Links 8/18/2021

Multiple supernovas may have implanted our solar system with the seeds of planets Space

US lab stands on threshold of key nuclear fusion goal BBC (DL).

Amazing 1,300-Year-Old Technology Found Hidden in Comox Harbour Comox Valley News. British Columbia.

Behind the Fight to Save the Gulf’s Spectacular Coral Reefs Texas Monthly

The Well Fixer’s Warning The Atlantic

An exclusive interview with auditing whistleblower Mauro Botta Francine McKenna, The Dig

#COVID19

Air travel debacles:

NSW loses control, recording 633 COVID cases MacroBusiness. Another debacle with air travel at the epicenter.

Covid 19 coronavirus community cases: New Zealand lockdown – four new Delta cases including Auckland Hospital nurse New Zealand Herald. “Genomic testings shows the original case is linked to the Delta outbreak in New South Wales.” Once again.

Florida couple busted in Hawaii with fake vaccine cards Boing Boing. And again.

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Why a fast-spreading coronavirus and a half-vaccinated public can be a recipe for disaster Los Angeles Times

The Coronavirus Is Here Forever. This Is How We Live With It. The Atlantic

COVID Delta Is Coming for Carbon County, Montana; + BRIEFLY NOTED: For 2021-08-15 Su Brad DeLong’s Grasping Reality

COVID Morgue Trucks Are Back Vice

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Association of Age and Pediatric Household Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 Infection JAMA Pediatrics. From the Discussion: “In this study of 6280 pediatric index cases, we observed that children aged 0 to 3 years had greater odds of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to household contacts compared with children aged 14 to 17 years. This association was observed irrespective of factors such as presence of symptoms, school/childcare reopening, or association with a school/childcare outbreak. … We found that asymptomatic status and testing delays had strong gradient effects on infectivity, similar to our previous study of household transmission.25 However, even after adjusting for the lower odds of asymptomatic transmission and testing delays in our study, children aged 0 to 3 years and 4 to 8 years remained associated with higher odds of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to household contacts than children aged 14 to 17 years. A possible explanation for this finding is that younger children are not able to self-isolate from their caregivers when they are sick, irrespective of the timing of testing.”

Relative Humidity Predicts Day-to-Day Variations in COVID-19 Cases in the City of Buenos Aires Environmental Science and Technology. From the Abstract: “We found that humidity plays a prominent role in modulating the variation of COVID-19 positive cases through a negative-slope linear relationship, with an optimal lag of 9 days between the meteorological observation and the positive case report. This relationship is specific to winter months, when relative humidity predicts up to half of the variance in positive case count. Our results provide a tool to anticipate possible local surges in COVID-19 cases after events of low humidity. More generally, they add to accumulating evidence pointing to dry air as a facilitator of COVID-19 transmission.”

Excess deaths reveal the true spatial, temporal and demographic impact of COVID-19 on mortality in Ecuador International Journal of Epidemiology. Conclusions: “Overall, the exceptionally high level of excess deaths in Ecuador highlights the enormous burden and heterogeneous impact of COVID-19 on mortality, especially in older age groups and Indigenous populations in Ecuador, which was not fully revealed by COVID-19 death counts. Together with the limited testing in Ecuador, our results suggest that the majority of the excess deaths were likely to be undocumented COVID-19 deaths.”

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The Newest Disease Detection Tool for Covid and Beyond: Poop KHN. It’s not new, and KHN should know that. NC has been linking approvingly to SARS-CoV-2 detection in wastewater since at least May of 2020. If we had a functional public health establishment — or a functioning government — there would be a national program today; pilots at the very least. Something more than another CDC database. I mean, is this a pandemic, or what?

China?

China’s Xi calls for wealth redistribution and clampdown on high incomes FT. What’s gotten into Xi? Is he some sort of Communist?

The Leadership of Xi Jinping: A Dengist Perspective Journal of Contemporary China

Covid-19 drives ‘prevention over cure’ strategy; hinges on global cooperation South China Morning Post

China’s algal bloom suffocates marine life Science

Myanmar

The Tatmadaw Mekong Review. Looks like the techniques of ’30s Japanese fascists work pretty well at the regional level.

Super-Spreader Risk Forces World to Work With Myanmar’s Regime Bloomberg

Russia on Track to Deliver Fighter Jets to Myanmar – Reports Moscow Times. Food for Stingers….

Afghanistan

‘Real chance’ Afghanistan withdrawal ‘destroys’ Biden presidency: Ian Bremmer Yahoo. The Blob showing Biden who’s boss, exactly as they did with Trump (just more slowly this time):

DJ Voice: “Sending this one out to Joe in DC….”

Afghanistan Has a New Government: The country wonders what the new normal will look like Afghanistan Analysts Network.

“[I]t is becoming increasingly clear that the mass dissolution of the Afghan security forces and the surrender of provincial and military leadership was not just down to low morale, the lack of a clear strategy and or the absence of leadership, but the result of a sustained outreach campaign by the Taleban. In some cases, deals will have been made beforehand, both locally (as was, for instance, the case in Daikundi) but probably also at a very high level.”

Well, if the Afghanistan warlords have turned themselves into statesmen that is, in its own way, encouraging.

Afghanistan: Country ’emancipated’ and ‘everyone is forgiven’ Taliban says in first news conference from Kabul Sky News

Departure of Private Contractors Was a Turning Point in Afghan Military’s Collapse Foreign Policy

What We Need To Learn: Lessons from Twenty Years of Afghanistan Reconstruction (PDF) Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction. Lesson #1: “The U.S. government continuously struggled to develop and implement a coherent strategy for what it hoped to achieve.” “What did we learn, Palmer?”

Biden is right to resist the Afghanistan backlash The Week

UK/EU

Labour isn’t working:

“Agile ceremonies”?

Macron eyes victory over Covid vaccine pass protesters FT

Mexico devises revolutionary method to reverse semiarid land degradation Monga Bay (GF). GF writes:

No doubt about the desert SW being dry and difficult to farm. This article examines the “crops” that can be grown without water, fertilizers or pesticides and with little human intervention in the SW USA. I thought of Amfortas when I read it because mesquite grows where he lives and I’m pretty sure agave would do OK there. The main area for introducing the two crops would be where the Colorado River water cut backs in AZ are taking place next year and eastward into southern NM and West Texas. It appears that agave and mesquite form a synergistic relationship when inter-cropped and the result is an amazingly healthy animal feed that horses, cows, goats and sheeps and others just can’t get enough of. And it only costs $0.02 per kilo (2.2 lbs) to grow and minimally process.

The Caribbean

Venezuela talks adjourn after ‘constructive’ weekend La Patilla

The Death Toll From Haiti’s Earthquake Rises By 500 To 1,941 BBC

Biden Administration

Congress’s Financial Conflicts Go Beyond Rand Paul’s Wife Bloomberg

GEO Group can’t shake claims over $1-a-day detainee pay Reuters

Imperial Collapse Watch

How Much is Experience Worth? Twenty Years of US Experiments in the Middle East Valdai Discussion Club

[T]he global wealth and influence of the United States was so great that it could simply afford a 20-year campaign with no practical value. With the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the American government has reached the conclusion that this state of affairs has come to an end. The painful experience gained in the Middle East is gradually being absorbed by the American elites, who have proved to be much more careful in the crisis in Syria than before in Libya. And in Libya they are now much more cautious than before in Iraq.

“Experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other.” –Benjamin Franklin

Make no mistake, the US military will continue to thrive after Afghanistan Responsible Statecraft (Re Silc). If “thrive” is the word we want.

Guillotine Watch

Heir: Sacklers won’t settle unless freed from opioid suits Associated Press

United in Rage Tarance Ray, The Baffler. Ray is one of the Trillbillies.

