Links 8/12/2021

Unwetter in den Niederlanden: Maus rettet sich in den Fluten auf einen Plastikschuh RTL (Uwe). You can watch a video of the mouse escaping the flood in a shoe here.

People Are Shaming Their Dogs, And Here Are 43 Of The Worst Good Boys Ever BoingBoing

This Bee Builds Sandcastles at the Beach KQED (resilc)

Ex-chancellor bemoans VW currywurst loss DW (resilc)

New study says humans killed Neanderthals by having sex with them The Hill (furzy)

Vanishing ice and threat of extinction to polar bears – dire Arctic forecast from Fyodor Konyukhov Siberian Times (guurst)

Yayoi Kusama pumpkin sculpture washed into sea by Japan storm Guardian (resilc)

Highest recorded temperature of 48.8C in Europe apparently logged in Sicily Guardian (Kevin W)

Siberian wildfires dwarf all others on Earth combined LiveScience (David L)

Bio-inspired, blood-repelling tissue glue could seal wounds quickly MedicalXpress


Why should we dance? New Criterion. Anthony L: “I do love Sophocles, and especially Oedipus Rex.”


More than 50 long-term effects of COVID-19: a systematic review and meta-analysis Nature (guurst)

Israel’s Covid infections surge as government rolls out booster shots Financial Times

From end of July, we’d somehow missed it: Moderna, Pfizer must expand clinical trials of COVID vaccines to children ages 5 to 11 at request of FDA MSN. From IM Doc

As someone who was on an IRB for decades – about 75% of the time – this kind of move means that some significant safety data has come up and they are being forced to expand the cohorts to see if the signals are still there in a larger group. The N of these studies are very specifically engineered to provide the correct statistical power for what they need. When they have to DOUBLE the subjects – that is a sign something is not quite working out well. Usually safety. It certainly is not a good sign, especially in the middle of an emergency.

Hat tip guurst. Re 1. below, that varies by time from full immunity, so 50% is really not accurate, immunity is time dependent as well upon vaccine (J&J looking more robust v. Delta). Nevertheless:

I am now happily using a badger seal! No fogging glasses, unlike with my KN95s, even when double masked with a procedure mask underneath. And comfortable to wear:

Health Ministry official: Most people will end up being infected with COVID Times of Israel (resilc). Called by our GM, via e-mail, in early May:

Some more sobering simple math. Let’s say the vaccine is 90% protective against severe disease over a period of two years. Then one can expect to have on average three serious COVID episodes by the time he is 60 even if he is always up-to-date with his biannual vaccinations (and there is no knowing how much more virulent to young people it will have become in the future with all the serial passaging). We now see what round #1 of mass reinfections looks like in India. So that is the “solution” being offered right now. However, it will probably not happen as one giant apocalyptic wave so it can be pushed to the background as a non-problem…


Delta coronavirus variant is putting babies and children in special isolation wards in Japanese hospitals ABC Australia (Kevin W)

Sri Lankan president opposes lockdowns, as Delta variant spreads WSWS


French President Macron Says Anti-Vax Protesters Have Lost Their Minds Bloomberg. Anthony L: “Macron. The French Obama.”


Mississippi’s Largest Hospital Converting Garage to COVID Ward as State Short on ICU Beds Newsweek (Kevin W)

Texas Governor Ramps Up Fight as Resistance to Mask Ban Grows Bloomberg

Coronavirus in Minnesota: Case positivity up; more than 300 hospitalized MinnPost (WD). It does have a tabulation of breakthrough cases and their hospitalization rates, but no timeframe. The hospitalization rate looks mighty high. The problem is, as GM said: “That’s sampling bias — the bar for being a “case” if vaccinated is much higher (thanks, CDC) so of course the vaccinated will be sicker.”

Look at the Anti-Science in Our National Reaction to COVID. Then Imagine If the Marburg Virus Made It Here. Esquire. While narrowly true, ignores how WHO credibility is shot and for good reason.


China cracks down on post-work drinking and ‘harmful karaoke’ Financial Times. Not only is China wary of following American bad practices, it’s vigilant about Japanese conduct too. Before its bubble busts, Japanese business entertainment was estimated at 1% of GDP.

Reckoning of developed nations’ luxury emissions – As extreme weathers hit many parts of the world, some attempt to dump blame on China Global Times (guurst)

Old Blighty

Brexit Impact Tracker – 8 August 2021 – Sovereignty – What for and with what consequences? Gerhard Schnyder (guurst). Still germane.

Britain is Sleazier and More Corrupt, But the Pandemic is Only Partly to Blame CounterPunch (Chuck L)

Poland’s ruling party rams through media law despite US warnings Politico


Biden on Afghanistan: Not my problem Politico (Kevin W)

Afghanistan war: Taliban back brutal rule as they strike for power BBC. Resilc: “Why would this be a shock?”

All roads lead to the Battle for Kabul Asia Times. Resilc: “I love the group photo.”

Bahrain urged to investigate third prison death in months Al Jazeera. Wellie…

Water scarcity biggest threat to stability in Middle East Asia Times. Resilc: “…and the future war between California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Colorado….”

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Amazon, Google and other tech companies join government effort to fight ransomware CNBC (Bill B) From last week, still germane.

NYPD Secretly Spent $159 Million On Surveillance Tech Since 2007 Engadget

Imperial Collapse Watch

PATRICK LAWRENCE: A Different World Order Consortiumnews (Anthony L)

In Pursuit of Clarity: the Intellect and Intellectual Integrity of Pierre Sprey CounterPunch. Chuck L:

Sprey will be missed. However Cockburn’s eulogy him over– emphasizes his role on the F-16 development. It was driven more by John Boyd than Sprey. The DoD now IDs and selects out people like Boyd and Sprey before before they can do much “damage.

A fleet of winged underwater robots will patrol the seas for the US Navy Popular Science. Kill me now. Remember they tried dolphins?

2021 Military Strength Ranking GlobalFirepower. Resilc: “I put my money on the VietCong and the Taliban.”


Judge: Dominion suits against Trump allies Giuliani, Powell, Lindell can proceed The Hill


Biden urges investigation into ‘illegal activity’ that may be causing spike in gas prices USA Today (David L)

Elizabeth Prelogar nominated by Biden to be solicitor general CNN. Resilc: “She could be the real Russian in DC.”

Cuomo Defenestration

Cuomo is Guilty of the Subprime Mortgage Crisis Too American Conservative (resilc)

Oregon scraps requirement for high school students to prove proficiency in math, reading and writing Daily Mail

Woke Watch

New Census data to show US diversifying at fastest rate ever The Hill

Our Famously Free Press

Meet the Censored: Paul Jay Matt Taibbi. Please circulate widely. And kudos to Matt for going after YouTube.

Further Blow to Press Freedoms as US Wins Appeal in Effort to Extradite Julian Assange Common Dreams

The US used-car bubble has burst Quartz (resilc)

Inflation Deceleration – Multiple Measures Menzie Chinn

The Cryptocurrency Lobby Is a New Major Climate Enemy Gizmodo (Kevin W)

What Happens to a Pipeline After It Dies? Vice

New Research Shows Inferior Outcomes In Online College Programs Forbes:

No EV tax credit if you earn more than $100,000, says US Senate: The amendment would also limit the tax credit to EVs that cost less than $40,000. ars technica

‘Apps Getting Worse’ Tim Bray. “Getting”? How about “Have gotten”? Peak word processing was WordPerfect circa 1994. Peak spreadsheeting was Lotus’s Improv, which IBM curiously refused to sell despite multiple offers after it bought Lotus. The NeXT was the best GUI evah.

US Lawmakers Introduce Bill To Rein In Apple, Google App Stores Reuters

Google may cut pay of staff who work from home BBC

Class Warfare

Family Dollar employees at Nebraska store walk off job, cite low pay and long shifts Fox5NY. Resilc: “Too bad they didnt burn it to the ground on the way out.”

‘They rake in profits – everyone else suffers’: US workers lose out as big chicken gets bigger

Labor shortage gives retail and restaurant workers the upper hand—for now CNBC. I would not be so confident. Although it was vastly more deadly, the Black Plague fundamentally restructured labor relations for centuries. If Covid persists, low wage and “essential” workers have every reason to not work or restrict hours. On the other side of the ledger, corporate profit share of GDP has been insanely high for over a decade. Most companies can afford to pay more. They are just to greedy to do so except under duress.

Antidote du jour. Tracie H: “Sebastian giving me the ‘feel free to do something for me’ look.”

And a bonus. Finally, something difficult enough to keep a border collie entertained.

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Paradn

    Black Plague labor shortage was dealt with by passing maximum wage laws to nullify labors bargaining power and also they made it illegal to be unemployed. Took a hole punch to your ear if you didn’t have a job.

    1. The Rev Kev

      What also happened was that labourers left in the middle of a night to offer their services to another Lord known to be short of workers a few parishes over. These new Lords, faced with returning the errant peasants to their harsh former Lord, kept quite and accepted these new people to help keep his own land in production rather than let it fall fallow permanently. And several hundred years later American workers are also voting with their feet.

      1. Generalfeldmarschall von Hindenburg

        More people started moving into urban areas also around that time. Presumably skilled trades people. Curious about how places in the Islamic world dealt. You don’t read much about it.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          The same as everywhere else. Clash of civilization stuff alert. Apologies for glossing over too much. The big difference is the Black Death ended all kinds of feudal arrangements and wrecked long term continental trade routes, the Silk Road. Europe once on the periphery and less affected by the trade disruptions, armed with a now free population moved into creating their own sail based trading empires. The Islamic areas like China weren’t that bad before the Black Death, so rebuilding was the order of the day.

