        1. Tom Doak

          China did not ban golf, they banned the construction of new golf courses, and they have 100% followed through with that. A course I had built (with official permits) that was ready to open was not allowed to open, and they tore up areas and planted trees in the middle of the greens to make sure no one used it for golf.

          1. Basil Pesto

            yes sorry, my wording was sloppy, but is it not also true per this ESPN article that despite the 2004 ban on new courses, that new courses nevertheless proliferated due to gaming of the system (and presumably party elites looking the other way for their own reasons)? That’s what I was alluding to when I said PK’s post reminded me of that dynamic, though I should have been more precise.

      2. The Rev Kev

        At least they are trying. We aren’t. Look at that article “MIT and Harvard Have Sold Higher Education’s Future” in today’s Links for example. The pandemic has given me good insight into higher education in Oz. With the supply of students cut off from overseas, the Unis here went into meltdown. Revealingly, they actually referred to themselves as an industry and it seems they cannot educate young people unless there is a steady stream of international students coming on from overseas. They were even demanding that returning Aussies be bumped off flights in place of international students but they were refusing to kick in money to pay for the quarantine bill for these students. So if the Chinese have a go, then I say good luck to them.

        1. Michael

          Sounds like the airlines problem. No international flights, the entire business fails.

      3. Darthbobber

        But this is nt an effort to outlaw private tutoring per se, which remains perfectly legal for tutors to engage in. What it outlaws is the subsumption of the tutors under capitalist firms which show huge profits by charging a fee significantly in excess of what the tutors are paid.

        Essentially, tutoring as a trade continues, but for-profit private sector tutoring firms as a way of organizing it are outlawed.

        (And its perfectly possible to be organized as a non-profit, employ an administrative staff and pay it.)

    3. Katniss Everdeen

      As highlighted by Reuters, Beijing is dismantling a sector which is not only exacerbating the inequality of education among rich and poor, but is also increasingly perceived as an obstacle to the country’s fertility rates. So now the hammer has come down on it as a social disruption. It shows that Beijing is prepared to do whatever it takes to meet its national goals, and is another example of how the Chinese Communist Party’s authority has stiffened against the creeping liberalization which the West once welcomed.

      Is there anyone who seriously disagrees with that?

      In fact, I’d like to know where americans can get a Xi Jinping of their very own. Not afraid of billionaires who cause “social disruption”!!! Can you imagine?

      I’d vote for zuck and dorsey to go first.

      1. Darthbobber

        Yes. In this country, the very fact that someone develops a successful (for them) “business model” to profiteer of an existing situation, or even to create a situation from which they can profiteer becomes a prima facie case against doing anything that might disrupt their disruption.

  4. PlutoniumKun

    Monetary Faith Philip Pilkington, Inference

    Nice to see Pilkington back writing, his essays are always a brain stretch for me, but he really digs down very deep into the epistemological failures of mainstream economics.

    1. Susan the other

      Yes. I was happy to see Philip too. Long time no see. And I thought his essay was stealth all the way. Nice. “Monetary Faith” indeed. An almost tongue-in-cheek critique of the concept of the “natural interest rate.” Loved it for its delicate flavors. We could rename it the “natural rate of extraction.” But what’s natural about that in this day and age? Philip is far too politic to come right out and say it’s BS. He just handed that one off to us. So let me take a shot. The “natural interest rate” is the profit rate, the opportunity rate, the pump-n-dump rate, the fake scarcity rate. When he says it is the yield on rentier assets he sort of incorporates all of the above. Which of course means there’s nothing natural about it. And by omission he also makes his point – no discussion on what might be called the automation rate; and no concept of and as yet no word for the natural rate of cooperation. And then Philip tweaks us when he asks about the interest rate, “Too cheap? Relative to what?”. If the natural rate of interest is also the natural rate of private profits, isn’t that a tad too circular to be useful? He does make a killer conclusion that the only possible natural rate of interest is a reflection in the overall increase in the value of society. More Philip please.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit (and the comment on Fintan O’Toole’s excellent article).

    I wouldn’t put it past the Tories to try to break the GFA. There is a new generation of Tories who are genuinely clueless about all things connected with Ireland. At least the older generation remembered bombs and had read a little late 19th early 20th Century history so knew that there are certain dogs that should be left slumbering. Johnson is just a moron, but at least he knows a tiny bit of history. I think his most likely successors, especially if its someone actively sociopathic like Patel, could do something very, very dangerous.

    The Tories now know the Irish Sea border element (which was Johnsons ‘idea’) is unworkable within their vision for Brexit, so has to be broken. They are trying to see if there is a weak point (Dublin, probably) to see if they can either get the EU to turn a blind eye, or get a new agreement. This is highly unlikely, although Dublin is absolutely desperate to avoid a flare up of issues on the border.

    But the political situation is very unstable. The Unionists (especially the DUP) are in turmoil and may well lose out badly to Sinn Fein and other parties in the upcoming Stormont elections. If Sinn Fein became the biggest party, this would be an enormous psychological blow to Unionism. They literally don’t know what to do, as it has dawned on them that Brexit played right into nationalists hands and they don’t know how to backtrack out of it.

    If Johnson is replaced by a more cold eyed Brexiteer, with Unionism in turmoil, and Sinn Fein growing in electoral strength north and south of the border, there could be some very nasty surprises in store. Don’t rule out someone putting a bomb somewhere that will shock a lot of people.

    1. MK

      I always suspected that the plan was to not actually do the sea border inspection thingy on the GB side of it. Just fake it until the EU either gives up trying to enforce the sea border, OR force the EU to put up a wall on their side of the border to do customs checks in and out.

      I see no reason for GB to actually inspect anything going to NI (maybe they will still inspect what’s coming in?)

    2. Darthbobber

      Its been years since I last visited the sceptered isle or its little problem colony, but its been my impression for many years that keeping Ulster in the Union is important largely to the Ulster Unionists, and much less so to any of the Britain-wide parties or the British ruling class.

      I suspect most of British political and economic leadership would be perfectly happy to offload the six counties onto the Republic if that could be done without an unacceptable level of violent rampaging. (And the extent to which the Unionists are still capable of delivering on a threat to cause meaningful chaos is unclear.)

      1. Eustachedesaintpierre

        Northern Ireland is vastly different than it was back during the Civil Rights Movement in the late 60’s, when Catholics had a host of grievances. Other than the urban housing estates, most people just live the recently missing normal. UVF & UDA are probably more interested in their drug turfs & occasionally shooting each other than getting involved in a real conflict, while the rank & file largely resemble rent-a-mob. The Catholic dissidents that could cause trouble are small in number & the others are veterans who are largely dying off being old men who broke away from SF due to policing reforms.

        The PSNI are not perfect but they are not the RUC & B specials who were not far off from being a Loyalist version of the Freikorps. As for the IRA they had a lot of support in the community providing free houses, ordinary people taking messages, supplying people in the field etc, which for the most part wouldn’t exist now. They also used the old flying column tactics with some success, but as an OC told me a few years ago, that technology has put an end to that possibility & in any case the Shinners know that the best way for them is through political means.

        Most young people are not interested either & the DUP appears like a dinosaur to most of them. It costs Westminster 11.5 billion a year to keep the province propped up & looking at current Tory cabinet I imagine that unlike previous Tories who were also keen on the Union besides financial issues, they might be happy enough to be rid of us.