Class Warfare

Global Billionaires See $5.5 Trillion Pandemic Wealth Surge Institute for Policy Studies. Everything’s going according to plan!

Class conflict is back at the core of economics FT

When Your Boss Wants an AI Camera in Your Bedroom Cory Doctorow, OneZero

William Morris: The Poetics of Indigo Discharge Printing Nonsite.org

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.

203 comments

  1. ACF

    The finding that 0 to 3 year olds are much more likely to transmit Covid at home than 14-year-olds and up is not mysterious.

    I have two children and when they were 0 to 3 they were very often in my arms for for other reasons my face was very close to theirs.

    My 14-year-old daughter and I respect each other‘s personal space; The risk that I am breathing her exhalation is much much lower than when she was a baby/toddler/little kid.

    I do not imagine that I am within the bell curve on all things or even most things but I find it very plausible that this difference is normal.

    1. pebird

      Agile is a neoliberal approach to systems development, couched in a quasi-religious lexicon of rituals, ceremonies, stand up meetings, and other BS is the name of creating something “good enough”, the definition of which is typically provided by the company leadership.

      1. tegnost

        And here I was thinking “Git ‘er done” was a redneck aphorism
        Duct tape and baling wire ftw

        1. Howard Beale IV

          Ironically enough, the most dominant software version control system is called Git, written byt the funder of the Linux kernel, Linus Torvalds, as a solution of the problem of distributed software development, which has its own incantation rites done at the command line.

          Of course to do anything useful with Git, other tools have to be wrapped around it…

    2. vlade

      Agile has its place. But as usual, it has been coopted by the management consultants as the latest silver bullet, ignoring the pre-requisite and assumptions. Same way six-sigma, lean and what have you were before.

      Trying to do everything agile is like trying to build an mass army using the specops training manual.

      1. diptherio

        Yes, I know some tech worker co-ops who use Agile, or Agile-like systems for coordinating (at least some of) their work.

        1. Anders K

          Eh, as always, it depends. As vlade mentions above, Agile can have value, but is unlikely to bring any if it is implemented because its new or just showed up on the bingo cards that upper management uses when trying to look like they’re doing something (don’t worry, perennial favourites “outsourcing” and “organisational reworking” are still here to stay).

          The basic ideas of Agile, to leave the team alone for a time to actually make some progress, but not to the point of years/months on end that could be the case, is pretty good. Then again, Waterfall worked quite well as a basis for sending people to the moon (allegedly ;), so once again, different practices for different things.

          Agile tends to work pretty OK when you have an experienced team working with people who are not quite sure what they want – and hence need to see what the team produces every 2-3 weeks or so in order to realise what they really wanted.

          Then again, the main reason that Agile is a thing is that we are still making software the artisan way, each program being crafted bespoke for its patron. Imagine, if you will, a bridge being crafted by a number of willful primadonnas, which have been hired to build a counter water movement device, and everyone and their friends want to get the new shiny tool to build with that was just released.

          It can be fun, but you really have to grok the statistical fact of about 10% of software projects being delivered sort of on time, and many of the others just die on the vibe. It pays pretty well, though, and sometimes you get to work on things that actually improve things (I got to help people apply for covid relief this year).

      2. Howard Beale IV

        Agile works beautifully on 1980s-based software design patterns of that period (cough cough)….

    3. Zephyrum

      The enduring value of Agile lies in its sprints so that the development team can focus on accomplishing specific goals in a fixed amount of time. This reduces drift and allows for incremental, detailed planning. It also allows managers to track progress more accurately. Waterfall and “Big Bang” projects are rarely successful, in large part because months or years go by without any reliable progress monitoring.

      Of course anything can be taken too far, as shown in this remarkable Deloitte Agile Landscape graphic.

      1. Skip Intro

        Agile seems more like a way of eliminating architecture, documentation, and long-term planning and other artifacts, in favor or biweekly progress in mostly arbitrary directions. I think it helps boost the manager to developer ratio, and produces charts. Probably only works for web page development.

      2. Lambert Strether Post author

        > this remarkable Deloitte Agile Landscape graphic

        That Deloitte graphic is indeed amazing and I’m surprised Deloitte was able to create something so vicious.

        I especially like that the “Leadership” box (top right) isn’t connected to anything else….

  2. QuarterBack

    Curious. Why do more of the Afghanistan news headlines seem to focus on the numbers of Afghan citizens seeking to flee to the U.S. while ignoring the many thousands of U.S. citizens that are still stranded there? I’m not saying that the Afghans don’t matter, or that their suffering, fears, and motivations aren’t real, but shouldn’t the fact that we are abandoning our own be the bigger news story? Many of the news stories don’t mention (although many do too) U.S. citizen counts or their plights at all. Is it just me?

    1. Carla

      Seems to me, if our elites cared about Americans, they would have spent $2 trillion on creating a livable country for Americans right here. And it coulda worked, too. Think about $2 trillion sunk into housing, universal medical care, public education, nutritious food, even renewable energy over the last 20 years. Think about the millions upon millions of jobs that would have created.

      But no. Violence, chaos and destruction is their preference — here, there, and everywhere. Because, that gives them, uhm, what? … Status?

      I dunno, Obama, Bezos, Gates, Dimon, McConnell, Schumer and all you guys — you tell me, cause I just ain’t smart enough to figure it out.

      1. tegnost

        Yeah it’s the same reason bezos needs to go to space.
        He doesn’t want to share.
        It’s all just money laundering.
        What is the dow jones up to now, 36,000?

        1. jefemt

          I’d argue the gubmint has rolled out quite a lot of dough in the last two years, scattershot with the eye way off the barrel and off-target. So, folks will decry its ineffectiveness down the road.

          With cogent planning and some simple goals (green new deal, social justice) the last two years of spending might have been a great start.

          Instead, most pennies accrued right on up, within 6 weeks of distribution, not in a trickle, but a fire hose, to the wealthiest.

    2. AE90

      I wonder about the motivation behind headlines, and who the target audience is. My amygdala is so flogged to death that I can’t react any way but intellectually at this point. There are so many causes to support these days.

    3. cocomaan

      I’ve noticed that as well. My take is that it’s a general distaste for the imperial apparatus and those who fight and those who support those who fight.

      Sure, sure, there’s lots of Rah Rah For The Troops stuff in the foreground, but in the background, most people find the imperial missions and the folks involved with it unsettling and guilt-inducing.

      Whereas Washington DC spends a tremendous amount of time fretting about refugees and immigrants, who are seen as morally pure actors fleeing from dark foreign lands.

      In my view, the bourgeois types tend to support the Unknown Soldier more than they support the individuals in the mix of the military industrial complex and their particular circumstance. Hence why soldiers are treated like a dog’s breakfast on return from warzones. Hence why suicide is so high among veterans. Hence why the VA is riddled with problems administration after administration. And so on.

    4. Zamfir

      I don’t find that very curious? The US have effectively a cease-fire with the Taliban, even US soldiers are not at major risk as long as they do not engage the Taliban. The last US combat death in Afghanistan was early 2020, more than a year ago. No one doubts that the Americans will get out. It’s the fate of Afghani supporters of the US that is in severe doubt.

      1. QuarterBack

        I think we are pretty far from consensus on “ No one doubts that the Americans will get out”. The number of U.S. citizens is in the many thousands, and many are not in the vicinity of Kabul. The situation is much too volatile, and there are many factors outside the U.S. and Taliban control that could shift rapidly.

        1. Michael Ismoe

          “Think of the women” doesn’t seem to be working. It’s time to change tactics: “Think of the CIA poppy farmers!” How about “Save the Blackwater assassination teams”

          Why do we want these people back?