          Although the Ottomans, who would never have taken over the previous Muslim states without the Black Death, would end the “Byzantine Empire”, it was a trading state that was already reduced by crusaders before the Black Death. Then they were stopped.

          Muslims all over the world would go on the Hajj back then. The logistics of that are crazy to think about. It was what we would call civilized. It wasn’t a feudal society of hicks, rampaging to get out of whatever local trouble they were in.

    2. Matthew G. Saroff

      The Black Plague labor laws also were spectacularly ineffective.

      BTW, the emergence of higher wages, and the resulting laws, are the only historical indicator that what is now Poland was slammed by the Black Death,

      Wages skyrocketed, despite there being no contemporaneous records showing the epidemic.

  2. Bill Smith

    “The US used-car bubble has burst”

    Does all this stuff about “transitory” inflation mean that prices will go back to where they were in December 2020? No. Nothing tranistory about inflation. The hike in prices is the new baseline.

    1. Wukchumni

      En route to camping @ San Clemente State Beach last month, you drive past about 100 new car dealerships and there were sure a lot of hastily erected ‘We Buy Used Cars’ (‘used’ being utilized to emphasize they’ll buy anything, perhaps?) banners strewn so as to catch the eye of passerby on the 5.

      Just got to 160k on my Tacoma and expect another 160k out of it, and if it wasn’t for all the assorted cosmetic injuries sustained over a dozen years in beating around the bush, a dent here or there, brush marks from tight squeezes between scratchy groundcover off-road, or that time I almost missed that concrete filled post leaving the gas station-but didn’t and there’s a welt in the panel as a result, and say the truck was unmarked, I might be able to get $20-25k out of it, and I paid $28.5k new.

      1. lordkoos

        In the west, pickups and all-wheel-drive vehicles have always tended to hold their value extremely well, now even more so apparently. That is helped by the crazy high prices for brand new trucks and AWD cars.

      2. John k

        Hard to believe we need so many dealers on the Main Street…
        I tried to sell my 2013 sedan last fall, finally went in the spring as prices began rising… sold too soon… wife has no regrets…

    2. Katniss Everdeen

      The reasons for the hectic pace set by used cars for the past three months can all be traced to the pandemic. A temporary slowdown in production and a shortage of computer chips shrank the supply of new cars on the market. At the same time, as the economy reopened, Americans started wanting to travel more, and to spend some of the money they’d saved during pandemic lockdowns.

      I’m sorry, but this whole thing never made much sense. At one point we were even being told that, “because covid,” people were willing to pay more for a used car than for a comparable NEW car, fer chrissakes.

      Following “covid logic,” the car people already owned–a “used” car–was “newer” than normal for its age in terms of mileage / wear and tear due to lockdown lack of commuting or traveling. Yet we’re supposed to believe that the minute lockdowns were lifted, people just had to blow their “savings” on a different, more expensive used car so they could “travel more?”

      Sounds to me more like an attempt to cash in on some fake FOMO “reopening” frenzy, and get car prices up to a stickier, inflated level for the future.

    3. Jomo

      Yes, a very deceptive headline about the “bubble has burst”. If you read the article, used car prices have risen 42 % over the past 12 months. Nothing in the article about a recent decline, just a slowing increase.

      1. polar donkey

        My brother-in-law works at a used car dealership. Still pretty busy. My nephew has a 2016 Silverado. $45,000 new. Lot offered to buy it. Selling 2016’s for $40,000+. Still insane

    4. PlutoniumKun

      Only tangentally related, but there has been a boom in Ireland in importing used cars…. from Japan. Ireland is RHD like the UK and Japan, but Brexit has cut off the supply of used cars from the UK, much to the distress of many buyers who love the cheap ex-fleet cars and ex PHP cars that are always in surplus there. I’ve no idea why even European made cars are so cheap in Japan.

      It blows my mind that it can be financially viable to import BMW’s from Japan to Ireland but it really is a thing. They are quite popular as of course the typical Japanese car has been very carefully driven. A friend bought a Japanese mazda camper – he’s 6’4” so he has to pretty much double up inside, much to his wife and daughters amusement.

      1. lordkoos

        Japanese environmental regulations are such that you must retire your car after a certain amount of miles, so used cars there are typically exported, primarily to SE Asia but also to other parts of the world. The cars are generally in excellent condition. I once replaced the engine in a 1990s Camry with a used one from Japan for $1000 + labor.

      2. R

        PK, are you able to explain how Brexit has cut the supply of ex-UK secondhand cars below that of ex-Japan ones, when the UK has merely moved to third country status like Japan and when Japanese market cars require re-homologation for the EU market (friend doing PhD in Tsukuba brought his Subaru Impreza back)? Is there a special provision in the EU-Japan trade deal? Because otherwise this sounds like “because Brexit” when I suspect other reasons may be at play (e.g. tight UK car market).

        (PS: In-laws just bought a new used car in NI at vast expense compared to the price they could have paid on mainland but they refused to buy other than locally so there is clearly not a seamless market between NI and GB for used cars any more than EIRE-GB).

    5. genezip

      I’ll admit to being confused here….why would prices return to Dec 2020 levels? The spring “reopening” (lol) certainly led to some surprising supply/demand relationships, but I don’t understand why we would expect pre-pandemic prices to be the baseline. It’s a completely different labor market at this point. We would have to have significant deflation to reach those price levels, which would mean serious price volatility – which seems much worse than stabilization at this point. And from a colloquial perspective, when we say “inflation decreased”, we usually don’t mean that price gains from inflation were wiped out by deflation.

  3. zagonostra

    >French President Macron Says Anti-Vax Protesters Have Lost Their Minds Bloomberg. Anthony L

    French President Emmanuel Macron has stepped up criticism of radical anti-vaccine demonstrators…The Elabe poll for Les Echos newspaper and Radio Classique also showed that 61% of those surveyed were in favor of compulsory vaccination

    Any article that begins with this sentence is bound to gloss over the issues of civil rights vs. personal freedoms and the danger of gov’t over reach.

    If 61% of the people want to impose their will on the 39% then what’s the problem, case closed, Vox Populi=Vox Dei.

    1. oglenn22

      It’s been said, possibly by Benjamin Franklin, that “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch.” The US is still 60% white so would it be OK for that 60% to say that Black and Hispanic people had to sit in the back of the bus? Who is to speak for personal rights, the SCOTUS? Not lately. Who in France, or England, or any other supposedly morally advanced nation will speak for the minority population when the Majority believes the minority has “lost their minds.”

      Democracy has devolved into serial dictatorship. It’s no wonder there’s so much division and anger in the world. If democracy has failed then maybe it’s time to consider some other political theory. I think it’s the Majority that has lost their minds. Here’s a good theory on what has gone wrong.

  4. Sam Adams

    Re: Google may cut pay of staff who work from home BBC
    But do the staff get to charge Google office rent and utilities?
    Just askin’ for a friend.

    1. chris

      You’d hope that the federal government could set a new baseline for what a job is and modernize their systems to offer people remote work. I bet a lot of people would choose to work for the feds if they got the benefits and could continue to work from home. It would do a lot to help with the staffing challenges the feds have which impact how quickly money from these bills can be dispersed.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        You would hope. But have you seen where federal workers live? The lobbyists, federal workers, defense contractors, and so forth would panic if working from home became an option. Outside of a few small neighborhoods, Northern Virginia is godawful. No one wants to live there. New workers would simply not buy a hideous bedroom community. If the had to be there sometime, living in flop houses like Schumer could be an option. Most of the scars are gone, but in the 90’s, it looked like some one set off a neutron bomb. If federal jobs moved out, housing prices go kaboom.

        The Maryland side effects things is way nicer. People would move there, keeping prices stable.

        1. Skunk

          So if you buy a house in a COLA area and then work remotely from home, do you get more than the normal pay?

  5. zagonostra

    >Meet the Censored: Paul Jay Matt Taibbi.

    There’s a need to keep up a kind of facade of democracy…this democracy (sic) really allows dissenting voices. As long as they’re marginal, okay. So the more the big tech companies control this score, the better they can make sure that stuff stays marginal.

    Seems to me the article cautiously tiptoes around the issue. It does not drill down to the incestuous relationship between the ruling elites and the corporate state that allows the ruling ideas to be maintained. Technology and big data have created tools that Joseph Goebbels could only have dreamed of.

    1. Anonymous2

      I have talked to my doctor about this medication. His practice are prescribing it for some of their patients but believe its efficacy may depend on the variant of the virus responsible for the illness so an obvious question for the authors of this study would be ‘which variant of the virus were you treating against?’.

      This is a moving picture. If the virus would stop mutating it would be so much easier to deal with.

    2. Pat

      I would expect no less from a study funded by The Gates Foundation and other technology philanthropists.

      Especially since this is from a press conference for a study that has not been peer reviewed.

        1. poopinator

          Doesn’t sound like it was peer reviewed either. I’m sure the LA Times made sure that fact stood out front and center ;)

    3. ProudWappie

      This was research sponsored by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was doing its best to make sure that Ivermectin wouldn’t work. Designed to fail so it seems. Some critical notes can be found here:
      remarks on trial

    4. poopinator

      I haven’t reviewed the article yet, but from what I’ve read in the complaints to the study so far It doesn’t appear that they followed FLCCC protocols. Delayed application, improper ingestion of IVM and reduced dosage (3 days instead of 5). Can’t confirm any of this personally yet, but if true, it sounds like they wanted to cripple the study from the start. Hopefully IM Doc and others can chime in.