        Perhaps as I live in NI, I’m kidding myself & the same old shite will once again rear it’s ugly battered head.

  6. PlutoniumKun

    Tomorrow’s Hydropower Begins With Retrofitting Today’s Dams IEEE Spectrum

    A slightly confused article that mixes up two different issues – one is retrofitting existing dams to make them more efficient. Given that many dams are operating with turbines many decades old its unsurprising that with retrofitting some could be made much more efficient.

    The other issue is run of the river dams, which have a lot of potential for less damaging forms of development. The leader here is Bhutan, which has poineered moderate sized weirs high in the Himalaya, diverting water down tunnels many miles long to the lowlands where they generate very high consistent levels of power. Its more expensive than dams, but far less damaging and more resilient. But these are only suitable for a limited number of areas (however, there is multiple GW of potential in the Himalaya).

    A further important form of retrofitting is that many hydro dams can be converted to storage by the simple means of building a smaller holding dam below the main impoundment, and pumping water back up when there is surplus in the network. The Portuguese have done this with some of their larger old reservoir dams.

  7. Henry Moon Pie

    Forget morality–

    Surprisingly in accord:

    Forget the rules.

    Tao te Ching #19 (UK Le Guin, trans.)

    The author’s advocacy of amoralism has all the depth of a college freshman’s essay after she has just loosed herself from the shackles of her confirmation training. It’s become a tried, true and tiresome strategy for some time now to identify political, philosophical or moral positions as phobias rather than engaging in good faith argument. The phobias of the day are everywhere. I’m surprised there hasn’t been a flurry of pieces about the vaccine-phobic, but I guess it’s more fun to go the Trump cult route. It’s essentially the playground cry of “Chicken!” all grown up with footnotes.

    Lao-Tzu’s amoralism comes from a very different place.

    Stop being holy, forget being prudent,
    it’ll be a hundred times better for everyone.
    Stop being altruistic, forget being righteous,
    people will remember what family feeling is.


    From the perspective of the Tao te Ching, morality is, at best, a second-best, a bandage applied by culture to stop the societal bleeding that happens whenever people have lost their sense of who they are and how they fit into this cosmos.

    So when we lose the Way, we find power,
    losing power, we find goodness,
    losing goodness, we find righteousness,
    losing righteousness, we’re left with obedience.

    Tao te Ching # 38 (UK Le Guin, trans.)

    Moreover, to label something as “good” merely creates “bad,” and before we know it, the world is filled with dualisms all dueling each other to the death. Rather:

    [H]ard and easy
    complete each other,
    long and short
    shape each other,
    high and low
    depend on each other.

    Tao te Ching #2 (UK Le Guin, trans.)

    I blame a lot of this confusion on Darwin. Natural selection was said to be a “competitive” process, and off we went to “survival of the fittest” and Social Darwinism, concepts that have plagued us for a long time now. What species success in the natural selection process really entails is not competing. Otherwise, if we “succeed” in stamping out vertebrate life on Earth but a few of us manage to survive, then one of the survivors should climb to the top of Everest (with an American flag) and proclaim, “We’re the fittest!”

    Instead, natural selection means that species continue as long as they fit into a niche in one or more ecosystems. Humans managed that for most of our existence, more or less, but now we shun our place and seek to become gods. Such creatures have completely lost the Way and no longer even care about the backups like righteousness because gods don’t obey the rules. They make them. That way, they don’t have all those yucky feelings like guilt.

    1. Carolinian

      Darwin wasn’t offering up a value system but merely a description. If you think Human activity isn’t all about competition–innately, baked into the cake–you aren’t paying proper attention. Yes we are capable of cooperating with each other–when we have to!

      Personally I believe Humans will endure regardless of what happens with AGW. We are not a “niche” species because our big brains provide a route to adaptation that doesn’t depend on evolution and DNA.

      But it may be a very sterile existence without so much of the Nature that produced us. Our reason can change the course of this just as it has so far saved us, perhaps miraculously, from nuclear destruction. However we won’t get there by denying what we are–nature “red in tooth and claw.” Morality is something we need to cultivate in our personal lives. In the larger scheme everything is “behavior.”

      1. Henry Moon Pie

        “We are not a “niche” species because our big brains provide a route to adaptation that doesn’t depend on evolution and DNA.”

        You’re bolder than I if you’re willing to connect “our big brains” and “adaptation” in this current context.

        1. Carolinian

          It wasn’t our big brains that made us into 7 billion but rather something further south on the anatomy. It’s our big brains that have allowed us to cope with that drive to procreate.

          As I said above I don’t think the belief that Humans will endure is any reason to be complacent about global warming. It won’t be much of a world.

          But we shouldn’t jump to conclusions based on a mere few decades to solve a problem that is so very great.

      2. JBird4049

        >>>Morality is something we need to cultivate in our personal lives. In the larger scheme everything is “behavior.”

        About that. Being all “realistic,” “pragmatic,” or “ruthless,” often is the excuse to be not only immoral, but short sighted and stupid as well as well as for being greedy. Being ethical, moral, or just decent takes more work and the short term, immediate payout is much less, but the long term is so much greater, if for no other reason than you are not only alive to get that long term payout, and also have to spend less time trying not to get shiv’d in the back.

        1. Carolinian

          I agree. Living a moral life is indeed the “realist” position if societies and the support of other people are important and obviously they are. It’s rational. Sociopathy is the irrational position.

          I’m simply contending that this irrational thing is within all of us and that needs to be understood. As the Baptists say, hate the sin, love the sinner. This is the opposite of the sociopath’s rationalization–the sin is ok if we do it because were are “exceptional,” free of vice, etc. Darwin tells us no, that’s not true. We are all part of the same thing.

          1. Procopius

            When I was a child, I noticed that I am a very unskillful liar. Therefore I considered the possibilities and decided it was more economical to simply tell the truth as much as possible. Practicing until I was good at lying didn’t seem feasible. I accepted the aphorism, “A man who has to adopt the policy that ‘honesty is the best policy’ is not an honest man.” I haven’t read Darwin’s works, but I don’t think he said evolution is competition. Within a species there is a wide variation. For example there are tribes living in the Andes who carry genes that give them resistance to altitude sickness. When humans first moved into the area, most of them did not carry those genes, but a few did. Over generations, those who had those genes were able to work harder, gather more food, resist other diseases better. Most importantly, more of their children, who had the genes, grew up to have children, so over a long period of time almost everybody living in that region had those genes. The people with resistance did not go around knocking those without on the head. Evolution does not work that way. I recently saw an article which named one person in Darwin’s time who invented that claim, but I can’t remember where or the person’s name. I remember he was a male. When I was a teenager I read there was a Russian biologist who was promoting the idea that species which displayed altruism thrived more than species which did not cooperate. I believe it.

            1. Carolinian

              I didn’t say that “evolution is competition.” What I did say or was trying to say is that the spirit of competition with other members of our own species is part of our evolutionary heritage and for that matter practically every other species. It’s not a “good” or “bad” thing it just is. Denying this doesn’t change it. Accepting it allows us to control our instinctive urges and indeed cooperate.

    2. JEHR

      Henry Moon Pie: Very interesting. I enjoyed reading your comment as there is a lot to think about in it. Thank you.