          1. QuarterBack

            It is a large presence. Beyond the mercenaries, mineral extraction workers, and opium field personnel, there are many U.S. and allies working for NGOs doing things like building roads, water and power systems, and schools. I’m sure there are many too that went there to teach in those schools. Do we lump everyone into the ‘assumed risk’ pile and write them off?

            1. AE90

              Do we lump everyone into the ‘assumed risk’ pile and write them off?

              That seems to me to be what they are doing in only pushing Pfizer and Moderna vaccines and open businesses, and pooh-poohing viable treatments they aren’t invested in. It’s a model.

        2. Wukchumni

          How would we react if the Taliban went all Daniel Pearl on the various Americans left in the ‘stanbox?

        3. lordkoos

          The Taliban say that they will give amnesty to Afghans who collaborated with US forces, but I haven’t heard anything regarding American citizens.

      2. Pelham

        How many Afghan “supporters” of the US presence were quietly feeding info to the Taliban? And how many of those will we be bringing into the US?

        1. Skip Intro

          And how will the Taliban run the country if all the ‘translators’ who know how to work a waterboard are all resettled in the US?

    5. Katniss Everdeen

      “…. the many thousands of U.S. citizens that are still stranded there?”

      I’d like to know who these people are, or if they even exist. This was written on July 6, a full 6 weeks ago:

      The US left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away in the night without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, Afghan military officials said.

      So, these “many thousands” of “u.s. citizens” thought there was nothing to see here and “life” would just go on as “normal”???? Something just doesn’t add up. Same goes for all the Afghans who collaborated with the u.s. military and were taken by “surprise” at the hasty exit and rushed the airport, by the way. To my mind, they could just as easily have been staging a good-riddance-of-bad-rubbish display.

      Gotta admit, the optics are compelling, particularly the supposed hanging on to the plane and falling to death from the sky. (I’m sure I’ve seen something like that in one of the disaster movies I watched recently.) But I’m old enough to remember when “hordes” of grateful Iraqis “toppled” the Saddam statue in Baghdad to welcome american invaders. Turns out it was staged to make cheney’s prediction of a welcome with cheers and flowers seem real, and the whole sorry exercise seem legit.

      After 20 years of bald-faced lies, americans are NOW so sure they’re being told the unvarnished “truth?” Color me skeptical. I’m feeling propagandized. Only time will tell by whom and for what, but the usual suspects are front and center as far as I’m concerned.

      1. montanamaven

        The clip of those people running along the cargo jet that they continuously showed has a guy in front waving and smiling to the camera. Hardly desperation. Very strange.

        1. Nikkikat

          I think it is more fake BS from the propaganda pushers. Katness and Montanamaven, I agree with you. I remember the stupid tapes they ran on MSM for the al Queda and Isis. The same footage for about 3 years. The first one with supposed al Queda training on monkey bars and the 3 Toyota trucks with the Isis flags. There never were huge armies of these people, just some militants that we were paying and supplying with weapons. The Bush admin had let Osama bin Ladin escape after the Taliban told them where he was located in Tora bora. This was never a war it was a regime change operation. The so called contractors have known for months that this was over. If they do exist, and I doubt it. They could have left in May. I don’t believe anything the government tells us and I think most people think like me. A great book is Murder Inc by Max Blumental,
          Gives the truth and the lies all the way back to Vietnam war.

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          I noticed that too.

          And those “desperate” Afghans in that clip–all young men. No wives, girl children, mothers or sisters. Where were they–left at home, abandoned to the taliban???

          We need more “immigrants” like that in this country like we need a hole in the head.

          1. K.k

            Thats often how it works. Men emigrate, find work, often hyper-exploited , send remittances back home. And eventually try to brings family members over. Also they are not living in small family units, households are very large with large extended families living together. So its not quite like the guy is abandoning his lady n kids to the taliban.

            Insurgency and counter insurgency is bloody business. No doubt there were countless interpreters. But i imagine many of the men that helped the u.s in the counterinsurgency did more than just translating. And as Yasha Levine pointed out recently some will be settled in the west and be useful “weaponized immigrants”.

        3. Duke of Prunes

          I noticed the same thing. The crowd didn’t seem as desperate as the narration described. Then again, maybe south asians express some emotions differently than westerners?

          1. Procopius

            @Duke of Prunes – People are people. There are no differences in the way they express emotion. Are you old enough to remember the picture of the little girl running naked from her village, which the U.S. Air Force had just bombed with napalm? You should be able to locate a copy. Look at the faces of the people in that picture and decide if they are expressing their emotions differently.

        4. Basil Pesto

          “but this one guy was smiling!! 🧐” has about as much dispositive persuasiveness of anything as that guy that brought a snowball into congress to disprove global warming

    6. NotTimothyGeithner

      If the US doesn’t relocate these people to McClean, what people will work for the US in the future? This is the chief concern of the FP and MSM elites.

      1. Polar Socialist

        Just today I noticed minor schadenfreude in Russian media regarding some concerned Ukrainians wondering if there’s a pattern for people who endure civil wars at US’s behest.

    7. Pat

      Some of it is expected effect on the American public. The scenes of terrified Arabs now coming to the US plays on every racist fear that has been nurtured in the American people for over two decades. We are no longer fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here, we are giving up and bringing them here where they will take jobs, marry our children, and bring the same kind of ideas that led to make their country/countries such hell holes. All because somebody said enough. Fear of/hatred of Arabs is deep and very easily manipulated.

      (I wouldn’t have thought that would be the result except for a couple of eavesdropped conversations from the bus and one very heated conversation with someone else. It isn’t about how badly we handled things it is about them.)

      1. marym

        Ethnically and linguistically Afghans aren’t Arabs. The people are mostly Indo-European, some Turkic. The official state languages are Indo-European.

        1. Pat

          So. That and the fact that there is no biological basis for “race” won’t even get you a cup of diner coffee.

          We aren’t talking facts here but feelings and the manipulation of those feelings. Manipulations that have been going on about Afghanistan for decades. For a whole lot of people, those are niceties they neither know or care about. I might wish that such cynical tactics were not effective, but from invading Iraq to “keep your hands off my Medicare” we have numerous examples that our bureaucracy does do propaganda well.

      2. Mikel

        It’s more like they WANT this to be bongled in every way poossible – like a brat who turns over the table after they lose a game of cards.
        It screams, “see what happens when we have to stop doing these degenerate occupations?”
        They are hoping something hapoens to the stranded Americans.

        I say let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks following these fools on their misadventures is a good idea.

        1. Pat

          Perhaps, but I do think they realized that the public largely wants out. It may be a tantrum, but I am not sure stranded Americans works as well in getting support for staying in the Middle East. And the Look what happens when we don’t listen to the experts position has also taken a lot of hits lately, but either way none of the mainstream media choices should be taken without a large grain of salt.

    8. Temporarily Sane

      Do you really think the US is going to strand American citizens in Afghanistan? Get real.

      On a slightly different note it’s interesting how, according to mainstream media, every Afghan who collaborated with the American/NATO occupation forces worked as an interpreter. Really? So none of these people were employed to do, um, less savory things?

  3. zagonostra

    >How Much is Experience Worth? Twenty Years of US Experiments in the Middle East – Valdai Discussion Club

    With the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, the American government has reached the conclusion that this state of affairs has come to an end. The painful experience gained in the Middle East is gradually being absorbed by the American elites..

    What I found interesting in the excerpt from the paragraph above is that the “American people” are absent. I am a spectator citizen. I preform my “democratic” ablution in the ceremonial voting booth with ritualistic regularity and somehow, some way, like the “butterfly effect” it is supposed to steer global international relations. Fantasy, pure fantasy.

    At least in ancient times, if James George Frazer’s account in The Golden Bough is a guide, the king would be sacrificed after an untoward and catastrophic event. It seems more efficacious than the lack of accountability that will ensue this massive 20 year blunder, just like Iraq, and countless other misdirected foreign interventions.