    5. S.D. M.D.

      Ivermectin is either effective or not.

      The reporting of the study featuring a photo of President Trump (wearing a mask incorrectly) signals to all the reporter’s bias and determination to politicize and thereby clouds the issue and undermines the credibility of the study described no matter it’s quality.

      The limited details presented of the study in question make it difficult to assess, (and truly the devil is in the details) but the initial study plan to test giving just one single dose of ivermectin strongly suggests a design done in bad faith and intended to produce a headline result showing no effect.

    6. H1C

      It sounds like the study design had multiple issues, in particular treatment delay, administering the med on an empty stomach, being conducted in a population with high background IVM use, etc. And it seems like the LA Times article goes out of its way to misconstrue what the study found.

      Personally I don’t trust anything Covid treatment-related coming out of McMaster. They have grotesque conflicts of interest as noted above, and were centrally involved in the deliberately flawed WHO recommendation against IVM for Covid.

      1. wilroncanada

        It came from Canada!? You can’t trust those Canadians, especially from McMaster. Bribe a Canadian–save 20 percent. Old Hamilton joke: my parents are in the iron and steel business, my mother irons and my father ste-ls.

    7. Ian Perkins

      Fenofibrate, which is cheap and widely available, has shown some promise in lab studies:

      However, this doesn’t mean it’ll be that much use in practice:
      ‘“Patients in phases i and ii above [relatively mild or no symptoms] will not be admitted to hospital as a result of their Covid infection; yet it is only in these phases of the illness that drugs that can prevent or reduce cellular invasion by the SARS-CoV-2 virus will have any benefit.

      “It therefore seems extremely unlikely that Fenofibrate will be of value in treating patients once they are ill enough to be admitted to hospital.’

    8. Lambert Strether

      > Apparently Ivermectin is useless.

      We will have to assess the study when it actually comes out. Right now, all we have is reporting on a presentation, which is similar to the press release Fauci ramped remdesivir on.

      1. jr

        Agreed, I honestly got so bummed when I read the first few lines I didn’t look at it very clearly at all. I appreciate the clarifying discussion.

  6. Wukchumni

    Highest recorded temperature of 48.8C in Europe apparently logged in Sicily Guardian (Kevin W)
    Heatwaves are like hurricanes in that you get a good amount of time before they arrive to make plan B to vamoose, and might that be the new normal?

    During the last heatwave here lasting 4 days @ around 110 (which is nothing compared to what could be coming down the pike, maybe 130?) it was 69 degrees in Avila Beach on the coast a few hundred miles away.

    Hurricanes rarely stay all that long when they enter without knocking, and a fiery fortnight of high heat seems implausible but possible in this best of all worlds, starring us.


    1. The Rev Kev

      Well the article did say that he was ‘specializing in criminal justice, cults and deviant behavior.’ Maybe he was doing some field work.

    2. Wukchumni

      Sometimes the arsonist is an arson investigator…

      John Leonard Orr (born April 26, 1949) is an American former firefighter, novelist, and convicted arsonist and murderer. Orr was the fire captain and arson investigator for the Glendale Fire Department in Southern California. He was convicted of serial arson and four counts of murder. In the 1980s and 1990s, Los Angeles was plagued by a series of fires that cost millions of dollars in damages and claimed four lives. Orr was found to be the cause of most of those fires.

      1. Maritimer

        MA Firefighters Set Fires to prevent layoffs!

        From the Great State that brought you Whitey Bulger:

        “BOSTON (AP) _ A veteran city firefighter, convicted of conspiring with seven other ″sparkies″ to set 219 blazes during a 14-month arson spree, was sentenced Thursday to six years in federal prison.

        With the sentencing of 44-year-old Ray J. Norton Jr., federal prosecutors closed the books on what Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Robinson once described as a ″massive conspiracy to burn down the city of Boston.″

        The arson ring was blamed for setting some 260 fires in eastern Massachusetts between 1982 and 1984. The blazes, mostly in metal trash bins and vacant buildings, injured more than 300 people and destroyed $22 million in property.
        Officials said members of the group, who often cheered as they watched buildings burn, were motivated by a mistaken belief that the fires would force local governments to hire more firefighters after widespread layoffs in the early 1980s. ”

        Eat your heart out, CA!

        1. wilroncanada

          We had one of those 20 odd years ago in Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley where we lived at the time. In that case it was an individual “volunteer” fireman who wanted desperately to be a hero.

  7. Chibboleth

    If you actually think WordPerfect is peak word processing, allow me to introduce you to Sublime Text ( Very popular with coders because it has useful features for that but really just a very good general-purpose text editor.

  8. The Rev Kev

    ‘Jodi McKay
    Brad Hazzard indicated today that NSW may have a shortage of face masks. So we asked him about it in Question Time on your behalf. His rude response was unfitting of the Minister in charge of our pandemic response.’

    Not surprised about Brad Hazzard doing crap like this at all. The other day I left a comment how he gave a press briefing that proved disastrous in that he rabbited on for ten minutes about virus statistics & the like and then mentioned in passing that five people were dead. He is the NSW Health Minister so to a large part, the current s*** show with the Delta strain spreading throughout that State can be laid at his door. I took satisfaction in seeing several cases show up in Canberra from NSW, the capitol of Oz. You had Parliamentarians running out the Parliament Building on this news to get on the first plane or car or whatever to get out of this city-state as they last thing they wanted to risk was being locked down in that joint for the next several weeks.

    1. Wukchumni

      The rebukes of Hazzard were something else, say what if we mated up some cooter conservative from the lower right hand pocket in the country with his brand of denial, now that’d be one hell of a spectacle.

  9. griffen

    Underwater robots to inform the US Navy. I’m disappointed, the article makes zero reference to any James Cameron being involved /sarc

    1. ambrit

      Finding Robert Ballard to be involved would not surprise me. His ‘day job’ for most of his career was in Naval Intelligence, which ran the Navy’s “experimental” underwater craft.
      Ballard, (the “official” version):
      The “Real” Ballard:
      Discard 75% of what you read on the “official” media as junk and strongly distrust the rest.

  10. cocomaan

    Regarding relative mask effectiveness:

    Last year during the height of the pandemic, after masks began to be recommended, my wife questioned the efficacy of cloth masks at a large staff meeting on zoom (think hundreds of people).

    One of the head honchos at the org (not a doctor) stated that all masks were equally effective. When pressed, the head honcho got angry at my wife for asking repeated questions of the efficacy of an n95 vs a bandana.

    “Any mask” contention has probably caused a lot of infections. Why aren’t people getting N95’s in the mail? Or at home testing kits, which are about 20 bucks at Walmart now?

    How many bajillions of dollars have been spent on stimulus for “programs” that have no efficacy whatsoever?

    1. Wukchumni

      I had a stash or around a dozen real N95’s out of a 30 pack i’d bought about 5 years ago, and had used the others when weed whacking, in warding off unwanted debris up in the nose, etc.

      In our ongoing bought with Covid, couldn’t help but notice I was usually the only one wearing an N95 when shopping, as the 2 rubber bands go behind your head. Everybody else was wearing a behind the ears model.

      1. Cocomaan

        Yep my experience too. Thanks to zero hedge and naked capitalism clanging the alarm I bought out the supply of n95s (the ventilator kind) at my local Lowe’s in late January of 2020. I have rarely seen anyone else with one even though it’s the best standard of mask wearing outside of huge respirator units that are impractical.

        I can’t believe how dumb the response to covid has been. Here we are a year and a half in and finally someone admits masks are not all created equal.

          1. skippy

            Its simple to affix appropriate grade filter material on the exhalation valves on ***full*** seal masks, as I’ve done with my Sundström mask for work and contra to cocomaans views there are small full seal masks that are not huge or cumbersome and cheaper in the long run than disposable masks w/ a side of being manifold more functional eg. you have a full seal or you don’t.

            I’ve worn these things for decades for days and weeks at a time doing physical work without any issues, hence the mask topic has more to do with being a ideological/political plaything than an informed discussion on the topic.

    2. K.k

      Im still amazed that masks have become another battle in the culture wars.
      Thanks to NC for the link to the badger seal. I purchased a couple last year when they were initially linked. They create a very tight seal. Definitely time to break them out again.

    3. Brooklin Bridge

      The n95s by themselves are only as good as the seal. Fit the mask as best you can, put on a pair of glasses and breath out. And if air goes out (glasses fog), it will probably come in. In my case at least, the glasses always fog meaning the protection I provide to others as well as myself is compromised.

      I’ve ordered some of the mask fitters (many thanks to Yves for the link) and hope they help. In the mean time, I’m fiddling around with coat hangers and string to see if I can improve on my current fit.

      1. jr

        For what it’s worth, I try to “focus” my breathing inside my mask, drawing into my mouth and exhaling in as controlled a manner that I can to avoid breaking the seal. It’s literally using breathing exercises like you would find in yoga. It can’t hurt!

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Thanks also,

          I’ve tried this to some degree (never been trained) and it helps, but most of my exposure is in super markets where i get progressively distracted to the point I forget all about my breathing.

        2. skippy

          Yes its a bit like SCUBA where one has to learn to breath properly, thus like anything has a learning curve and once obtained is both physically and mentally beneficial outside its specific application.