  8. russell1200

    They are comparing the dimensions of a civilian vehicle to a tank. That is silly. It’s like comparing a cotton ball to a golf ball.

    Tanks during WW2 were generally made as compact as possible within the limits of what they were designed to do. So the “smaller” Sherman tanks weighs around 67,000 to 80,000 pounds. A current F-150 around 6,000.

    What they have clearly done is boost up the size as much as they could (an F-150 in 1990 weighed about 4,000 pounds) and increased hp (290 to 390 hp in 1990 ; 290 to 430hp in 2021) on the top end vehicles to keep them from getting sluggish. Clearly the “hybrid” is so that you can actually get somewhere on a tank of gas rather than some sort of eco objective.

    But they still aren’t a WW2 tank. More like an early war tankette. LOL

    1. The Rev Kev

      They had the right idea of comparing the dimensions of a civilian vehicle to a tank alright but they chose the wrong vehicle. In WW2 the Sherman tank had a reputation for catching fire quickly because they used gasoline for fuel. If hit, the crew had about 15 seconds to get out before it “brewed up”. So the Ford F-150 was a bad choice of vehicles. They should have chosen the Ford Pinto instead.

      1. deleter

        You’re right about the Sherman (and the
        Pinto) although in the case of the Sherman
        it was mostly due to a poor ammunition stowage design in the early models.
        The British and German tanks were also
        gasoline powered. Only the Soviets used
        diesels in their tanks.
        They made diesel Shermans for export
        to the USSR, but went with gas for their
        own forces to simplify

        1. russell1200

          All true. In additions the break down rate on the supposedly wonderful German tanks was astounding.

          The Sherman at a point in 1942 was the best main battle tank in service anywhere. But the shortsightedness in not increasing the size of its main armament (except the British with their 17 pounder) made it problematic by 1944.

          In any case they were variously up armored and served reasonably well to the end of the war. When you read accounts of the better US units fighting German armor after the Normandy breakout, the issue of tank quality doesn’t come up all that much. The Americans liked to pin down their opponent and blast them to pieces with their stunningly good artillery in any case.

    2. Sawdust

      I’ve basically stopped riding my bike thanks to the comically oversized trucks on the roads. I would prefer tanks. They don’t go 60 mph.

      1. Milton

        Why is it that every full-sized truck owner feels the need to back in to any parking space? It’s like they expect they will need to flee the scene for whatever reason. Also, I never realized that speed limits for full-sized trucks are 10-15 mph higher than regular vehicles.

        1. farragut

          I won’t presume to speak for others–nor am I a truck owner–but I back into most parking spaces for safety reasons. It’s not much of a consideration when parking, but when leaving I find it much easier to see oncoming traffic and/or pedestrians when I’m exiting the space nose first, rather than butt first.

          1. CanCyn

            Indeed. And when you back in, you’re backing in between 2 stationary vehicles. If you drive in and back out, you’re backing out to where there are moving vehicles. You’re either holding others up backing in or backing out on a busy lot. Do what is safest.
            I think large vehicles should be restricted to certain areas of the parking lot, away from the ends where traffic is crossing the parking rows. Small cars definitely make for safer parking lots.

      2. HotFlash

        In addition to light, reflector, and bell or horn, I believe that every cyclist should be required by law to carry a gun.

        1. RMO

          I think an M-72 or a Charlie G should be the minimum required by that proposed law. If you’re gonna shoot, shoot something big enough to take care of the problem.

    3. Kouros

      Weight is not a dimension. Length, width, height, on the three axes are dimensions… Engine power is also not a dimension…

  9. NotTimothyGeithner

    Re: the Taiwan war games

    I remember being told decades ago that the war games against China over Taiwan required the US to go nuclear. We would simply never be able to bring the forces to bear.

    You do have to admire the general announcing the equivalent of moving to the cloud as if fighting the Chinese will be as easy as Iraq if we have better communication. Marginal improvements in information sharing aren’t going to address the basic problem of not enough men. Also it’s a bit of a fantasy as the Chinese know the US will go nuclear.

    Even then, everyone already has star trek levels of communication abilities.

    1. David

      The problem is that war games don’t actually predict anything, as anyone who has designed or played in one will readily confirm. They are essentially diagnostic and training aids, and the “results” as such don’t matter that much, because they are heavily dependent on assumptions made at the start, the strengths and weaknesses of players and the basic rules of the game.

      This is a particular problem when you’re playing against yourself, because you are intimately familiar with your own limitations, but you don’t necessarily fully understand, or play by, the weaknesses of your opponents. The classic example of this was the first Gulf War, where red team gamers inflicted massive casualties on the notional US forces through a whole series of daring and clever moves. But the problem was the the Iraqi forces themselves were not capable of these daring and clever moves, partly because the standard of training was low, partly because they were operating according to very rigid Soviet-style doctrine, and partly because the Iraq of Saddam Hussein didn’t encourage creative thinking. The result was that the actual war turned out to be massively easier to fight than had been expected: entire Iraqi units, when cut off, did absolutely nothing because they were waiting for orders. I was told by people whose speciality this is that, after the war, they tried to design games to reproduce the actual result, and that it was basically impossible. The only way they could approximate the final result was virtually to ignore the size and equipment of the relative forces, and put nearly all the weight on training, leadership and quality of manpower. This was a controversial outcome in an environment where battles were expected to be decided by relative numbers and capabilities of equipment.

      None of this is to say that such games aren’t useful, and one of the lessons here is that the US can’t assume cyber dominance, and would need to think what happens if it loses it. But I’d be much more interested in games where the red team was intimately familiar with Chinese thinking and tactics, and played as they would rather than as the US would play against itself.

        1. John

          The US has no recent combat experience with a peer or near peer competitor. What worked in Afghanistan or Iraq or in this or that Special Operation has little bearing on confronting sophisticated up to date military forces. The necessity of uninterrupted information would be one of my first targets as would neutralizing carrier battle groups. The Chinese and the Russians and I know not who else have been addressing these vulnerabilities for some time.

          1. JTMcPhee

            “What worked in Afghanistan or Iraq” or in SF ops? What has “worked,” other than killing wogs and blowing stuff up? Don’t see much “overcoming the enemy’s will to fight” or whatever Clausewitz said. Wealth transfer to the MIC, yes, and steps up for the effing High Brass and their corruptions, but no “victories” to celebrate with ticker tape and bunting and all that.

      1. Polar Socialist

        …they were operating according to very rigid Soviet-style doctrine…

        This is not correct. Iraqi army at the time was using British WW2 doctrine adjusted by the experiences of Iran-Iraq war. Those Iraqi officers that had studied abroad attended either Sandhurst or Egyptian Military Academy. On the other hand, many did not attend any staff-level school at all because they were promoted quickly to Brigade or Corps command only because they were loyal baathists. Saddam Hussein himself believed not in doctrines or tactics, but in the simple supremacy of the “Arabian Warrior”.

        The “rigid Soviet doctrine” would have required extremely fast-paced operations deep in the enemy formations in order to prevent any use of nuclear strikes. This called for very highly trained officers on every level to constantly take the initiative on the fluent battlefield. In the context of the First Gulf War it would have dictated a preemptive attack on coalition positions by multi-column operational groups to negate the coalition supremacy in air-power and mobility with continuous series of close engagements.