    1. Lee

      “The painful experience gained in the Middle East is gradually being absorbed by the American elites..”

      What painful experience might they be “absorbing”? Getting richer, while being well insulated from the consequences of their actions? I envisage sponge-like creatures greedily soaking up blood, sweat, tears, and treasure.

        1. newcatty

          What is relevant, too: the excretion of blood and tears is not distributed to the American elites. Its to human beings used by the military and the enemies of the elites. Veterans lives shattered. The others lives shattered. Just collateral damage. But, its not just civilians in wedding parties, its our kids. All horrendous. I would like to see kids who consider joining up, not show up. That would be a lot to discern why that would happen.

  4. Zamfir

    I wonder about the politics of those inertial confinement fusion experiments. ICF used to be rather discouraged as a field of research, as it has massive overlap with the development of compact fusion bombs That’s the main business of the lab in the article, and similar labs in France and China.

    I wonder how they see the future of ICF, if it becomes more successful in their own experiments. If they hope to scale ICF to industrial scale power generation, they can hardly expect to confine the required expertise to national security labs.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “Make no mistake, the US military will continue to thrive after Afghanistan”

    Of course they will still flourish. All those trillions have to go somewhere after all and is the reason why America’s top generals live in actual mansions. A little while ago I was listening to a video saying how the US was spending $300 million a day for the past twenty years in Afghanistan alone. And then the penny dropped. What if…what if the money for just one day spent in Afghanistan had been spent in America instead. And that $1 million had been given to every adult man and women in America. What would have been the effect? Let’s see, all those student debts would be gone, gone, gone and people would have money to further educate themselves without impoverishing themselves. People would be able to pay down bills, credit card debts, etc and with the freeing of all that money, it would give an economic boom to the American economy. Most people would be able to liquidate their mortgages or maybe by a house and have money to renovate them which would provide an additional boom to tradesmen, household furniture, gardening gear, etc. People would able to provide themselves healthcare and if Big Pharma jacked up prices, would be able to travel to another country and buy it there instead. Lots of people would be able to finally launch their own business and this to would help the general economy. I am sure that lots of people would think of other uses that a $1 million check would make in their lives but the amazing thing is that all this would be possible on only the money spent on one single, solitary day in Afghanistan.

    1. Zamfir

      I don’t think the math works out? 300 million dollar/day is roughly 1 dollar/day for each American person, or 7300dollar/person over the entire 20 years.

      1. The Rev Kev

        I think that it would work out. You are taking about several trillion dollars being spent in Afghanistan over the past two decades which supposedly works out to about $300 million dollars spent each and every day for those twenty years. So I was suggesting swiping one day’s spending in Afghanistan and spending it in America instead. And in fact, there are only about 210 million adults in America so each adult American could have been given more than a million dollars each. You have to admit, it would be an enticing prospect.

      2. AE90

        I thought Rev was talking about giving 1 mil to each from one day of 300 mil expenditure. Over twenty years, it’s 7300 * 300 mil, which my poor calculator relates as 2.19×10¹²
        Adds up to Trillions I imagine

      3. Polar Socialist

        Are you saying that only with 99 cents/day you can get the most corrupt government on the globe, all the opium the said globe can consume and at least several hundred thousand people killed and wounded?

        Can you say no to such a bargain…

      4. Zamfir

        @ kev, I can’t quite follow you there. 300 million dollar/day is about 1 dollar/day for each US citizen, or 1.50/day for each adult. Over 20 years, that’s indeed about 2 trillion dollar in total.

        Single trillions are just not that much, if you divide them over so many people and so many years. The US can afford as many trillion dollar wars as they like, it’s basically hobby money for them.

        1. GramSci

          On the other hand, if that 2 trillion had been invested in something productive, like single payer health care …

          1. Zamfir

            300 million a day is about 2% of US health care spending .

            It’s not one or the other .The US can have single payer health care with wars or without, the wars are a rounding error.

            1. hunkerdown

              The wars, then, must be for exporting and destroying the real resources those dollars would otherwise buy. I just saw your 9:18am response below, to which this answer is also responsive.

        2. The Rev Kev

          Yeah, I see that I made a mistake with my kitchen maths. End of a very long day here. Think of it this way. Suppose America had left Afghanistan when Trump wanted to and the Republicans & Democrats did not get together and pass a law to stop him. So America was out one year early and so did not spend that $100 billion for that year. Imagine the effect of that money spent as checks distributed to people during the present pandemic. At the very least old Joe would have been able to pay that $600 that he still owes people.

          1. Zamfir

            He still can afford the 600 bucks, of course.

            Sorry if I was annoying to you, but I think the point is important: these wars are not preventing the US from any kind of social program.

            When people in the US have financial problems, it’s not because the resources went to the wars. Those resources went mostly to the consumption of richer Americans. The entire Afghan war is a tiny blip compared to the US economy.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Don’t mind any correction at all. Still beat after digging a trench all day long so that is my excuse and I am sticking to it. I do recall one conversation between an US officer in Afghanistan and a visiting Congressman. The officer was saying could not the money be spent at home in America and the Congressman said absolutely not, probably because it would be never passed. The officer then said that he had been made responsible to spend a coupla bricks worth of US dollars but this was on people living in mud huts and did not even have windows in them.

              1. newcatty

                Hmmm, were you digging a trench or perhaps a moat? Time to not be defending your own castle with “smart house” tech. When the covid zombies escape into your realm, its better to be prepared. Ah, they say defense is the best offence. If you have not taken up archery, then it could be a new hobby. Of course, plenty of stored goods like food and water. (s)

                1. The Rev Kev

                  I needed a moat. Got a long, buried hose-line going down to a water-tub for our horses but the past few weeks they have been digging it up and breaking it again and again. Next thing you know, hundreds liters of water were flowing down our paddock. Had to turn to and dig a deeper trench for a brand new hose in plastic piping. Would have been a quick job but the ground here is solid clay with the consistency of concrete. I’m getting too old for this cr*p.

    2. sinbad66

      Assuming $300M x 365 days x 20 years (not counting the extra day in leaps years) = $2.19 trillion. And we bicker over the same amounts when it comes to spending on own country for our own people! No wonder non-Americans think we are insane (or just plain stupid)….and scratch their heads wondering why our infrastructure is falling apart….

    3. MonkeyBusiness

      They’ll thrive forever. One day a general will become a warlord in the US, and then another, and then another.

    4. Ian Perkins

      How much of that money was spent in Afghanistan? Michael Hudson reckons not much:
      The reality is that not much of the notorious $3 trillion actually was spent in Afghanistan. It was spent on Raytheon, Boeing and other military hardware suppliers, on the mercenary forces, and placed in the accounts of the Afghan proxies for the U.S. maneuvering to use Afghanistan to destabilize Central Asia on Russia’s southern flank and western China.

      This piece thoroughly would appear to agree:
      https://consortiumnews.com/2021/08/17/investors-in-us-weapon-makers-only-clear-winners-of-afghan-war/
      “Share prices of military manufacturers vastly outperformed the stock market overall during the Afghanistan War.”

      1. Polar Socialist

        Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) states that sum used for actual reconstruction has been $145 billion.

  6. Jason Boxman

    We can’t even have testing as a free national benefit in the middle of a pandemic.

    This is an updated version of an article first published on Nov. 13, 2020.

    The Delta-variant-driven wave of coronavirus infections is driving a new surge in testing — and that could mean more surprise medical bills.

    Congress wrote rules last spring to make most coronavirus testing free for all Americans. But patients, with or without insurance, have found holes in those new coverage programs.

    Federal law does not, for example, require insurers to cover the routine testing that a growing number of workplaces and schools are mandating. Some doctors and hospitals have tacked unexpected fees onto coronavirus testing bills, leaving patients with surprise charges ranging from a few dollars to over $1,000.