      2. HotFlash

        I’ve had good results folding a bandana into a triangle and putting it on over my mask. I hike the middle of the top edge up under my glasses nosepiece, roll/fold the edges on either side and tuck them under my mask. I tie a knot at the back (hook it over my hair clasp) Most times when going out it’s on my bike, so I secure the bandana sides and bottom corner with my helmet chin strap. No fog! But often a soggy mask.

        1. Brooklin Bridge

          Thanks, I’ll give it a try.

          In the meantime, I’ve succeeded somewhat with a section of a coat hanger but my design is far from perfect and I suspect will ruin the mask after a certain number of wears. Moreover, without testing, I have no way of knowing for sure if I didn’t solve one problem (fogging) by opening up another.

        2. Mantid

          Respirator folks. Last so much longer than any mask, no fogging issues, great facial seal, and I’ve got one that’s pink, my wife’s is blue. Real men wear pink, though my favorite color is plaid.

          An added bonus is that you can have a heated debate with an anti-masker, and they can’t hear your expletive deleteds.

      3. Yves Smith Post author

        The badger seal site says they are more effective with procedure masks than N95s. That was true in my test. No glasses fogging with procedure mask, yes with KN95. Fabric apparently too stiff for badger seal to push it close enough to face to cut off leaks.

    4. Mikel

      Upon hearing of a poetential return to the office in October, a friend actually checked the price of gas masks.
      I said, “Wow, that’s showing them how you really feel…”

    5. John k

      I read that nose is loaded with cells with ACE2 receptors, throat not so much. When I’m around others I breathe in and out of my mouth, hope it helps. I’ve been using standard masks, but thinking of going back to n95…

      1. Raymond Sim

        Throat not so much, but further down the respiratory tract there’s lots again.

        I’ve done the mouth breathing thing myself. More like partial mouth breathing I guess, to the extent necessary to keep my glasses from fogging and keep the air stream passing through, rather than around, the mask. But never anywhere I was concerned I might incur a large dose of viral particles, because just about the last thing anybody needs is SARS-CoV-2 setting up shop down in their lungs. Now that “thousandfold” Delta is with us I won’t be doing it anymore at all if I can help it.

  11. Wukchumni

    Notes from the overground:

    Another dud on seeing shooting stars from the much anticipated and often underwhelming Perseid meteor shower in the wee hours, the highlight being a passel of coyotes in the distance yelping sometimes in unison.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “People Are Shaming Their Dogs, And Here Are 43 Of The Worst Good Boys Ever”

    About ‘#6 Get An Australian Cattle Dog, It’ll Be Fun They Said’

    You had to laugh. Australian cattle Dogs are very much ‘high-energy’ dogs as well as tough-

    As for ‘#23 I’m Not Going To Name Names But Someone Didn’t Like Being Left In The Bedroom For A Couple Hours’

    Yeah, about that. We have a dog that is cross Maltese-Shih Tzu and it did the same to our bathroom door when we left it locked up one night. Don’t ask me how as it only has a small mouth unlike the dog in that photo.

    1. Eustachedesaintpierre

      Very funny piece of brightness amongst the gloom.

      The old blind dog looks like an ancient version of our Shi-Tzu Molly who could keep me working full time, taking photos & writing placards detailing her many misdeeds, all of which she literally doesn’t give a family blog about. She is funny with it though, or at least I think so & I find it impossible to be strict with her assuming I can catch her that is. She also has a not at all secret weapon in that she has gorgeous eyes & looks like a cross between an ewok & a teddy bear which is a combo for which I have no defence & something that I’m sure that she is well aware of, that leavies me reduced to telling on her then wishing I hadn’t.

  13. chris

    Following up on my lung testing and breath training experiments with the Airofit. After one month of using the device for 2 minutes a day, I have seen improvement. I also feel a lot more like I remember pre-COVID. Not as tired all time, I breathe easier walking at a good pace, I have an easier time doing interval runs. I’m still working on improving my endurance for running but I’m confident enough in it coming back that I signed up to run a few 10k’s in October. I can recommend the Airofit if people are interested.

    Now, do I think something like this is necessary? No. I think with breathing exercises people could get the same kind of benefits. I like getting the data and I like the set of training programs they have to offer. I like the calibrated settings. But I’m not sure other people would think all that is worth $400. But I know there are similar products on the market that cost less. Or just breathing exercises that if you know about them are free.

    Hopefully others will chime in if they have recommendations for improving lung function post-COVID.

  14. Wukchumni

    I was fooled initially when what looked like Lassie was holding the paddle in a way more associated with Asian breeds, when I realized it was a Lhasa Apso in drag.

  15. Blue Duck

    The biden admin is going hard at gas prices. It’s no wonder. The 2007 spike in gas prices was the secret sauce that helped collapse the housing market which ended with the 2008 financial meltdown. If you take secular inflation and a global economy struggling with the delta variant, adding a spike in fuel prices is going to dramatically impact both, and lead to the dreaded stagflation. Let’s see them volker shock their way out of that.

    1. djrichard

      I thought I saw a headline that gas prices were diverging from oil prices. But when I look at this graph I don’t see that

      Back in 2007, dollar was getting weaker compared to other currencies. That likely was a result of the housing bubble – more inflation of the currency makes the dollar weaker (compared to other currencies that aren’t inflating as much). A weaker dollar means oil can command more dollars. . Some may remember after the bubble burst when the Fed Reserve jawboned the dollar even weaker (compared to whatever actions were being taken by other central banks). The price of oil/gas went insane.

      1. djrichard

        OK, looking at that macrotrends graph again I do see a slight divergence between oil and gas price starting in August. I think the headline was suggesting that that wasn’t normal. But when you look at other divergences in the history of the graph, it looks to be par.

        Anyways, the Biden admin is not going to find the scapegoat they’re hoping to find.

        1. Jen

          There’s nothing on the graph to describe what the price of gas is meant to represent. Anyone here paying $2:20 per gallon at the pump?

          Anecdata – there are usually spots in my state where gas is significantly cheaper than in my area – like 20 cents per gallon cheaper. Even the relatively thriving metropolis surrounding our “small liberal arts college” was 5 cents cheaper than the pumps up here in the sticks.

          No more. They’re all almost exactly the same. Maybe a penny different.


    2. Kurtismayfield

      They will drop interest rates to zero before they let this housing market drop. The top 10, the government, most middle class voters hold too many cards and too much interest in keeping the housing market frothing

      1. Mikel

        I was thinking about the companies that wanted to cut pay for remote workers who moved to lower cost areas.
        While there has been some talk about the tax implications for out of state and out of country workers, I wondered how much of it is nerves about all that home selling driving down the price of homes in expensive areas.

  16. Michael

    I have to second Paradn regarding the Black Plague, and add one more thing:

    The “Protestant Work Ethic” remains the (so-far) eternal child of the push-back to empowered labor in the aftermath of the plague years; the idea that work in and of itself was a good and moral pursuit – especially for those with too much time on their hands. Hands that were better put to use in enriching someone else, at a minimal cost to the owner of such labor, of course.

    Another less obvious consequence of PWE: it became part of the guiding ideology that created not only the conditions for slavery in the Anglo-Americas, but really necesitated its creation.

    Not directly, mind you, but through the failure of collective elite imagination to consider any other way to order a society other than through docile obedience in service to a newly formed and viciously competitive, but incredibly coherent, elite class. The English laborer, set in an environment where the power of compelling force to induce compliance was notably weaker, failed (in this and many other regards) to live up to elite expectations. Someone would have to take their place…

    I would never underestimate the ability of the lazy and entitled to find some way of neutering labor power for their benefit, short of circumstances leading to a total social collapse.

    1. Kyle E.

      Thanks Michael for pointing out another negative consequence of the Protestant Reformation. By throwing out Tradition in general, the so-called Reformation threw out centuries if not millenia of stable community labor practices.

      1. Michael

        I would view Protestantism as another consequence of the plague – a real “where is your god now?” moment that encouraged Europeans to question the utility of the Church in Rome as the mediator between humanity and God.

        I also venture to guess though, given how interconnected everything in and outside Europe was on Europe’s development in the Middle Ages, that changing relations in labor and religion indeed have a strong correlation Kyle.

        That is definitely something worth looking into further, given (afaik) they are usually treated as disperate developments.

        1. Eustachedesaintpierre

          I think it’s also partly due to the difference between Southern & Northern Europeans which can still be seen today, but was much more pronounced back then. Spreads being a good illustration of this – butter versus olive oil. Southerners it was said could smell a Northerner from yards away due to what they described as the rank smell of dairy.

          I think the weather also has something to do with it as the more North you can get the bleaker becomes the religion, with the Irish sort of bucking the trend, although their Catholicism is a far cold cry from the sumptuous operatic version of the Med.

          If I had to have a religion it would be Catholicism as it puts on the best shows on the best sets with largely the best holy music.

    2. djrichard

      From the original commenting, “On the other side of the ledger, corporate profit share of GDP has been insanely high for over a decade.”

      I assume that’s just a consequence of deficit spending. If the Fed Gov had no defict spending, it would have balanced trade with the economy, forcing the capitalists to have more balanced trade with labor/non-labor. All profits would have to come from private debt creation. Or vice versa, when the Fed Gov engages in deficit spending, this “surplus” to the economy goes to the capitalists, as profits.

      Capitalists will still be making profits when they reach their perfected state of no more employees. As long as there is deficit spending by the Fed Gov.