        Speaking of war games as learning experiences, there was one in Sweden in 2019 that was unscripted and involved Norwegian, UK and US troops (aka NATO) attacking Swedish armored positions supported by Finnish mechanized unit. According to the public reports (and some scuttlebutt) the “near-peer” adversary pretty much kicked the back-end of the NATO forces in a spectacular manner. Pretty cold weather and very heavy snow. Nastiest surprise seemed to be the artillery-strong Finnish unit being able to constantly hit any NATO detachment in the area that slipped in the “heat signature discipline” with very precise simulated barrage. Norwegian IFV’s were so mauled by Swedish tanks they had to be resurrected several times just to restore some cohesion and prevent total collapse of the attacking force.

        1. David

          You’re confusing different levels, I think. Soviet strategic doctrine for a war in Europe against a powerful and well-armed adversary was pretty much as you describe: depth battle, operational manoeuvre groups, use of chemical weapons, and so on. But that was in a very specific context, and it remains an open question whether that doctrine would have been successful in practice.
          The reason for that is that at the tactical level, as you can see from Soviet military textbooks translated and published in the 70s, Soviet doctrine was extremely rigid and allowed little room for initiative. This in turn was because the Red Army consisted overwhelmingly of conscripts, often quite poorly educated and speaking different languages. The almost total absence of a professional NCO corps meant that everything had to be decided by officers. Thus, in the classic example, every unit would do an opposed river crossing in the same way. Where the Soviets had an influence on other armies, especially in the Arab world, these were the norms they brought with them: talk to an officer from Algeria or Egypt who did their training in the 1980s. The standard of education and training in the Iraqi Army was low, and tactics in the Iran-Iraq war resembled those of WW1. As you say, some Iraqi officers had studied abroad, but, even if they had absorbed British-style tactical doctrine, they had no opportunity to practice it.

          But the point I was making is simply that war-games like the one described rely far too much on comparisons of firepower and technology, and nowhere near enough on comparison of human factors. British and American attempts to game both wars against Iraq, before and afterwards, consistently produced wildly inaccurate answers, because the red teams brought their own assumptions to the battle rather than the enemy’s. (This isn’t new, of course: the US made the same mistake in Vietnam.)

          1. Polar Socialist

            Obviously we mostly agree :-)

            I still want to point out that according the 1970 census 27.5% of 20 year old Soviet citizens had high school or higher education. Everyone had at least 10 years, last 4 being heavy in basic science and mathematics. And for males, two years of mandatory pre-military training – so not really “poorly educated”.

            As for the NCO corps… In a conscript army the function and role is still there, even if not the exact phenomena. It’s just filled with warrant and junior officers. They trained me 35 years ago, and I guess I could still function as a member of a heavy mortar crew or survive in a checkpoint duty.

    2. IMOR

      “We basically attempted an information-dominance structure, where information was ubiquitous to our forces. Just like it was in the first Gulf War, just like it has been for the last 20 years, just like everybody in the world, including China and Russia, have watched us do for the last 30 years,” Hyten said. “Well, what happens if right from the beginning that information is not available? And that’s the big problem that we faced.”
      Yeah! You know- like EMF with two brain cells or two days of warfighting experience has told them it would for MORE than 30 years.
      P.S. Near-orbital and orbital space are equally deniable as networked communications.

    3. John

      Remember the old Kingston Trio Song that ends with, “And we know for certain that some lovely day, someone will set the Bomb off and we will all be blown away.” What a splendid prospect.

  10. upstater

    re. “It Failed Miserably”…

    Creating new ways to deliver fuel and supplies to front lines. U.S. Transportation Command and the Air Force are working on using rockets and a space trajectory to get large cargo spaceships into and out of battlefields.

    Let’s get this straight… the Pentagon is planning to use rockets and large cargo spaceships to deliver war material? Not only “into” battlefields but also “out” of them, too?

    Obviously the generals are playing too many video games. Or having too many steak dinners with the likes of Bezos or Musk. Or too many retired flag officers on the boards of Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Or microdosing LSD.

    We’ve heard of all sorts of crazy nonsense from the DOD for many decades now. But delivery of supplies to battlefields is absolutely bat$hit crazy.

    1. The Rev Kev

      How do they evacuate wounded soldiers in a set up like that? In Vietnam, the helicopters that brought food and ammo took out the wounded but they cannot do the same here. Supply would be a nightmare here, especially after those units fire off their allotted missiles. If the Pentagon is planning to use rockets and large cargo spaceships for resupply, if I were the Chinese I would watch where the delivery points were and then slam them with my own missiles. I understand that the US Marines are being organized so that they can be spread out across multiple islands to make them less of a target. But for the Chinese, that would open up the possibility of inflicting a defeat in detail-

      1. JTMcPhee

        This reminds me of the scenarios for the basing option for the Reagan-era “Peacemaker” (sic), especially the “Big Bird” one. That involved a fleet of maybe 100 747-sized aircraft carrying an MX missile that would be dropped out of a rear ramp with parachutes supporting it until ignition. For this to work in the war-gamed scenario provided by RAND, to be “secure against a Soviet first strike,” as I recall, the Empire would have to build 10,000-foot runways on a 20 mile checkerboard grid across the whole US of A to keep the Rooskies from knocking out this leg of the strategic bedside commode — 50 or more of the planes/missiles would have to be in the air continuously. Cost was some multiple of the entire annual US DGP, and there was a lot of support from the construction unions and industry. “Think of all those good-paying jobs, and the profits! Off the charts!”

        Effing stupid humans. Why we will never have nice things…

    2. Jeremy Grimm

      Scanning the buzz words and ‘concepts’ dropped into this brief but enticingly coquettish link finds such constructions as “Expanded Maneuver” and “aggregate to mass fires” or “information advantage” and any soldier or Government or Big Contractor employee will wonder which or perhaps what war our Pentagon generals are fighting. The link seems to equate ‘Joint’ with a push to “connect everything”. That is not quite what I remember as the goal for Joint Command. We have multiple services that do not communicate with each other. Being able to communicate is a problem. As I understood the original intent of ‘Joint’ went far beyond coupling information stovepipes. Joint — was supposed to re-consolidate our multiplying military services. But as Gomer Pyle might say — “Surprise! Surprise!” … that is not how it evolved.

      The last paragraph of the link, Pentagon’s statement:
      “We have to not ignore the threats in the Middle East, but deal with the threat to the Middle East in a different way, with a smaller footprint, so we can divert more of our body on threats in China and Russia.”

      What a scary thought evolving in the tiny minds of our Pentagon’s Best of Breed ‘leadership’.

  11. Carla

    Re: “Shadow State” by Jonathan Turley —
    The far right discovers the dangers of corporate personhood!

    If you’ve got a right-wing Congress critter, use Turley’s piece to convince them to sign on to “HJR-48 — Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States providing that the rights extended by the Constitution are the rights of natural persons only.”

    It now has 68 co-sponsors, all of them Democrat critters. Here’s a link to the full (short!) text:

    1. John

      Corporations having the rights of persons, flesh and blood critters like you and me, is a fact of law, but sometimes the law is an ass.

      1. Maritimer

        Or how about just giving natural persons the same rights as corporations? Write off your marriage, divorce, child, entertainment, heating, cooling, eating, etc. expenses just like the Big Corps. Where are the Legal Eagles on this one?