    And a checklist to protect yourself from neoliberal rent extraction:

    “If you can, get tested at a public site”
    “Ask your provider what they’ll bill you for”
    “Uninsured? Ask your doctor to bill the government, not you”
    “To challenge a surprise bill, know your rights under federal law”
    “Receive an unexpected bill? Medical codes could be the culprit”

    Medical codes!

  7. christofay

    “Florida couple busted in Hawaii,” they had a non-cancelable reservation at the White Lotus

    1. Maritimer

      Florida couple busted in Hawaii with fake vaccine cards Boing Boing. And again.
      FLA famous for folks shopping Doctors and getting lots of Oxycontin and other prescriptions. That certainly wasn’t controlled too well. Nor was Prohibition. Nor was the War On Drugs successful. So maybe shop a Doc for a fake vaccination or just a card or document.

      Now, there is a similar push to embark on a policy, Vaccine Passports, that is unpopular with at least 20% of the population if not more. And that unpopularity may grow more in the future. A whole subculture may grow up around Unvaccinated.

      It certainly looks like there will be a good proportion of the population which will disrespect these mandates and the Governments that dictate them.

  8. John

    If the departure of foreign contractors was a key point in the collapse of the Afghan Army as the Foreign Policy article claims, then the entire enterprise was doomed from the start. If you cannot train your replacement in 20 years I submit that either you did not try to do so or you are a grossly incompetent grifter.

    1. Keith

      Well, training was one element. Bigger issue was the operations and maintenance functions that the Afghans depended on, like maintaining aircraft and providing intelligence, much of which may not have been allowed to be outsourced to locals over security concerns, invludjng protecting human assets and preventing the loss of classified technology and equipment.

    2. David

      Experience shows that you can train a basic infantry soldier quite quickly (I’ve been told 12 weeks) and then have them move on to speciality training. So twenty years does sound a long time, doesn’t it?
      But there are two problems. One is retention: in many countries, people join the Army, get weapon training, take the money and leave before being deployed on operations. It’s not unknown for them then to re-join under another name for the same benefits. This isn’t confined to Afghanistan: the FARDC, the Congolese Army, has been given the same treatment for almost as long, but of its 135,000 personnel on the books, nobody really knows how many they are. So you get both a huge turnover in personal, and no chance for soldiers to get experience, and become the NCOs on which the fighting ability of any army depends.

      The other is that the West has supplied the Afghans which weapons which require sophisticated maintenance by skilled manpower. This even extends to personal weapons: I’ve been told by ex-trainers that even the automatic weapons given to the Afghans were hopelessly complex to use and to maintain. And as for helicopters …. So if you have a military which is in a constant state of flux, where many of the personnel exist only on paper, where nobody stays long enough to be trained to do anything difficult, then contractors are your only answer. And no contractors means no army. It would have been helpful, to put it mildly, if the West had looked at the record of the Taliban and the Islamic State in producing effective light infantry forces in a short time and with only simple equipment.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Another minor point is that while it is true that you can train a person to be a soldier in 12 weeks, that it takes about two years to have that soldier become a true vet. Winston Churchill also said the same back in WW2 in reference to the incoming US soldiers. And it makes a big difference when a soldier becomes a vet. I was reading accounts from the Peninsular War how experienced British soldiers would arrive on a battlefield and instantly surmise what the tactical situation was and where they should be deployed without an officer having to tell them.

        1. Eustachedesaintpierre

          After Independence in East Africa many of the British trained native soldiers in Uganda, Kenya & Tanzania took part in mutinys, my Dad was part of the effort in putting down the Ugandan version which was fortunately bloodless. They were badly paid & wanted rid of the remaining British officers, who as my Dad said likely treated them like shit & I suppose that they most probably didn’t feel that they owed the British anything who were supposed to have left.

          I don’t know if a certain Army light heavyweight champion boxer was involved, who later became infamous as Idi Amin.

    3. Skip Intro

      If your business government relies on a platform gang of mercenaries…

      I wonder what Machiavelli would say… oh wait.

      1. Synoia

        It is well documented that the Mercenaries displace the “leaders” who hired them. and perform a hostile takeover of the rulers.

    4. Procopius

      The entire enterprise was doomed from the start. I read an analysis that pointed out there was no way the Afghan GDP could sustain the size of military and police forces that the U.S. had designed for them. Another point I never got, the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction had no trouble finding and recording thousands of cases of corruption. Why were the people sending the money unable to do so? The Marine Corps Small Wars Manual from 1940 warned junior officers that when they conducted counter-insurrection operations they must take care to insure that the constabulary/police force they created (an absolutely essential step) must be well paid and well fed. How was it possible that the officers we sent to “train” the Afghan army and police were not able or willing to do that? Well, of course, the whole twenty year project was for the sole purpose of giving money to American contractors. The penny should have dropped when George W. Bush said out loud that capturing bin Laden was not important.

  9. Keith

    Remember the big thing with Menendez is that Biden’s former boss, Obama, tried putting him in jail. This could be a chance at payback.

      1. dday

        One of the unexpected benefits of the covid slow down has been our ability to finally watch the TV show “The Sopranos”. The opening has a great montage of New Jersey life accompanied by the song “Woke Up This Morning”.

        This video from the first season shows the twin towers from the New Jersey side.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mJpNmYeooQE

        1. Eustachedesaintpierre

          An Alabama 3 song, from the album Exile on Coldharbour Lane which is in Brixton, London where they hang out.

          A great lunatic live band that we experienced in Belfast a few years back.

        2. SteveB aka Stevie the suitcase

          Having been born and raised in NJ, what you are seeing in that clip is a very small slice of NJ along the NJ turnpike across the river from NYC…

          Most of NJ is nothing like that. The north west portion is beautiful mountainous country. Ths south is acres and acres of pinelands… and of course the famous Jersey shore with miles of wonderful beaches and amusement parks. And nothing like that stupid show on MTV loaded with NY folk..

          I lived there for 65 years…. NJ can be wonderful

          1. Michael Ismoe

            I lived there for 65 years…. NJ can be wonderful

            And every one of their politicians is crooked.

          2. Wukchumni

            Yo, it’s been there for over 300 years now, isn’t time to lose the modifier, and by the way where are the gardens?

  10. Randy

    CNN currently has this big scary headline on the front page of its website: “VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN JALALABAD”. Please forgive me for being an ugly American, but I’ve never heard of Jalalabad in my life and had to look it up to see it is in Afghanistan. I’m willing to bet that Jalalabad has seen “violence erupt” in it before at some time in the past 20 years, but now it’s suddenly front page news and CNN expects us to know where it is just by name.

    So yeah, this withdrawal has clearly broken a lot of beltway minds and ricebowls if CNN is this hysterical and suddenly devoting front page coverage to Afghanistan for the first time since like 2003. I’m curious how long this can last before the countervailing MSM goal of not criticizing Biden lest Orange Man comes back kicks back in.

    1. zagonostra

      Don’t you remember when the U.S. was hunting Osama? Surely you remember Tora Bora? Jalalabad, Tora Bora, Kabul, euphonic names that glide off the tongue and belie the chaotic and violent reality on the ground.

    2. Eloined

      Indeed, you may only have heard of Jalalabad if you paid passing attention to the 20-yr war which is again on the front page of CNN’s website — the site of notable events from the earliest days of the war when Bin Laden’s passed through in 2001, to last year’s “IS-K”-led outbreak of hundreds of prisoners, and further assaults killing Afghan forces earlier this year… or if you were familiar with a number of other Afghan wars of empire that featured a notable Battle of Jalalabad.

      It’s a place with a history, but CNN doesn’t really expect you to know the details.