          1. AndrewJ

            “…forcing the capitalists to have more balanced trade with labor/non-labor” – the capitalists are the ones choosing to extract maximum, unsustainable profits from labor and rents, thereby diminishing the private wealth pool. As that diminishes, they turn to the federal government and “require” it to deficit spend to keep up their profits. They have the class power to order the feds around. I don’t believe the federal government we have has the capability to turn off the tap.

            1. djrichard

              Good point. I’m assuming we’re both arguing from the perspective of something like the Kalecki Levy profit equation , so that when you say diminishing the private wealth pool that that’s what you’re coming from.

              And that profit equation would allow for your diagnosis. I would maybe put it differently, companies require the Fed Gov to lower taxes so that their profits increase. And the byproduct of that is increased deficits.

              I don’t know if companies are enamored with increased Fed Gov spending enabled by defict spending. I suspect the vast majority fall into the camp of defict bad. Fed Gov crowding out private sector, yada yada. That said, there are certainly companies on the Fed Gov teat. And then there are the companies that understand how the economics truly work and that that Fed Gov spending ends up in their cash flows. Walmart for example.

              That said, deficit spending by the Fed Gov also has another effect: it recycles the surplus of the Capitalists back into the economy. If the Fed Gov didn’t engage in deficit spending, that would force the capitalists (banks primarily) to recycle their surplus back into the economy as new investments. This would have the knock on effect of employing people. It’s either that or the banks simply sit on the currency surplus and siphon more and more of it out of the economy, but that would result in a shrinking economy.

  17. bob

    How do you know that Cuomo is media aristocracy? Headlines like this-

    “Alec Baldwin blames cancel culture for Cuomo resignation: ‘This is a tragic day’”

    “Gov. Cuomo filled leadership gap in fight against Covid-19”

    1. Wukchumni

      Quid pro Cuomo, but of course. The Donkey Show is all show & no go, merely different associates of charade leading the circus encircled by elephants who do whatever they want as is their wont.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “China cracks down on post-work drinking and ‘harmful karaoke’ ”

    If China looks at other nations and tries to cut down these bad trends at home, then in their own ham-fisted way this might be a good thing. But Japanese business entertainment was estimated at 1% of GD? I knew that it was a cultural thing that workers had to go out with their fellow workers for hours instead of going home to relax and have family time but at 1%, that total effect must have been enormous in scope.

    I wonder what would happen if China took a look at the tech-bro culture in Silicon valley, noted how it decreased productivity & quality, and then cracked down in China on any local tech-bro culture arising. How would the Financial Times handle such a development? Would Silicon valley launch a ‘#StandWithChineseTechBros’ movement?

    1. dftbs

      One of the curious things about how Americans form opinions on China, is the notion that our cultural perspective is the default one. There are nearly 4x as many citizens of the PRC than the US. If you were an extra-terrestrial observing humanity, you would think us the aberration and them the default. It’s amusing that the Chinese realize this and don’t care what we think; and it’s going to be real amusing watching us realize this over the next few months to years.

      1. ObjectiveFunction

        Point well taken, but I wouldn’t take that 4x ratio too far. Based on WB and Pew data (2018):
        – About 400m Chinese live on less than 4400 USD per year (PPP basis and per capita, not per household). Stable but not prosperous.
        – another 350m live on less than 12 USD per day. Not starving but not saving either.
        – Another 300m are under 5.50 per day (Third World tin shack impoverished, mainly remote rural areas where Westerners don’t tend to visit)

        There could be some swing in the above figures, but that leaves 350 – 400m Chinese leading what Westerners might recognize as a ‘middle class’ lifestyle (more European than American), with stable employment, personal assets and ‘sarariman’ karaoke obligation, or else the “996” treadmill for those striving to move up.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Apparently in the last couple of years its been carnage in the up market restaurant belts in China around the main government areas. The first stage in this campaign was banning the wining and dining of government employees – there was a huge industry based on supplying this ‘need’. Now its getting more widespread, which is certainly probably a good thing, if not for restaurant and other ‘service’ providers. Its probably excellent news too for women in those companies, as they find it harder to break into that drinking (and other things) culture that surrounds Chinese businesses.

      The interesting question though is whether it will change the culture, or if it will just go underground – there are plenty of alternatives in all Chinese cities for people who want things to be a little more discreet. Back when I used to do favours for my Chinese friends on specific legal matters I often found myself dragged into odd unmarked basements which would turn out to be hosting dozens of people eating, drinking and smoking. I was usually the only one desperately scanning for the fire exit in the event of an emergency (usually, there wasn’t one).

      1. newcatty

        Brings to mind the “speak easys” during the U.S. prohibition daze. Lots of “discreet” business went on in them. The Chinese could add some cool, blues and jazz musicians to add to the scene. Or whatever music that they like. Just not ” harmful” entertainment.

  19. Carolinian

    Re Taibbi/Paul Jay/Youtube–As someone who goes out of their way to avoid TV news here’s suggesting that it is less the ownership of the platform than the platform itself that is the problem. Youtube has its uses for tips on, say, car repair but I can see no particular advantage to watching talking heads conduct an interview as opposed to simply reading the transcript.

    Movie fans know that video and film are all about point of view and not just the chance but the necessity of creating a world defined by editing, camera placement, selective context. Therefore when someone else puts you inside their head it is by definition subjective rather than than some dependably objective account of events. Giving the public at large the opportunity to run their own evening news shows doesn’t necessarily enlarge our understanding of the world and perhaps Google should ban all such content and stick to the car tips–if they are going to get in the banning business. With Psaki saying that the Bidens are now suggesting things for Youtube and Facebook to block we are on a very slippery slope indeed.

    1. Soredemos

      I’ve been wondering if and when the issue of Paul Jay and his January 6 thesis would come up on NC. He’s fully jumped on the ‘there was an attempted coup’ bandwagon. Recently he was claiming the Washington Post reporting on the claims of General Milley proved Jay’s own reporting, but, er…it doesn’t. Not remotely. Aside from the fact that there’s a significant chance Milley is simply lying in an attempt to ingratiate himself with the current administration, all he actually says is that he was suspicious of the military appointments Trump was making, and voiced his concerns about a coup plot to some other people in the military. Big whoop

      I respect Paul Jay immensely. What happened with The Real News was tragic (I still follow them but haven’t watched a video of there’s in over a year. They’ve been completely defanged). But I think he’s committed himself to barking up the wrong tree on this one.

      1. Carolinian

        Well there was an impeachment after the raid. If the Dems had any real evidence I think it would have come out.

        Of course Trump and some of his supporters probably still think the election was a coup against him. The best solution is just to forget the whole thing. Even if Trump has some kind of case call it payback for the Repubs stealing 2000.

  20. zagonostra

    >L.A. moves toward requiring proof of COVID vaccine indoors at restaurants, bars, gyms, stores (via link from ZeroHedge)

    “But what is immoral is choosing not to get vaccinated….We need to stop fighting the science and start fighting the virus,” the councilman said.

    So far, 62% of L.A. County’s population is fully vaccinated, according to health department data.

    COVID-19 hospitalization numbers throughout L.A. County continue to climb, and health officials say it’s mostly unvaccinated people who are ending up seriously ill.

    So business owners will be giving up 38% of their potential customers. I thought that vaccinated people where the larger group getting ill, at least in Israel that is what is being reported, very confusing.

    It’s clear to me that having businesses separate their customers into vaccinated/unvaccinated is going to have huge ramifications. It’s one thing to submit to Masks, an injection that potentially may cause you harm is on a whole new order of threat to freedom.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      No, in Israel, one week of data suggests that infections are proportional between the vaxxed and unvaxxed, even stratified by age. So the vaccinated are the larger group testing positive by virtue of most of the population being vaccinated.

    2. vlade

      This is the problem with people not being able to do basic maths.

      Example (all numbers are invented, and have nothign to do with covid or real world rates):
      – 90% of population is vaccinated
      – “normal” infection rate 10%
      – vaccine sucess is 80%, i.e. infection rate in vaccinated are 2%

      That means the population infection rate is 2.8%, of which 1% are unvaccinated (10%*10%), and 1.8% are vaccinated (90% * 2%). Quelle horror! There’s more vaccinated infected than unvaccinated!


      1. Ian Perkins

        A fictitious example even the most innumerate might be able to grasp:
        100% are vaccinated, but the vaccines aren’t 100% effective – all cases are vaccinees.

  21. Wukchumni

    Everybody likes Katie Porter, she speaks truth to power-one of the few.

    That said, like many in Congress, about the only thing she’s able to accomplish on a bipartisan basis is the renaming of post offices, sadly similar to others who’ve done the same renaming efforts.

    Look at the list of cosponsors for this post office renaming in Irvine, Ca.

    They’d normally cast eye daggers towards one another, but there they are, Nunes next to Pelosi in agreement that this rates merit!

    H.R.1170 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 1 League in Irvine, California, as the “Tuskegee Airman Lieutenant Colonel Robert J. Friend Memorial Post Office Building”.