      2. heresy101

        It is not law, but the “nine lackeys of the one percent in black robes” that declared corporations “persons” with full rights in the latter part of the 19th century! Corporations have no rights under the constitution.

        1. Procopius

          Santa Clara County v Union Pacific Railroad, 1886. Interestingly, the doctrine is not in the body of the case, nor asserted by the judges. It is inserted in something called the “Headnote,” written by the Secretary of the Court, as a summary. There has been a lot of evidence that the Secretary was bribed by corporate interests, but the doctrine was popularized by one of the Justices and was so popular with businessmen that it has been accepted a settled precedent ever since.

    2. Carolinian

      The prob is that the current Dems seem to want more government control over corporations so they can intimidate them into censorhip. See Feinstein, Psaki etc.

      There’s really no percentage for Facebook or Google to be doing this since it reduces their pool of potential customers. Facebook started getting serious about censorship after Congresscritters–including some Democrats–urged them to do so. And even if the government had a hand in creating Google their long time business model was libertarian. Their censorship stance is a new business model where Google partners with the government. The silly Dems think this is just great and that they will bully the deplorables into liking them. But they won’t like it at all when some new equivalent of Dubya comes along and the Republicans start censoring them. There is an election next year.

  12. John Beech

    I came hoping for more IM Doc and instead read about three nutters, one in jail for doing the deed on the other two. There’s a joke lurking somewhere, maybe I just need more coffee, but whatever.

    Meanwhile, in Central Florida where Delta is beginning to run amok, I continue masking when going out, and horking my nasal cavities with 250-500ml of with saline laced with Betadine (depending on how close I felt I got to too many people). Here’s to hoping everyone here exercises all appropriate precautions.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Here in Tucson, I continue to put a mask over The Troublemaker (aka my mouth) and my snoot when I go into an enclosed space. I’m also avoiding crowds inside those spaces, and that means no trips to bars, restaurants, concerts, or any other sort of indoor show.

      This thing is a long way from being over.

  13. David

    I find it hard to believe that there are really people in the UK political and media worlds who are dumb enough to believe that the NIP can somehow just be changed to reflect what the current UK government wants. It is, repeat after me, an international treaty which the UK is required to abide by because it signed it. There are provisions in most treaties for review and modification, but that has to be by common agreement – in this case, on the part of the 27 EU states, including of course the RoI. But it’s like buying a house, and six months later deciding you want to negotiate the price down: actually it’s dumber than that.

    To be fair though, this isn’t really, or just “Johnson’s problem.” It was a problem which was absolutely certain to arise if Brexit went forward. There were a number of possible answers, none of them easy or good. Johnson’s error was to claim that he had solved an insoluble problem when he couldn’t. But insoluble problems have a way of coming back and biting you in the border.

  14. Basil Pesto

    that ‘Qld tradie to walk free after cutting off men’s testicles’ story raises more questions than it answers

  15. The Rev Kev

    “Meet the people who warn the world about new covid variants”

    This is a must read article this as it is a fascinating view of how science can get done and how sometimes it should be done. The article says that much of that work is falling to tech-savvy young researchers in their 20s like grad students and postdocs. You don’t have the WHO or the CDC breathing over their shoulders giving them politically-based directives and throwing up a wall of bureaucracy. Certainly such a structure would never accept the name Pango to be used. Nor do you have a Fauci swooping in to grab any credit or to levy any blame. Nor do you have Big Pharma throwing their weight around and telling them how to do their work and trying to monetize any developments and patent the work done for free by these people. Knowing that people like these are on the job is a bit of a confidence builder here.

  16. KLG

    Just one comment based on the link to the Harvard/MIT perfidy link:

    “Now most scholarship is published by an oligopolist quintet of information conglomerates that, in turn, charge their college customers usurious fees….That industry (no, sketchy business) is among the most profitable in the world, in part (primarily) because academics write and review for free. As the historian Aileen Fyfe has shown, there was nothing inevitable about the joint custody — nonprofit colleges and for-profit publishers — we’ve ended up with. We owe our current predicament, in part, to the decisions of learned societies who chose short-term cash over their scholar-members’ long-term interests. Harvard and MIT have just made the same disastrous miscalculation.”

    About 15 years ago I was asked by a former colleague who was a leading editor of the privately owned “leading” biochemistry journal if I would publish in said journal if they required a $100 submission fee. Yes, said I, if that was the only charge. But no, they would still be charging extra, including page charges and surcharges for color in the figures, as much as $2,000 for the privilege. The equivalent cell biology journal cost more. Basically, they were/are still charging the same fees as when all content was typeset by hand instead of digitally. And because of the page charges, the law required such papers to be identified as an “advertisement.” I responded that a slightly lower tier journal (by the odious Science Citation Index, which is a fraud that has done untold damage) was free, and the Reviewing Editor could approve color at no charge if the color was essential, as it was in protein structure illustrations and digital illustrations of immunofluorescence . The second journal was published by the American Chemical Society, founded in 1876. Anyway, looking back, I think our refusal to waste $2,000 of our extramural grant money each time the group published a paper hurt me. So be it. That $2,000 approached our monthly supply budget for three PhD students and two senior professionals at the MS level. The grift is strong in these people.

    1. zagonostra

      Thanks for bringing this to the foreground, I didn’t even know this was a position that was vacant. What does a “president” at the FDA do? Will he be responsible, or at least instrumental, in getting the mRNA CV19 vaccine’s certified?

  17. DJG, Reality Czar

    So-called Road Warriors: the size of U.S. vehicles

    Having sat last Saturday in an endless traffic jam on Lake Shore Drive and the Eisenhower expressway here in Chicago, I noticed enormous numbers of lumbering vehicles, characterized by poor maneuverability, a high center of gravity, and bad sightlines. (And I was annoyed at my car-share service for reassigning me to a Honda SUV–Honda’s least appetizing model.)

    The article points this out: “Vehicles driven by Americans have become gradually larger over the past three decades, driven by an overwhelming market preference for them. SUVs outsell sedans two-to-one.”

    My hypothesis is that the bigger + higher vehicles track the rise in U.S. obesity. I see plenty of people who can’t get in and out of a sedan. So I perceive it as product development that aligns with a potential health crisis.

      1. Carolinian

        I believe you are right. Also it gives them added protection while they are driving through stop signs and lights. The other vehicles will just bounce off.

  18. DJG, Reality Czar

    The Philosophy of Porn.

    The article is sort-a worth a reading. Yet why am I constantly noticing that these analysis of pornography come off like reviews of Bordeaux wines by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union?

    The assumption is that there is something wrong with looking a bodies. Yet in the classical world, it was considered good luck to expose the genitals. (And look up the Roman wind chime / decoration called a tintinnabulum, which displayed a fascinum for good luck. There is also a highly amusing Japanese myth about the dances of the goddess Ame-no-Azume. And I’m reminded of the story of Baubo, who tried to cheer up the goddess Demeter by telling dirty jokes.)

    So we are a long way from an ability to be less self-conscious about sex. U.S. culture also has genuine trouble with the body as body (as queer theory, gender theory, Christian theology, and their radical dualism all cycle over and over through ideas of the body as a disposable vessel).