      1. Randy

        Re both you and zagonostra:
        I was in the 8th grade (!!!) when we invaded Afghanistan, so I wasn’t very dialed in back then. As for why I’m dumb as bricks to this day about the place, I have to concede I have no excuse.

        1. Eloined

          No excuse needed, I would argue no offense. It has been an over-long war (or “authorization to use military force”) with major gaps between top-story coverage broadcast in the US, particularly over the last 8 or 9 years.

          And in the meantime, the threat has “metastasized” as Biden just put it, such that that we will be extending our apparently novel “over-the-horizon” capabilities into regions and municipalities with names heretofore unspoken by network personalities.

        2. zagonostra

          @Randy, thanks I forgot how old I am, 60, jez 20 years that’s a damn time to be at “war” and to go about your life every day not even think to much about it…

          1. newcatty

            Old guys and young guy being gracious and considerate. Cudos! No ageism here on NC ! BTW, I’m one of the aged ones.

    3. cocomaan

      Yep, they’re clearly trying to force Biden into something. Reinvading Afghanistan? It’s interesting how Biden and Psaki were both on vacation when this happened. Makes me wonder how organic this all really was.

      My guess is that this Afghanistan pullout hangs on Biden for the rest of his presidency. Bloody shirt to be waved. Going to be a lot like Benghanzi, with endless hearings amounting to nothing, but still sucking a lot of air out of the administration.

      1. Keith

        This could be a boon to the Progressive movement. The hammer is dropping on Biden from the Moderates. Biden needs allies, so that may force him deeper into the far left camp, that is the Pelosi camp. Reading morning money this morning (via Politico), Biden is not backing Pelosi’s bid to prevent allowing the infrastructure deal to move without the Progressive wishlist deal, despite pushback from moderates in the House. For better or worse, Biden may need to stay in Pelosi’s good graces until this whole Afghan issue gets swept up by something else.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          No one has brought up Afghanistan to me, even the people who know I despise Biden. I confess there will be victims in the next few months, but there would have been had we stayed or dragged it out. Which isn’t to say we shouldn’t look for areas to improve, but the attacks on Biden will backfire especially from Democrats.

          It turned out isn’t wasn’t the Republicans preventing Obama from ending the war. He was just a pig at the trough.

          1. Keith

            I don’t think anyone really cares about Afghanistan, outside the beltway although he does need to get the rest of the Americans out, as that could be bad politically for him. His political opposition can use this to derail anything he hopes to do, though. If these issues go to committee, expect that will be the focus of the Congress, which could be useful for passing some legislation for their benefactors.

            Also, the fall out is great timing for Team Dem, it is a long way from the election and so will be forgotten, provided some disaster doesn’t occur to American citizens.

            That being said, for the next couple of weeks, these guys can extract a pound of flesh from Biden.

        2. Robert Gray

          > … force him deeper into the far left camp, that is the Pelosi camp.

          What a woeful, piteous, sad state of affairs when Nancy Pelosi represents the ‘far left’ camp of anything.

            1. AE90

              Being House Leader is not only about being best at fundraising, I guess. It’s about immediately setting about co-option of “dangerous elements” too.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Benghazi didn’t hurt the Obama agenda. If anything, it distracted from how right wing he was.

      3. Glossolalia

        Didn’t they already reinvade by sending in 7000 troops for the “evacuation”? It’s probably best to keep them there for a few months or years just make sure any stragglers get out.

      1. Maritimer

        So, let’s just say Novavax is the better vax. But what is the interaction with Pfi, AZ, JJ, 1,2,3…. Who knows and no time to find out—just roll the dice!

    1. Lee

      Either nobody knows or those who know aren’t telling us.

      A family friend, in his early thirties who received the Moderna vaccine a few months back, appears to be experiencing a breakthrough Covid infection. As of last night he had a headache, a fever of 101, and showed positive on a home testing kit. Have yet to speak with him this morning.

  11. John Merryman.

    The contractor issue sounds like the “right to repair” problem. Is it due to Afghans being too incompetent, or there was too much money to be made by keeping it in house?

  12. zagonostra

    >After Afghanistan, where next? Biden must show resolutenes – The Hill

    I used to listen to “The Rising” with Krystal and Saagar when they were on “The Hill.” I don’t know too much about this news outlet, but I’m starting to really question whether they are any different than other corporate media outlets in wanting the MIC to continue bleeding the U.S. treasury when there are so many needs that cry out for attention in this country.

    From this article it looks like the author is priming his audience for the “Big Pivot” to the pacific theater. I can’t wait for the next debacle.

    …how can President Biden and his team recover their sea legs and convey to the world that the United States is not somehow weak, irresolute, or undependable..it would be a good time to underscore to Beijing that, if China attacked Taiwan, some type of very strong American and allied response would be inevitable, whatever the proximate cause of the conflict.

    https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/568232-after-afghanistan-where-next-biden-must-show-resolutenes

    1. jr

      In related news: The Hill’s “Rising” has a new host opposite Ryan Grimm, a Ms. Farrah, who was opining the other day that bipartisanship is the Golden Path to political Nirvana…

    2. Lost in OR

      I still browse through the Rising and find that they sometimes have informative segments.

      Like NPR and the rest of corporate media, it is instructive to remember where their funding is coming from. In the Rising’s case, it’s Citi bank.

    1. marym

      Thank you for this link. A good overview and food for thought on key issues.

      One point of interest to me is to understand the Taliban today as opposed to whatever the reality or stereotypes of 20 years ago, and their evolution over time. There seem to be a few interesting references to follow up on this. Thanks again.

        1. marym

          Thank you. Other work by the author of your first link is referenced in Darthblobber’s link. Also, here’s a recent article in the Guardian.

          11 issues of lessons! The commitment to not learning is very strong.

    2. pasha

      thanks for the link, an excellent read and very informative, i’m archiving it.

      a friend who did his peace corps service there agrees, this is spot on

  13. AE90

    Re: When Your Boss Wants an AI Camera in Your Bedroom, Cory Doctorow, OneZero

    Yesterday I was reading about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s new projects and his embrace of the future of “Hollywood” being owned by Tech, which he says is almost complete. I get consumed with curiousity about interviewees a lot, and in stalking him online saw that his wife is a multi-millionaire cofounder and CEO of a “telepresence” robot company, which led me to shopping for one and watching demos. One had a robot sitting by the wall in an apartment, with a woman sitting on a couch nearby. Suddenly, the robot came to life, the screen switched on, and it rolled over to the couch, where the woman smiled happily and talked to the man on the screen.
    I had an inner scream. “Alone time” has bitten the dust with these monsters. When my husband walked out the door, or the boss walked out the door, this was time to get shit done without gratuitous interruptions. Meetings were scheduled, this thing can get up in your bidness without warning. Just try saying “talk to the hand” to a spying telepresence robot. I admit I am reclusive and introverted, if I had to have one of these things, it would be in the closet with the battery removed. I will still answer the phone though.

      1. AE90

        Unless that thing is programmed to knock me out with an electric shock if I mess with it, it has no chance. Even then, I can tell it to take a nice warm bath…

    1. jr

      God, what a freaking horror show. Robot caregivers who have no ability to conceive of the concept of care, android “friends” for suicide prevention amongst the lonely and alienated, artificial wombs so you can avoid the hassles of pregnancy and watch your kid grow like a Sea-Monkey in a plastic bag*, and now Dalek boss-bots that suddenly fire up when the suits want to peek in on you in your home-cubicle. Ghastly times.

      *not that this technology wouldn’t have it’s uses in certain situations of infertility, risk from pregnancy, and of course capping that the woman’s ultimate decision what to do with her body. I just think it would represent a profound and debilitating influence on the value of the experience of being pregnant. I only say that because pregnant women I’ve know have communicated that value to me. I dare say no more.