    1. lordkoos

      Black people make up 2% of the population in Irvine… the performative/woke bullshitski never ends.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “Apps Getting Worse”

    Got that right. Even when Win7 replaced WinXP, I noticed a loss of some functions for no good reason at all. But I am seeing a more recent example. Last week I got a new tablet and installed Firefox browser on it as it is easy to browse on. But here is the thing. On the older browser, at the top you can tap on things like refresh, go back. go forward, etc. All intuitive and one tap away from what you want to do. On the new tablet, they borked Firefox. Such functions have been hidden so to get to them, you have to do an additional tap to get to it. Why did they change it? Don’t know. Even some functions that usually sat at the bottom of the screen have been reduced. Why? Again, don’t know. I suspect that it was the same thing that turned Apples operating system into whatever the hell it is now. The principles of having a good interface are not new and are widely known – and are ignored. And I suspect that the software designers live in their own world and only test their bright ideas with other software designers where they work. We saw an example of their attitude when there was push back against Apple rummaging through all your images and these designers were calling such concerns as whinny.

    1. Jason Boxman

      Google is legendary for this; For example every update on Android they change the UI for the app store. Not that I use the app store for much, but it must change several times every single year! Apple Big Sur, which I finally upgraded to after a year, got rid of the ability to display % battery remaining, and that lone is annoying and there’s no sense to it at all. If it works, leave it alone! (Or remember MS Office when Microsoft introduced “the ribbon” nonsense, which is still used today, including on Windows 10, and still awful.)

      1. lordkoos

        That kind of thing seems to be endemic with software development, it’s the exact opposite of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. A pet peeve of mine is the updates to the ebay platform, which requires relearning how to navigate parts of the interface every year or so, which I find very irritating. There never seems to be any great practical advantage to the updates.

      2. hunkerdown

        And it’s like that all the way down the API stack. Any given static method available in an API today has about a 95% chance of being available in 10 years. When it goes, your old code stops working.

        But it’s less of a jobs program, I think, than an attempt to own network effects, be the ones enforcing new “features”, and maybe bill some hours for beer money.

  23. Wukchumni

    One thing in my newsfeed that keeps burgeoning is the widespread theft of catalytic converters, which I think is exacerbating the shortage and/or high price of rental cars, for it might take weeks or a month to get your car fixed, and there’s no way you’re driving it in the meantime.

    The tales of no are coming from every nook & cranny, coast to coast, and up over too

    1. Carolinian

      Wolfstreet says the rentals stopped buying cars last year (nobody was traveling/renting) and now they can’t get them because of the chip shortage. I’ve been ogling the service manual for my 2017 and it’s one big computer (actually about a half dozen microprocessors–at least). This works for me but not if I have to find some parts right now. Don’t think that’s likely thank, goodness.

      Wolf says the car rental companies are renting older cars until they can buy new fleets.

      1. chuck roast

        If you were to look at the precariate “fleet” chances are you will see a pretty low quality of machinery. This will not change in the future. However, as the vehicle fleet gets older it will necessarily get brainier. Getting out the Craftsman toll box may well not fix a problem that requires a new brain costing several hundred dollars. Soon owning a clunker may be beyond the means of the poorest.

        1. Carolinian

          My previous car held up for many years and the only things that didn’t wear out were the sensors and the control computer. It’s likely that shade tree mechanics will still be dealing with the usual things like water pumps and brake pads. In the 80s I owned a car that did all those computer chores with a carburetor and vacuum hoses–a nightmare to diagnose and fix. Bringing digital logic to cars has been a boon for amateurs IMO because the problems are a lot more obvious. They even output a code to tell you what they are. Plugging in a new module might cost more for the part but less for the labor and in many cases you can do it yourself.

          Of course if you live in the Northeast–road salt and bad winter weather–you might not agree. Corrosion and electronics more iffy.

    2. lordkoos

      Keep an eye on your Tacoma pickup, they are very easy to slide under to quickly remove the CC… my wife had one stolen from her Toyota while it was parked for the day in a ride-share lot next to a busy mall.

      1. Carolinian

        I’m guessing that it’s the older cars that are having their cat converters stolen. After all new cars don’t really need midnight auto parts replacements. They’re new.

    3. Geo

      Had mine stolen a few months back. Made my lil’ Prius sound like a hotrod on the drive to the repair shop. Mechanic told me they have a few cars a day needing a new CC due to theft.

      Definitely a real problem for certain types of cars.

  24. George Phillies

    “All roads lead to the Battle for Kabul ” — report badly dated already, the Taliban having taken ten capitals already. The US Military Leadership’s ‘we control the population centers’ strategy betrays the total incompetence of our military leadership. This approach failed in Manchuria against Mao Tse-Tung (later 1940s); its errors are obvious.

    Also, anyone saying that there might be a civil war is out of touch with reality…there has been one ongoing there for some time now.

    1. Henry Moon Pie

      This is reminding me more and more of the chant heard at anti-war rallies 50 years ago:

      Quang Tri, An Loc,
      Take Saigon by 6 o’clock.

  25. jr

    When is sanity actually insanity?

    So I mentioned the other day that I was having a heckish time with my ID’s. In a display of existential absurdity, two of the three problems just went away with some minor online work and I’m set up to solve the third as far as I can tell. It’s like waking up and seeing that the Great Kahn has decamped from your city’s gates for some unknown reason. He is still in the neighborhood but I think he’s moving on.

    To be sure, there is still a huge rat’s nest of ID problems with my account(s) but despite that reality and all the grim warnings and confusion I may have untangled most of it. Apparently, none of it really mattered, at least for my particular problems. “Why it doesn’t matter.” is better than “Why it does matter.” but equally confusing and there is a one to one correspondence in terms of wasted time and frustration.

    But there was no way to know any of that until I spent around 3 days total in a hellscape of phone music, websites sending me back and forth between themselves, and robo-services that literally form a maze of choices that you must learn to navigate to save time. The canned “Common Questions” section have nothing to offer canned answers. I will say that every person I did speak to was wonderful, helpful to the best of their abilities, and equally confused by the situation.

    At least in the USSR, from what I’ve heard, when things didn’t work they just didn’t work. Here, things don’t work when they do work.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      in Texas, that’s called “2-1-1″…which is the state number for all the things you could ever want from the state of Texas…and which is just as you described…except for the part about nice people and helping to the best of their abilities.
      it’s byzantine, kafkaesque and with an unhealthy heaping of Lovecraft in there for good measure.
      i don’t know how state numbers for…say…oil well leases works…but all the poor people programs, you can expect to spend several days messing with it.
      and still not come away with anything nearing satisfaction.
      best guess it that it’s designed to make you give up, before the state has to spend any money on you.
      from foodstamps to teacher certification.
      I’d be interested to learn of a study showing how much jack this sort of thing actually “saves” the state.

  26. jr

    Re: badger seal

    I’m using one as well, although I still double mask in some situations. If you position the two masks properly, it is possible to avoid fogging but it is fidgety and shifts around. The badger is a lot easier. I can also easily wear a bandana over that and look cool without asphyxiating. But is just the standard procedure mask underneath sufficient for Delta and Friends?

    1. allan

      “But is just the standard procedure mask underneath sufficient for Delta and Friends?”

      In short, the answer seems to be no.
      Anything is better than nothing, and and double masking is even better,
      but for repeated exposures of long duration, high filtration is essential.
      Here is a long thread from an aerosol expert at UC San Diego on masks, ventilation and filtration.

  27. Lee

    “Oregon scraps requirement for high school students to prove proficiency in math, reading and writing Daily Mail”

    Perhaps this should have been filed under “Woke Watch”.

    “A spokesman for [Governor] Brown said the suspension will benefit ‘Oregon’s black, Latino, Latina, Latinx, Indigenous, Asian, Pacific Islander, Tribal, and students of color’

    Reading, writing, and arithmetic proficiency standards it seems are racist. Silly me, I always thought that underfunding public schools to the point that they couldn’t adequately teach these skills was racist and classist. How are they going to teach Critical Race Theory to kids who can’t read or understand the significance of statistical data? I suppose it could become an oral tradition. Or perhaps dumbing down a portion of the population serves the interests of the ascendant race-based misleadership class. Whatever happened to ?

    1. lordkoos

      If you’re a student in OR why even bother going to school in that case, what’s the point?

      1. hunkerdown

        Because truant officers are persuasive. I can’t think of another reason.

        (slaves don’t need to read, as long as they can do market exchange)

        1. newcatty

          Maybe they can use our current VP of the land, as an exemplary role model for dealing with truancy. Go after those irresponsible, negligent parents who just let the kids run wild. Was that not one of her successful accomplishments in the Golden State? It just coincidentally targeted lower-income to poor mothers, mostly of color.

      2. Mildred Montana

        Well, maybe having a Grade 12 diploma is going to become a requirement for collecting welfare and food stamps.

    2. Utah

      My problem is that they never mention what the current standards are. Just that they have to take a test to graduate. What if the standards are too high for high school? I think if we compare this to the fact that most growth in population from the last ten years has been in minority communities, there might be some merit to reviewing the test standard. Especially if they have had a large increase in English language learners. It can take seven years to learn English proficiently, longer if the kid comes to the US as a teenager, and longer if the kid has little to no schooling from their home country.

      My question is… What if paper tests are actually insufficient to figure out if a kid knows something? Maybe it’s not racism, maybe it’s that there are multiple ways of knowing and thinking through things. This is especially relevant to reading, less so for math. It’s hard to do math without paper and pencil.

    3. Milton

      and I used to think the home schoolers were the borderline nut jobs…

      I know there’s some legit concerns for addressing some of the more obvious racist tendencies in teaching Western culture but throwing Math and language in the mix has me a bit perplexed, to say the least.

    4. Geo

      “With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.”
      – Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451

      This book was required reading when I was a school kid in Oregon years ago. I wonder if it is even allowed at this point? If it is allowed, is it taught as a cautionary tale or as an instruction manual?