    So? We have to have more imagination about pornography. Like wine, it isn’t going away.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      Could not access the article, so comments are comments to your comment. I believe that the only ‘philosophy’ of porn is what sells and what avoids official ‘sanctions’.

      US culture is obsessed with sex — just go to Yahoo and look at what is presented. Who cares about so-and-so’s breasts or bikini, or the sagging of their breast implants, or their butt augments and tucks!? The ancients enjoyed the phallus of Hermes marking their households. Who are ‘we’!?”

  19. The Rev Kev

    “Forget morality”

    I do wonder if it has occurred to the good professor that we live in a world already run by amoral people. So how has this worked out? How about a family that wants to sell an addictive drug that will kill about 40,000 of their fellow countrymen annually – and do it anyway. Or a group of billionaires who refuse to change how they do business because it will impact profits – even though it could cause an extinction level event on our planet. How about people running a system that sees people living in the streets – while it cheers billionaires doing rocket flights? NC is replete with stories of the effects of amoral people running everything from healthcare, education, science, etc into the ground because no matter how intelligent they are, they have no principles to live by and have so little moral compass, that they can barely find their way home of an evening. And that is how you decide if a moral system works. By observing the effects of the one currently used. And what that professor is suggesting is the one we have now that threatens to destroy life on this planet. Not a great plan.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      It has a feel of a dressed up libertarian argument. The author is just one sentence away from arguing everything can be bought and sold and we shouldn’t be bound by social convention.

    2. newcatty

      “Forget morality ”

      A lot of the manipulation of the population, at least here in the U.S., and I would guess in the Western world, has to do with the use of propaganda in all of its guises. People are taught to think, or believe, that the current meanings of words are what is in the narratives that spin around them in the constant bombardment of information. It’s first of all difficult to discern fact from fiction, lies from truth, sincerity from performance. Then people are in prompted into the dualism of our side vs the other. When this becomes normalized in their societies, then they decide that it’s the right thing to do, or the prudent thing to belong to their side. Morality is now defined by “our” side. It gets reduced to denotation and connotation. Morality becomes relative. “People living in the streets” is now how one perceives it to be an amoral fact in our country and cruel. People living in our streets is an eyesore, the poor will always be with us, they are “all” mentally ill, addicts, thieves (criminals), just deplorable. It’s a shame, let’s build “shelters” . Let’s celebrate what’s good in life! Morality isn’t relative to the perceived. Wait! A clear example, unless someone here disagrees ( if so I would judge you among the amoral), that pedophilia is amoral. Child abuse is amoral. Child labor or enslavement is amoral. There is no rationalization for it. It doesn’t matter if the child agreed to the situation. That’s rationalizing and ignoring that a child should never be used in any circumstance.

      I once was having a discussion with a very liberal and admired, in the community, person of renown. The topic was children, education and got around to pedophilia. I was astounded when she said, with no satire, that we in this country make such a big deal about it. It was so ethnocentric and archaic. In many places in the world girls were married when they reached puberty. Oh. She went on to say that society was reflecting change and modern culture. Girls now could enjoy sexual freedom. Who was she to say if a 12 year old enjoyed sex, that it was wrong? All that was needed, by society, was to make sure girls were “completely” educated sexually. She thought condoms should be given out” like free tampons”. This to me is the classic over reaction to women not having equal rights to men, We have thrown out the child with the dirty bath water. The tragic irony: the girl( of course should not forget boys) is not seen as a child. Epstein was allowed to exist as a predator. Children are hungry, now. Children are among the ” unhoused”. Children are drugged when annoying. Children are in our pipelines to prison, to the military and therefore the police. What’s love and morality have to do with it? Don’t forget, if someone doesn’t know how to play the game( system), then they deserve their pain and suffering.

      1. The Rev Kev

        July 27, 2021 at 5:50 pm’

        The next time that you are with your liberal friend, you should feel her out about how she feels about child labour laws and having once more young children in the workplace. I suspect that modern liberals would be quite happy with the idea of having child servants again like they did in the 19th century.

  20. Matthew G. Saroff

    Could someone explain to me how Bezos’ offer to NASA is not yet another case of predatory pricing to destroy a rival from him?

    1. RMO

      How can anyone do that? That’s exactly what it is. The rival being Musk’s Space X though, it’s hard for me to care too much. If only they would make it a personal fight to the death to determine who gets the Moon flight contract…

  21. The Rev Kev

    “US combat forces to leave Iraq by end of year”

    Yeah, about that. What about all those contractors? What about the special forces goons running around. Are the drone guys still staying? And the CIA contingent plus various detachments of the DEA, the FBI, State Department, etc.? And there is still that gargantuan Embassy complex which is going to require a large garrison. Will all those convoys be still running – the ones being attacked by the Iraqis at the moment? Those forces aren’t going anywhere so it is all PR.

  22. Basil Pesto

    Is there an independent source for Malone’s claim that he is the inventor of mRNA vaccines?

    1. KLG

      Short answer: Not really. As far as I can tell, he was identified as such by Bret Weinstein in the infamous podcast. Later that has been toned down to “developer of mRNA technology” in some sources.

      Dr. Malone was coauthor on the first (to my knowledge) paper on the transfection of RNA into animal cells. His subsequent work was largely on incremental improvements in this technique, which probably led directly the lipid nanoparticles used in the mRNA vaccines. Much of this is proprietary, but it has enabled the facile transfection of RNA and DNA into cultured cells. Essentially every molecular biology lab uses these products, which are generally more efficient than electroporation or the (ancient) use of calcium phosphate.

      Malone’s most recent published work on vaccines is about rapid responses to emerging pathogens. This is on point, but none of these papers mentions mRNA-based vaccines, including the one on Zika virus (for which mRNA vaccines did not work, to my knowledge).

      Last time I looked earlier this month his most recent published work is on famotidine (Pepcid) as a treatment for COVID-19. His apparent institutional affiliation is to himself. Which is good for him!

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      See KLG. He is most assuredly NOT the “inventor of mRNA vaccines” even though his LinkedIn page makes that claim, at the top!

  23. a fax machine

    re: truck sizing.

    It’s a direct consequence of fiscalization of these companies. In a previous (saner) era, more weight/size = more material = more money. Thus, consumers would have to actually choose what truck they wanted, if they even needed one, because they would have to actually but it. Credit has removed this cognitive function and people just sign the line now and deal with the ripoff later. It’s why there are few economy cars or small pickups (or cars with beds like an El Camino) because those cars don’t have the same margins as a bigger vehicle. Simultaneously, better engine and control technology can allow a normal person to drive such vehicles safely. No longer do you have to warm up an engine or worry about skidding thanks to EFI and ABS. Ditto for big semi trucks, thanks to the reduced amount of models and mfgs available (GM, Ford and Dodge stopped making semis in the 1990s) the average price trends higher. Though, this is partially offset by the growing amount of re-engining and truck reconstruction spawned by new CA emissions laws. Food for thought in the Right To Repair debate.