  14. diptherio

    Brad De Long needs to go back to SF and stay there. If he’s worried about Delta spreading in rural MT, it’s yahoos like him from coastal cities who will be bringing it in.

    Some further background: Carbon and Teton counties are both home to ski towns: Red Lodge in Carbon, and Jackson Hole in Teton. Only locals go to Red Lodge (it’s where I learned to snowboard, and where I hurt myself really bad snowboarding), while Jackson Hole draws in the wealthy from all over the world. The two places are in no way comparable to each other, economically or socially. For instance,

    A 2019 Bloomberg L.P. report (citing Bureau of Economic Analysis figures) found that Teton had the highest average incomes per capita of any county in the United States, at $252,000.

    Carbon Co., on the other hand, does not appear on any “richest counties” list. Carbon also has a population of about 10,000 souls spread over 2,000+ sq. miles. It’s rural. And it’s also relatively close to Billings, the largest population center in the state, where anybody with real medical issues would go, and where Mr. De Long would have had no problem finding his take-away test. These facts have far, far more to do with De Long’s experience than the relative voter share of the Dem and Repub parties in the last election.

    People in rural Montana don’t act like people in wealthy enclaves, or like people in big coastal cities. There are reasons for that. They are not what De Long thinks they are. Speaking as a Montanan, I won’t be at all sad if De Long gives the Big Sky State a miss the next time he decides to go on a tour of the imperial hinterlands.

    1. jefemt

      I enjoyed the way he deftly kept the politicization of the Covid and The Vax on the high BTU front-burner at a rolling boil.

      I got shingles– thought it was bug bites… went to urgent care in Bozeangeles del California Norte… at the urging of my wife.
      I tried to sit outside, in the fresh air, and give them my cell number to call when they were ready for me. . Pointed out I was un-vaxxed, did not want to spread, or contract. Un-insured. A medical bankruptcy waiting to happen. This at a medical facility. No go.

      So, in that– DeLong and I shared a common experience: counter-intuitive non-sensical behaviors by the trained smartest guys in the room.

    2. montanamaven

      Beat me to it! But much more eloquent! Montana is the 4 largest state and has around 1 million people in the whole state. Most of it is mountainous and agricultural. My county is the size of the state of Rhode Island and has 3600 people in it and not one stop light. Our vax rate is 39% but the virus last fall hit it hard and a lot of people got sick but did not die. So a lot of people feel they have the antibodies. They also stick to themselves and so have been social distancing for years. The overall vax rate for Montana is 49%. Yes, the counties with larger cities have higher rates . Gallatin County is 56%. Nearby Park County is 54%. Missoula is 62%. Yellowstone County is 48%.
      I still think that the skiers brought this to Montana last February when I flew from Bozeman to NYC. They were speaking French and even Chinese. So, yes, please vacation somewhere else. As it is, we have way too many tourists here, but the fishing guides need the business.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        “….but the fishing guides need the business.”

        Yes they do. I’ve been to parts of the intermontane northwest that aren’t sexy enough to have “too many tourists” (i.e. Republic, WA) but no longer have resource extraction to rely on. They’re about on par with parts of West Virginia for poverty, social dysfunction, pervasive sadness, and guys in bars ranting about black helicopters*. Wishing “wealthy” coastal Americans would stay away feels real good, but there would be a significant increase in misery, addiction and out-migration of the young and vital if it ever happens. Unless you want to re-open the Berkeley Pit in Butte.

        *(c. 1997, when cutting edge CT was dominated by different tropes. My husband got to hear about it all evening from a big bear of a guy… who admitted he mostly lived off his wife’s disability payments.)

        1. lordkoos

          Ah yes, Republic, WA — home to Republican candidate for governor police chief Loren Culp, who is still contesting his loss to Jay Inslee, although he lost by well over half a million votes and has been unable to show any evidence of fraud. Now running for congress against a Republican incumbent, Culp has copied the Trump playbook by leveraging his allegations of election fraud to a stream of fundraising efforts, raising $55,000 in donations, later directing a combined $45,000 in campaign funds to his personal accounts for lost wages and mileage reimbursements.

          He won every county but one in eastern WA and a few on the west side as well but was typically crushed by voters in the more urban counties bordering Puget sound.

    3. Chauncey Gardiner

      Will be interesting to see to what extent, if any, past political party voting patterns and comparative levels of household income play in covid case numbers and mortality rates going forward. If I’m correctly interpreting the charts that Lambert puts up daily in his Water Cooler posts, there doesn’t appear to be a high level of correlation between current “rapid riser counties” and the particular metrics that DeLong points to, although it might be useful to drill down to comparative statistics by zip code nationally. I have much respect for Brad DeLong’s ability and academic work, but do think he could have improved receptivity to his post by acknowledging his political priors.

    4. Lambert Strether Post author

      > it’s yahoos like him from coastal cities who will be bringing it in.

      Quite true. Amazing that we’re about to coerce people to take a vaccine the FDA* has not approved, but restricting air travel? Not on anybody’s radar at all.

      * The FDA is pretty silent on Pfizer. It’s quiet. Too quiet.

      1. anonymous

        The subject of Moderna possibly being better than Pfizer came up at the meeting at which third doses for the immunocompromised were discussed. Peter Marks said that he didn’t find the methodology of the Mayo study compelling, that it wasn’t peer-reviewed, and that we would have data from real studies soon. Question at 1 hr 50 sec:
        https://www.idsociety.org/multimedia/clinician-calls/cdcidsa-covid-19-clinician-call-additional-vaccine-doses-in-the-immune-compromised-plus-the-latest-on-the-delta-variant-and-vaccination-in-pregnant-women/
        The Mayo study looked good to me, but I’m no expert. It was cited in the slides for the presentation:
        https://www.idsociety.org/globalassets/idsa/media/clinician-call-slides–qa/08-14-21-clinician-call-slides-1.pdf
        If Moderna is shown to be better as the initial series, but then uses a half dose for the booster, that complicates things – would the difference in effectiveness have been from the dose (Moderna used 100 micrograms vs 30 for Pfizer), the different lipids (a stronger adjuvant?), the trimer vs single strand?

  15. Matthew G. Saroff

    It should be noted that Xi Jinping’s comments on wealth are almost identical to those of the founder of the hyper-capitalist Mecca modern Singapore Lee Kuan Yew made similar statements against excessive wealth accumulation.

    Yew’s point was one of economic success, that if those at the top keep it all, there was less growth generally, but I think that Xi’s motivations also include fears of the loss of political power that Kew never really concerned himself with. (Yew was best described as a capitalist version of Stalin)

        1. lordkoos

          That’s been in effect for decades.

          In 2008 I ran a spoof ebay auction for the spine of the Democratic party (with an opening bid of a penny), and did enjoy some hate mail from pissed off Democrats before ebay took the listing down.

    1. MonkeyBusiness

      I think the generations after Lee Kuan Yew are not as concerned about wealth inequality as him. Singapore has many billionaires, both homegrown and imported. Then there’s the Sovereign Wealth Funds that are responsible for investing the savings of Singaporeans. Since the money came from citizens, by all rights, there should be enough money to help struggling ordinary citizens and small businesses like hawker center operators, but then you read things like the following: https://sg.yahoo.com/style/adapting-stay-afloat-elderly-hawkers-060407769.html, and you realize that the whole thing is probably another scam.

      1. lordkoos

        Street vendors and hawkers all over SE asia could be a dying breed, it’s unfortunate. Hopefully their recipes will be saved, as many have been perfected over a lifetime, or even over generations. Many of the food sellers’ kids are not interested in cooking for a living, even though their parents’ work often paid for their education.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “NSW loses control, recording 633 COVID cases”

    I was saying to another reader the other day how being in Australia right now is like being in a Zombie film. You guys know the scene. The survivors are trapped in a location with all the Zombies on the outside being kept at bay. And then you have some idiot open an entrance because they want to escape by themself or they want to go after the Zombies (‘Shaun of the Dead’) or because they see a close relative among the Zombies (‘Train to Busan’) and want to see them again. Next thing you know, the survivors are in a fight for their lives with the Zombies swarming in.