      1. Mildred Montana

        I remember reading in the Globe and Mail many years ago that in the late 1800’s the George Eliot novel ????? ?????? was taught in Grade 4!

      2. newcatty

        Talk about “short-sightedness “. It reminds me of some time ago when “conservatives” ( mostly Republicans) freaked out over spending any money on pre-k education. The “worst” example was that federal program called “Headstart”. It has proved to be a true head start for low-income ( including many children of color and other ethnic groups). So, instead of fixing the poor quality of many public elementary schools ( all grades, but elementary schools are where its at for learning basic reading, writing and math proficiency) lets just close our eyes and the “problem” of so many children just being passed through the institutions does not matter. As far as many children having the distinct circumstances of being ESL learners, address that where ever the child is in their circumstances. Wait! That means actually spending resources and money on public education. Public! The dispicable push for charter schools is not a solution. We have private schools already for the ones who desire them.

        Teacher shortages almost everywhere. Teachers quiting, retiring early or just not even starting a first day. Teachers, for a long time before Covid, were poorly paid, burning out with big teaching loads (class sizes of numbers of students), more draconian top down administrations. Then, a major backlash from stress of many parents’ precarious lives. Now, with the requirements for vaccination, the chaos of the changing goal posts for to mask, or not to mask, online or only in person school. When we’re losing Oregon…

    5. Mark Sanders

      I think that high school diplomas are generally insignificant either way, whether you get one or you don’t. I can’t think of any employer wanting proof of a high school diploma, and there are plenty of instances of people who did very well with their lives without one. The real problem is education. A person with or without a diploma can be ignorant and stupid, or he could be very smart and knowledgeable. Of course, if you want to go on to college, a high school diploma would be important, but I actually know someone who got a bachelor’s and a master’s degree without one. I guess the college never asked for proof.

  28. Amfortas the hippie

    have y’all seen this?

    sadly, Texas is filled to bursting with such people…and where i live, the only thing keeping that sort of behavior in check is our long-term community standards, enforced by shaming, showing one’s back/shunning and the Rumor Mill.
    pathetic, that this is what the gop has to run on…and that without blind outrage and spittle flying, they’d have no voters at all.
    of course, my local PTB have so far kowtowed to the yellers, and made everything voluntary, re pandemic…because none of them want a herd of spittle flinging morons thronging their offices.
    stupid, stupid, stupid.
    my personal struggle against misanthropy encounters yet another major setback.

    1. Geo

      Often at the end of the day as I read Water Cooler I get to listen to the Fox News prime time fear mongers rant and rave from my hard-of-hearing neighbor’s window. It feels like I’m absorbing news from two different dimensions with the only commonality being the names of elected reps and celebs. The what/where/when/why are completely unrelated.

      How we will ever find common cause on anything again is beyond my comprehension.

  29. Jason Boxman

    I’m glad to see someone else flagged that NY Times article from yesterday about it being awesome to contract COVID if you’re vaccinated. What nonsense that was to read, and deadly dangerous. And this is the “paper of record”; that’s some record ya got there.

    1. hunkerdown

      I get the sense that they’re trolling the deplorables (problem) to see if any of them will be witless enough to create a superspreader event (reaction) and rationalize another turn of the screw (solution).

  30. Ian Perkins

    Siberian wildfires dwarf all others on Earth combined

    Looks like they chucked out half a gigatonne of CO2 last year, and they’ve already surpassed that this year. This could become a self-sustaining thing: fires -> CO2-> worse droughts, drier conditions and higher temperatures -> more and bigger fires. Joining the Amazon as a carbon source rather than sink?

    1. Wukchumni

      I’d hate to be San Diego, last man charlie on a long distribution route on the Colorado River, I mean what could happen if somebody upriver decides to take their water, because they were thirsty.

  31. Icecube12

    ‘Health Ministry official: Most people will end up being infected with COVID’

    In Iceland, we are also being told essentially the same thing. In the meantime, the authorities here are going for booster shots, first for people who got Janssen/J&J, then for older/vulnerable populations, and then they will probably advocate it for the rest of us unless the tide/evidence against vaccines changes before then. They say we need to expect 70-80% of the population to get infected, and that we need to do it slowly enough to protect the health services at all times, which will necessitate trying to spread it out over the next two years, with relaxing and hardening restrictions as needed to slow the spread. The hope seems to be that the vaccines will ease the burden on the health services, as the vaccinated do seem less likely to get very sick and need hospitalization or the ICU. That being said, yesterday we were told that now 60% of the hospitalized had been vaccinated (86% of the adult population has been fully vaccinated, and there are as yet no kids in the hospital), and vaccinated people are also going to the ICU. I guess they are just trying to gauge now how restricted we need to be to have covid spread at an acceptable rate. And I guess as other variants come out they will reassess. Will all of us getting covid once actually get us to herd immunity though?

    Not sure how to feel about this. Definitely not good, but then what is with regard to covid. At least the authorities and public aren´t blaming and yelling about the ignorance and evilness of the unvaccinated (though the apparent plan still hinges on continued vaccine compliance). Maybe one of the advantages of high vaccine compliance is the ability to face the facts about the vaccine sooner.

    I was going to post more infection/hospitalization/vaccination numbers from Iceland as I did last week, but since we are a small population it is probably better to wait a bit to get a better picture of what is going on.

    1. Ian Perkins

      Will all of us getting covid once actually get us to herd immunity though?

      “We know very clearly with coronavirus that this current variant, the Delta variant, will still infect people who have been vaccinated, and that does mean that anyone who’s still unvaccinated, at some point, will meet the virus,” Pollard said.
      He said it was unlikely that herd immunity will ever be reached, saying the next variant of the novel coronavirus will be “perhaps even better at transmitting in vaccinated populations”.

      1. Lee

        Pretty much the same message from last week’s podcast This Week in Virology (TWIV). Covid will not only be with us forever but has spilled over into numerous other species including mustelids, rodents, cervids, felines, the list could go on. This will likely cause spillbacks and and contribute to the virus persisting among us humans indefinitely. Makes me wonder how long our current policy of providing disease specific free universal healthcare will also persist.

        1. Ian Perkins

          COVID-19 of the Future: Endemic and Mostly in Young Children?

          Researchers predict SARS-CoV-2 could become endemic and primarily infect children, thereby shifting risk from older people to toddlers too young to be previously exposed or vaccinated.

          If the predictions hold, most adults will be immune through vaccination or multiple exposures. The two circulating beta coronaviruses “cause a strong cold in children,” Bjornstad said. “We get exposed to the cold viruses many times during our lifetimes — and through re-exposure [infections] are more mild.

          “There is a lot of circulation — and a lot of circulation in children and young adults — that is really fueling the pandemic now,” Bjornstad said. The researchers believe that because COVID-19 severity is generally lower among children, the overall disease burden would also decline as SARS-CoV-2 becomes endemic.

          Based on A general model for the demographic signatures of the transition from pandemic emergence to endemicity

          Prevalence is predicted to surge during a virgin epidemic but then recede in a diminishing wave pattern as the spread of the infection unfolds over time toward the (probably seasonally varying) endemic equilibrium (Fig. 1, A and B). Depending on immunity and demography, the virgin epidemic RAS model predicts a notably different age structure than the eventual endemic situation (Fig. 1, C and D, and fig. S1). When considering overall disease burden in the population during a probable transition from emergence to endemicity, our model highlights the importance of three main axes of variability/uncertainty: immune duration, demography, and social mixing. Over the course of emergence, the shift in the age profile of risk of infection and disease is largely dependent on the extent of infection-blocking and disease-reducing immunity. During the transition to endemism in a scenario of long-lasting immunity (assumed permanent or 10 years), the young—who for SARS-CoV-2 suffer a mild burden of disease—is predicted to have the highest rates of infection once the disease dynamics moves toward the steady state

          1. Brian Beijer

            If the predictions hold, adults will be immune through vaccination or multiple exposures.

            I checked the date on this article because I suspected it must have been written in April or May. Nope. August 11th. How could someone write this about the vaccines after the overwhelming evidence showing that the vaccines do NOT provide immunity?

            Regarding the second article, this is the alternate scenerio presented if “immunity” is short lived (3 months-1 year):

            If immunity to reinfection is brief (assumed short-lived 3 months or 1 year), changes in disease severity due to previous exposure are the main driver of changes to age-structured risk and long-term burden of mortality. The possibility of rapid reinfection and severe outcomes on reinfection would heighten long-term circulation and continued high-risk infection among adults, although it could modulate the age profile of risk over time (Fig. 1C and fig. S1A).

            I would say that this is the more likely scenerio rather than Covid becoming a “ a strong cold in children.” It is still being optimistic because it doesn’t seem to take into account the vaccines’ lack of long term immunity increasing the virus’ virulence. Unless this is what the authors are implying when they write “severe outcomes on reinfection”. If that is the case, then they were being vague about it.

            1. Ian Perkins

              I guess by immunity Bjornstad means lower likelihood of severe illness, which does seem to be the case. “We get exposed to the cold viruses many times during our lifetimes — and through re-exposure [infections] are more mild” doesn’t sound like denying the possibility of re-infection or infection after vaccination.
              Bjornstad said that endemic coronaviruses, in general, do not change over time as quickly as they can during an initial pandemic. They tend to be less deadly as well because of prior exposures.