    This has larger consequences than one would expect. With the trucker shortage, companies are desperate to find willing drivers – however nobody wants to commit themselves into a (wage)slavery CDL training contract with a carrier for a year. Enter medium sized trucks (F-6/7/8 series), which used to be more popular before the Interstates were setup. Such vehicles are limited to 10,000 lbs but they can use existing delivery drivers – this is the next step for Amazon subcontractors and likely Amazon itself. It also lets them pay them a delivery driver’s wage vs a trucker’s wage – and such vehicles work well with an “Uber For Freight” type scheme as independent truckers are too aggressive and too cavalier for that sort of scheme (though this problem decreases if a warehouse monopoly exists between Amazon and Walmart, but even then this only applies to line-hauls and not LTL which is what Uber For Freight would likely be).

  24. Brooklin Bridge

    This [Pegasus] is no ordinary spying. Our most intimate selves are now exposed -Guardian

    Jonathan Turley said that the solution to freedom of speech was more freedom of speech, (or something to that effect).

    Is the answer for Pegasus to come up with open source versions of it so that everyone can know the most intimate selves of everyone else until they are so grossed out, or so bored, that no one will spy anymore, or at the very least there will be more democracy in spying?

    Imagine wading through Biden’s morass of scattered thought fragments, or Trump’s stunted closed loop approval manias or Obama’s snuff day people misting power trips or his cash register of a brain. It’s gotta get old fast and anyway if everyone can see everyone else, it just might put a little bit of balance that’s gotten so out of whack back in the mix.

    1. Brooklin Bridge

      Correction (past the edit limit):
      Is the answer for to Pegasus to come up with…

      1. newcatty

        Imagine wading through…thought fragments, approval manias, spying.

        This is why I do not do any social media. Especially Faceborg.

    2. David

      The Guardian story completely misunderstands what Pegasus is all about. No government would, or could, deploy such a tool on a massive scale, partly because of the cost, but mostly because of the scale of the data harvested. Any government can intercept your calls and text messages whenever it likes. (Amazon and Facebook have nothing to do with this). But your telephone (probably) contains gigabytes and gigabytes of music, photos, videos, games, as well as documents of different types including copies of your electricity bill and that cartoon that somebody sent you a copy of years ago. No government has the resources or the incentive to plough through that lot.
      What the story misses, and what almost all commentary has missed, is that Pegasus is an elite weapon for use against very precise targets, but that it is also a weapon that the poor can afford. The French media has been full of the fact that the Moroccans were using Pegasus to spy on Macron’s phone. Now even if you accept that there are no secrets on that phone, it’s still embarrassing and disorienting to learn this. Oddly, the main effect of Pegasus and similar technologies could be to level the electronic intelligence playing field substantially: maybe the Nicaraguan government could decide to target the phones of Biden and his senior acolytes, for example.

    3. Big River Bandido

      It was Thomas Jefferson with the comment about free speech. Not Jonathan Turley.

  25. XXYY

    US combat forces to leave Iraq by end of year (BBC)

    There are currently 2,500 US troops in Iraq helping local forces counter what remains of the Islamic State group.

    Numbers of US troops are likely to stay the same but the move is being seen as an attempt to help the Iraqi PM.

    Huh? Did the writer accidentally say the quiet part out loud? That they are just going to move the existing US troops to a different place in some org chart and then pretend they are “gone”?

  26. Big River Bandido

    The Hill on “infrastructure deal”:

    This story has absolutely zero substance, with nothing about the actual contents of the bill. I’m quite sure this is by design because of the crap that’s buried in the bill that they don’t want people to know about until after it’s passed and too late to do anything about it (“asset recycling” cough cough cough).

    I hope the bloody thing fails.

  27. K.k

    The New Republic article touches on the impending foreclosure and eviction crisis and mentions the billions allocated by congress. It was around 40 billion dollars allocated in the last stimulus.

    $21.55 billion for emergency rental assistance,
    $5 billion in emergency Housing Choice Vouchers,
    $5 billion in homelessness funding, including for tenant-based rental assistance, development, and supportive services,
    $9.96 billion for homeowner mortgage assistance.

    This was back in march. To me this seemed like an impressive amount. But I would like to know if its actually commensurate to the need out there? How much of this money has been distributed? The article mentions some states are making it difficult to distribute the funds by implementing onerous and difficult application process. Are these states trying to limit the distributions of these funds?

  28. flora


    “We demand rigidly defined areas of doubt and uncertainty.”

    -Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Data? We ain’t got no data! We don’t need no data! We don’t have to show you any stinkin’ data!’

  29. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    Private cryptocurrencies make lousy national currencies: International Monetary Fund The Register
    “But the idea of blockchain-powered money is worth government consideration”

    Crypto is serving the ultimate purpose(s) that it was designed for, a sophisticated gambling platform that reinforces and normalizes the background steady state of institutionalized theft along with the further normalization of corruption and extreme greed as the dominant and accepted personal and societal goal, the economic holy grail. Crypto reinforces all of the negative values associated with the current economic system by encouraging all of the participants to embrace and internalize those same negative values as both personal and social norms and highly valued objectives in and of themselves. It also serves as the method of introduction for the universal acceptance for government digital currencies and the move towards a fully digitalized ‘cashless’ society by means of habituation associated with feeding frenzies and gambling. That is, the state will embrace the platform, using the PR rationale of seeking to reduce criminality.

    “The cryptocurrency industry is controlled by a powerful cartel of wealthy figures who, with time, have evolved to incorporate many of the same institutions tied to the existing centralized financial system they supposedly set out to replace. He said the industry leverages a “network of shady business connections” that perpetuates a “cult-like ‘get rich quick’ funnel.” Cryptocurrencies, he said, take the worst parts of today’s capitalist system – corruption, fraud, and inequality – and use software to limit regulation, audits, and taxation.”

    “Luke Ellis, the CEO of Man Group, the world’s largest publicly listed hedge fund, said in an interview with Financial Times that cryptocurrencies have no inherent value but make good trading instruments because of their volatility. “If you look at cryptocurrencies as a whole, it is a pure trading instrument. There is no inherent worth in it whatsoever,” Ellis told the Financial Times. “You can have an infinite number of different cryptocurrencies … Anyone can start another one any day.”

  30. Jeremy Grimm

    “Stirring the Embers of Faith”
    What a beautifully written book review about what sounds like a beautifully written biography of Graham Greene. My only exposure to Graham Green has been through watching the Third Man, countless times. I will have to amend that. It might be interesting to compare the writings of Graham Greene with those of John Le Carre, whose books, not all or most, I have read, and I enjoyed every one of them.

    I became so engrossed in reading that review I completely forgot the water I set to boil for tea. Now I have to start again.

    1. JEHR

      I have ordered the biography and two of Green’s books. I look forward to really good reads this winter!

  31. Jeremy Grimm

    >”The Insecurity Industry”:
    Snowden’s critiques are beginning to have a certain ‘remoteness’, for me. I am not sure whether that is due to his or my remoteness from what is happening.

    Item #2 of Snowden’s critique of current coding using insecure languages bothered me. Many of the older languages are insecure, and insecure for relatively trivial reasons. I may be mistaken, but I had the impression there were tools available, but rarely used, for catching those places where coders got sloppy. Once caught, assuming they were allowed time to make the fixes, many of the fixes were also trivial — truly trivial not mathematics ‘trivial’. The safer languages — I know nothing about Rust — tend to be horrors to code with.

    In item #2, Snowden suggests there should be some liabilities for bad code. I am 100% in favor of that idea, and only wonder why the tort attorneys have been unable to purchase laws to use in monetizing such liabilities they might define. Of course I also fear that any liability laws Congress might enact would have greater impact on Linux than on Microsoft or Apple — much as anti-trust laws seemed most effective in the US ‘legal’ system as a tool for crushing Labor unions.

    Item #3 discusses monocultures of software and systems — and possible doorways to anti-trust legal maneuvers … for National Security. This assumes the Government has any real concern for such abstractions as National Security … I believe Government National Security concerns are a dubious conjecture. A monoculture of hardened software might be different, tied to extremely limited access to the computer internals tied to the Internet.

    I must strongly disagree with Snowden’s remedies vaguely hinted at in items #4 and #5. I believe, we must re-think the wisdom of putting so much at risk via the Internet. Convenience is ‘nice’, but security is vital. I believe the US is an assymetric target for a cyber-attack. With the US Internet down and compromised we would be ‘toast’ so-to-speak. I am not sure that is true of many of our enemies large and small.

    It may cut costs, lower head counts, and raise profits, while adding ‘convenience’ — but how many of the functions, some of them critical functions to our Society — are tied to and controlled through the Internet? What is the value of convenience if it means the easy vulnerability of your Society? Our Neoliberal Market computers have reached an incorrect answer to their computations.

    [Before things are repaired — I am not holding my breath … I would like to find a hack into the iphones of both the Pelosi’s iphones and the iphones of a few CEOs and a few Senators and Congressmen so I could get some juicy insider information to guide a few very profitable trades on the stock ‘market’ — probably trades in aged, out-of-the-money options. I doubt the SEC will mind or actionably notice. I hope it might add a ‘nice’ augment to my retirement funds.]

    I believe the best security is a physical, mechanical switch as in a positional toggle switch, separating Internet access from the rest of a computer’s internals. That might be a nice and effective security feature. Most of us surf around the Internet without ever needing access to the rest of our computer. Having worked in Government, in less than sufficiently distant past, I cannot say that Government users have any greater need to access the capabilities of anything beyond a browser and occasionally some storage — easily isolated from the rest of their computer. Other accesses to computers via the many protocols available using the Internet, — should be routed to HoneyTraps in the provider networks — Honeytraps actually inspected and acted upon. The Government might create and maintain a SECURE browser for use in Government networks and on the web. Instead of chasing ephemeral webpage ‘improvements’ and media ‘improvements’ the Government browser might constrain the insanity of webpage and server program ‘improvements’. Suppose my browser will not let me watch Goggle Youtube modified content ‘X’ … BFD [an acronym I will not spell out]. Let Youtube and Goggle change.

  32. Jeremy Grimm

    Yves, I will make the assumption that I can speak for all readers, commenters, and readers who do not comment. We are all very glad to have you back. Lambert and Jerri-Lynn have indeed done a wonderful job in your stead, but … we are very glad to have you back. I hope your recent setbacks are but small bumps in a smooth road ahead. Welcome back Yves.

    Instead of comments to pile on, please pile on only if you disagree. I believe the weight of quiet, will weigh heavily in agreement with my comment.

  33. LarryB

    So, we’re seeing the end of open source software, again. Used to be I would see these articles almost daily, usually written by someone with a vested interest in closed source software. The author overlooks the fact that the attack was detected and blocked and measures taken to make sure it couldn’t happen again, and that all of his so called weaknesses in open source exist in closed source, perhaps even more strongly since there are generally far fewer eyes looking at the closed source code.

    1. MartyH

      The appearance of this daily reactionary worship of the “open source” of the early days and Ed Snowden’s comments, no matter how well meant, are supremely ironic.

      For the first, neither your mobile phone nor your Apple/Windows/Chrome computer is Open Source. It is built on top of Open Source Software but what Snowden talks about is is in what is on top (with a little in the Open Source). But it is in the magic Apple/Google/etc. proprietary bits that the nastiness happens.

      For the latter, The Open Source business model has always been built on the backs of voluntary and paid contributers. The article is complaining about two very different problems. Corporate funding is drying up because … corporate funding is fickle. And direction of the overall strategy and quality control is a shapeless consensus of people not communicating and uncaring about the ramifications of the work of others. Anything more I would contribute would descend into the throwing of brickbats and cream pies.

  34. Maritimer

    You have got to be %^(^%&*_ kidding Department:
    Quebec offers 3rd dose of mRNA COVID vaccine to AstraZeneca recipients who need to travel CBC (ma)
    Quebec has allowed mixin’ ‘n matchin’, their safe and effective Covid vaccines contrary to even WHO guidelines. They also ignore WHO guidelines for child vaccinations. True of most other jurisdictions in Canada.

    So now, because you the Vaccinated mixed ‘n matched, you may have a problem when you want to travel. Therefore, you may have to top up with a third shot:
    “The Health Department says it is making a third dose available because some countries don’t recognize people as being fully vaccinated if they have received a mix of COVID-19 vaccines. But officials warned Monday it’s up to the recipient to seek advice and weigh the risks before getting a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines.” How are you going to do that in a rationed Public Healthcare Monopoly?

    So now “…it’s up to the recipient to seek advice and weigh the risks ….”. That’s after all the Politicians, Celebrities, Experts said: “Just Get Vaccinated”.

    Sitting on the Vax sidelines is looking better and better each day.

  35. drumlin woodchuckles

    I think that the Coronavid epidemic will be America’s slow-motion Chernobyl. The response by the various levels of authority will discredit various levels of authority over the next few years. After that, the DC FedRegime will look and smell Brezhnevian for years while the RegimeLords try various Andropov-figures and Gorbachev-figures to see if any of them can inspire a new burst of ” legitimosity”. After that, the DC FedRegime Lords will work with the business community to try instituting an All-American version of the ChinaGov CommuNazi PartyState regime in suitable stars-and-stripes disguise. The harder it tries, the more legitimacy will melt away like a shit-slushy in a microwave oven.

    Those regions and localities which have vastly less Coronavid at the end of this all ( if any do) will have a Separate Survival Legitimacy among the inhabitants of those regions ( if any). Those may become the nucleii of future City-States, Free Republics, etc. The rest will become neo-barbarian kingdoms or Somaliform Anarchistans. Be fun to see who gets the CBA weapons. ( CBA stands for ChemBioAtomic).

    After that, who knows?

  36. The Rev Kev

    “37 Comparisons Of The Sizes Of Prehistoric Animal Ancestors And Their Modern Relatives By Roman Uchytel”

    Great comparisons and those ancient mammals were huge. It seems that one of the reasons that mammal size increased was tied to the amount of oxygen in the air. And of course no longer having to deal with dinosaurs as competitors-

    How our ancestors coped with this megafauna is still an open question.

  37. skippy

    Ref – Private cryptocurrencies make lousy national currencies: International Monetary Fund The Register

    Um … the use of fiat for the pokies of FX[????] trading, on increasingly targeted ignorant young people, using their smart phones[tm] after being conditioned by them …. and ……. then Elon Musk just does a Temple Grandin on them all … absurdly delirious~~~

    BTW YS any sexy scars – ?????? – asking for a friend, but if that is inappropriate I’m braced for some altruistic punishment … as always …

  38. skippy

    BTW the Monetary Faith – Philip Pilkington link was refreshing compared to the usual monetary orthodoxy[tm] faith based perspective …. wipes tear from eyes for taking some olds to task …

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