          2. Skunk

            Usually when a serious infectious disease develops into a milder “childhood disease,” it is because of generational immunity. The measles would be an example. We know that in naive populations, measles could be quite deadly, but people of European descent who survived then passed on some immunity to their descendants. Since the pandemic, I have sometimes wondered if our “coronavirus cold” viruses are the legacy of more serious coronavirus infections that once struck our ancestors.

            In a given generation, coronaviruses are known for relatively fleeting immunity. It’s possible that their model could hold up, but I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. For example, recall our discussions on NC about non-sterilizing vaccines potentially driving the development of more virulent strains. There isn’t enough information yet to make good predictions for what will happen.

      2. Raymond Sim

        No. And no offense, but any discussion of the virus becoming endemic which doesn’t discuss scenarios involving much greater mass death and disability than we’ve already seen should be labeled misinformation, as it ignores what is already known about the nature of the virus.

        Additionally, without a reliable estimate for overall prevalence of the disease the discussion becomes pure specualtion, and as I’ve been pointing out for months, we don’t have that,

        If overall incidence is higher than acknowledged (This used to be the position taken by the “It’s not a big deal.” crowd.) that’s bad news for anyone hoping to see relatively benign endemicity any time soon.

        1. Ian Perkins

          “With COVID-19, vaccines still fulfill their primary role: protecting against severe disease. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vaccinated people who catch the Delta variant are 25 times less likely to have a severe case or die. The overwhelming majority who do catch it will have mild or no symptoms” sounds like an acknowledgement of the possibility of greater mass deaths if we don’t vaccinate, rather than ignoring what is already known about the nature of the virus.

          1. Raymond Sim

            “sounds like an acknowledgement of the possibility of greater mass deaths if we don’t vaccinate, rather than ignoring what is already known about the nature of the virus.”

            The tacit assumption that vaccines have the capacity to render the virus relatively benign is unevidenced. People making these arguments rely on hand-waving to dismiss the large amount of evidence suggesting it’s unlikely to work this way. Assuming someone else brings it up, that is.

    2. Pelham

      It sounds as if authorities in Iceland are trying to tell the truth and lay out some harsh realities. Good for them. Please keep posting comments so we in the benighted United States don’t have to depend on our scatterbrained pack of ethically and morally compromised leaders.

    3. Brian Beijer

      Thank you for the frequent updates from Iceland. Do you know if the Health Ministry will be doing follow-up studies of those who get the booster shots? It would be interesting to see data about the efficacy and duration of these boosters outside of the Pfizer and Moderna studies.

      1. Icecube12

        I am not sure if there will be studies on booster shots or even on the effectiveness within Iceland of the current shots. I assume there will be though as they certainly have a good pool of data. Or at least I hope we get more info than what trickles in day by day in the local press with each new development.

  32. thump

    re: the Gurdasani tweet

    Zeynep Tufekci commented that:
    “Not one of those statements is backed by credible data (the breakthrough rates are much lower in systematic studies), and there is credible data in the opposite direction.”

    Not sure whom to believe here. Gurdasani is a subject area expert, but Tufekci is typically very smart and thorough.

    1. Raymond Sim

      I’m familiar with both, if a snap decision is required, go with Gurdasani. She has more relevant expertise and imo, a better track record.

      My father was a sociology professor, and I’m pretty sure he’d be a big Tufekci fan, but he’d go with Deepti where her expertise counts.

      1. ChrisPacific

        She refers to the Israel study later in the thread, which I think is where #1 comes from (and it’s consistent with the findings as I recall). I’m not sure if Tufekci regards this as not credible or something. Point #3 seems to be from the leaked CDC data – I don’t think it’s proven (yet) but it’s certainly suggested as possible, and urgently in need of verification/quantification. On point #2 (long Covid common in breakthrough cases) I haven’t seen any clear evidence yet, either for or against, although I would love to see some as it’s obviously a point of great importance.

        Based on all of that I would say that the claim that none are backed by credible evidence is an overstatement. I would not declare either to be definitively right or wrong based on this exchange, but would like to see both support their position further (unfortunately it’s Twitter, which doesn’t lend itself to that kind of nuanced discussion).

  33. Jeremy Grimm

    > Why should we dance?
    “Do we keep dancing because to stop would mean the extinction of everything we value? Or do we dance because, despite loss, suffering, and uncertainty, there are still things to celebrate?”

    There is something haunting in these questions as Corona Delta begins its ascent while the world burns in Summer.

    1. JBird4049

      Shades of The Second Coming by Yeats.

      For me, I still have family, some of them children, and for them I will be damned before I just roll over and just die, which too many of our “betters” want to have happen.

      Anyways, there are still things worth doing for the joy of it.

  34. a fax machine

    The Union representing VTA workers claims VTA created a toxic, hostile workplace environment.

    I find this to be big news, because if (keyword, -if-) the allegations are true then it would turn the VTA shooting debate from gun control and to VTA management, which would reflect poorly on Mayor Liccardo. Of the VTA workers I personally know, they don’t have issues except that VTA is short-staffed. Right now they’ll hire almost anyone into their bus trainee program (which feeds into light rail, common across the region as similar air brake principles are employed).

  35. ProudWappie

    Someone pointed me to an old newspaper article from 1956, which notes that 50 degrees C was measured in Sicily:

    Link to old Dutch newspaper article

    So, the Guardian is not being honest. Climate change is a thing, but let’s stop with crying climate change all the time. We’ve seen this recently with the forest fires, as well as the flooding in Europe, which were both not unprecedented at all. Interestingly, the forest fires seem to have a different human element to them.

    If you want the average person to take it seriously, we should:
    – Stop using biomass, which is destroying forests, and only is used because of the stupid rules of the EU, which touts it as carbon neutral, which is nonsense.
    – Lead by example; the elite has a way larger carbon footprint compared to the average person. Also, the increased budget for private jets for the EU parliament, as well as the exception for increased taxes for private jets, really don’t come across as real attempts to reduce our carbon footprint. Do as I say, not as I do.
    – Also look at mitigation scenarios.
    – Stop using the most extreme scenario all the time; what if it doesn’t come to pass in say 10 years?
    – Have an honest debate about what works or not; nuclear should be an option. We’ve seen solar and wind energy have a less than stellar performance in Germany earlier this year.
    – Work bottom up, instead of top-down.

      1. IdahoSpud

        Not sure if there is any reliable precedent one way or the other. Any news of massive Siberian wildfires getting to the western media would have had to pass through Soviet censorship.

          1. IdahoSpud

            Satellite data gets us back to the 1970’s or so, but prior to that we would have to rely on Russia being willing to divulge something like that – which I would consider unlikely during the cold war. Just pointing out that there is no way to say yes or no to an equivalent size wildfire – not trying to minimize the catastrophe in any way. It’s bad.

            Historical footnote. There was a 3 million acre forest fire right here in 1910 Wiki “Great Fire of 1910”

            1. Ian Perkins

              On 31 July 2019, Russian authorities reported that 3 million hectares (7.4 million acres; 30,000 km2) were on fire, an area roughly the size of Belgium.

              For the third year in a row, residents of northeastern Siberia are reeling from the worst wildfires they can remember, and many are left feeling helpless, angry and alone.

              Last year, wildfires scorched more than 60,000 square miles [~40 million acres] of forest and tundra, an area the size of Florida. That is more than four times the area that burned in the United States during its devastating 2020 fire season. This year, more than 30,000 square miles have already burned in Russia, according to government statistics, with the region only two weeks into its peak fire season.

  36. Kevin Smith

    Just had my 4th COVID shot today [Moderna]. Already have Pfizer x 2, + JnJ [I’m collecting the whole set].

    Now I’m all ready to face Delta, Delta Plus & Epsilion. Should hold me for the next six months or so …

    1. hunkerdown

      Has your agent gotten AstraZeneca, the History Channel, the Travel Channel, all those little national champion pharmas in so-called sh-thole countries, Nintendo, WHO, CDC, and Morgan Spurlock on Zoom yet? Imagine the totally legitimate grift possibilities on travel alone. Have you gotten an agent yet?

  37. Raymond Sim

    “What precedent do you have in mind for the forest fires in Siberia?”

    The Younger-Dryas Event? Or were those fires only in North America? But it was still cold, and they had gigantic fires anyway. Shit happens amirite?

    1. Ian Perkins

      Coal-burning in Siberia after volcanic eruption led to climate change 250 million years ago

      A team of researchers led by Arizona State University (ASU) School of Earth and Space Exploration professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton has provided the first ever direct evidence that extensive coal burning in Siberia is a cause of the Permo-Triassic Extinction, the Earth’s most severe extinction event.

      Among the possible causes of this extinction event, and one of the most long-hypothesized, is that massive burning coal led to catastrophic global warming, which in turn was devastating to life. To search for evidence to support this hypothesis, Elkins-Tanton and her team began looking at the Siberian Traps region, where it was known that the magmas and lavas from volcanic events burned a combination of vegetation and coal.

  38. ChrisPacific

    Not only is China wary of following American bad practices, it’s vigilant about Japanese conduct too. Before its bubble busts, Japanese business entertainment was estimated at 1% of GDP.

    Will Ferguson in his book on hitchhiking in Japan (Hokkaido Highway Blues or Hitching Rides With Buddha, depending on the publication date) describes his ill-fated decision to be ‘adopted’ by a group of Japanese businessmen drinking after work. He thought it would help him to meet women or something (it didn’t). It was like something out of a nightmare. I hope he was exaggerating for dramatic effect.

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