    Well that idiot is here is Gladys Berejiklian, Premier of NSW who not only delayed locking down a whole month, but was responsible for it spreading to half the other States and now New Zealand. Nice one, Gladys. And instead of dealing with people honestly, she daily keep going on about how soon they will be able to lift restrictions – just as soon as they reach a vaccination rate of about 70%. After that, it can be treated ‘just like the flu’ as Scotty from Marketing says. My own State has managed to stop it again though there is a mask mandate but Victoria is having a hard time stopping it.

    What cause her to finally lock down? I think that it was the politics of seeing this virus spread through the Aboriginal population who may be very vulnerable to it. Having a high death toll among them would definitely not be a good look for her & Scotty’s party. If they were going to let the virus spread, perhaps they should have made certain that the most vulnerable people in the community were already vaccinated first instead of after the fact. Gawd. Neoliberals will kill us all.

    1. Vandemonian

      We here on the South Island of Australia are very happy that the stretch of water to our North seems to have kept the zombies at bay (for now).

      Our last recorded case of community transmission was on the 8th of May. Last year.

      1. The Rev Kev

        Yeah, I remember that you guys had to put down a hard outbreak centered around a hospital back then. I suppose at least in future you will be a State that will have a travel bubble with New Zealand for travel. Interesting times.

        1. Vandemonian

          Yeah, about that. Technically, the hospital wasn’t actually shut down. It was moved 100km (all COVID negative patients and new admissions) and re-established as a completely isolated separate unit inside another hospital. No virus transmission was identified.

          And the COVID cases in that first hospital were all passengers that NSW Health and/or Border Protection let go from the Ruby Princess.

          World travel holidays – who’d bother?

    2. vlade

      I talked to a friend how lives in Sydney, just when Arden was announcing the hard lockdown for NZ.

      His take was “good on her, they should have done it here from the start, the ‘lockdown’, now in the seventh week, is a joke”. He said pretty much all building industry was going as if nothing was happening, many bars etc were open (nominally for take-aways, but people we resitting outside) etc. etc, and only very recently they hardened it (he felt with too many execptions).

      That said, I’ll be really curious to see whether NZ is able to deal with its outbreak. Apparently, the fist community case was detected when it was already at least two weeks in, and there are many infected who frequented very large gatherings.

      IMO, if NZ fails now, then it shows that only a military-enforced “we don’t let you out at all” lockdown would work with Delta, if that.

  17. Wukchumni

    The Well Fixer’s Warning The Atlantic
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    The biggest issue in the CVBB is the vast majority of Ag are tree crops which are like kids in some fashion, you watch them start from almost nothing-baby trees, where all you do is nurture them for many years without any reward aside from seeing them grow up, and then watch them graduate into being useful members of society, pulling their own weight by producing profits.

    We’re at the point where so many farmers want to keep their progeny going, for were you to let them wither and die, you’d have to start all over again, essentially a decade behind.

    The race to the bottom is on, just about every one of the 666 million nut & fruit trees in Cali are being watered from one mutual milkshake down under with a veritable shitlode of straws in the ground all sucking hard.

    1. Pelham

      But those fruit and nut trees supply the rest of the country with fruit and nuts. Then shouldn’t we all have a vote as to how water is allocated in California? Nationally, we might decide that, say, Silicon Valley and L.A. ought to be shut down rather than sacrifice those genuinely productive trees.

      1. Wukchumni

        When I was a kid the rest of the country derisively called denizens of the state i’m in: ‘the land of fruits & nuts’, meaning to say gays & out there California culture. They weren’t deriding food.

  18. The Rev Kev

    “Amazing 1,300-Year-Old Technology Found Hidden in Comox Harbour”

    A fascinating article this. Had to look up where it was and it is the east coast of Vancouver Island. There is a more extensive article talking about these fish traps with maps, images and the like. One photo showed a removable fence that was found in the mud some years ago. The whole idea is brilliant. I have seen illustrations of smaller ones but the ones shown here were huge-

    https://www.hakaimagazine.com/features/the-ingenious-ancient-technology-concealed-in-the-shallows/

    1. Mildred Montana

      I also found this article fascinating. I lived in the area thirty years ago but learned from the story things I never knew. I’ve forwarded it to my brother who I’m sure will find it equally fascinating. (I gave due credit to NC for the wonderful link!)

      1. Swamp Yankee

        I am a huge fan of fish weirs, and indeed have surreptitiously begun building one on a (tidal) salt creek in the saltmarsh near my house here in coastal SE Massachusetts.

        Ruins of these structures are well known throughout the world, but are most studied in Britain and Ireland, essentially because this is where both physical conditions (cool climate, tidal waters) and human conditions (the large-scale presence of universities with anthropologists and archaeologists) were primed. There are thousands catalogued there, with eastern North America a close second, made from stone and wood. But they’re present globally.

        My favorite weir is the famous Boylston Street Fishweir in Boston. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boylston_Street_Fishweir. It was uncovered in the 20th century in the course of excavating for subway lines. The weir was something like half a mile long, made of 65,000 stakes, and enclosing ~4 acres of the former back bay. It was radiocarbon-dated to c. 2,500 B.C.

  19. Wukchumni

    The Caldor wildfire in the foothills southwest of Lake Tahoe is turning into quite the conflagration, now closing in on 60k acres with towering flames being fanned by 35 mph winds, its essentially unstoppable @ this point.

    Oodles of well off peeps from SF relocated to Lake Tahoe in the midst of Covid, and were the wildfire to burn it up it’d be something akin to Paradise, the difference being that movers & shakers from the Bay would be on the receiving end-not middle class country bumpkins.

    1. lordkoos

      Here in central WA we have the Schneider Springs Fire, located in between Yakima and Mt Rainier which has produced apocalyptic scenes like this one,

      https://townsquare.media/site/113/files/2021/08/attachment-schneiderfire.jpg?w=1200&h=0&zc=1&s=0&a=t&q=89

      and which yesterday blotted out the sun here with a thick brown cloud the likes of which I have never seen. Fortunately for us that dense cloud was kept aloft by high winds, but unfortunately those same winds fanned the fire which increased by 40% in 24 hours, now around 32,000 acres and not under control. Today thankfully the smoke is not coming in our direction. It’s been a miserably hot and smoky summer.

      I read that the fires in Siberia are bigger than all the fires in the US combined.

  20. Mildred Montana

    Afghanistan and the media:

    I am amazed at the unanimity of the talking heads on this issue. Any source, anywhere, don’t matter. Taliban bad, Biden dumb, a tragedy, a mistake, blah, blah, blah. Not a single dissenting voice. And certainly no mention of Saudi Arabia (an American ally!), also a Wahhabi state and where women can be whipped by the religious police for baring their arms in public.

    After a day-long dose of mainstream media yesterday, my maxed-out spleen has inspired this little parody:

    HOME, HOME ON TV (best sung by a retired general)

    Oh, I’ve found a home, where pundits’ mouths foam,
    Where stories and myths give me good pay.
    Where never is heard a contrary word,
    And my lies are not challenged all day.

    1. Maritimer

      “I am amazed at the unanimity of the talking heads on this issue. Any source, anywhere, don’t matter….Not a single dissenting voice.”
      ****
      I am amazed that folks do not see any similarities between Afghanistan and Covid Policy. All the talking heads, any source, anywhere sing the same Covid Vaccine song. Any dissenting voice, even eminent and well qualified scientists and medical professionals silenced, deplatformed, censored. As are prophylactics and treatments.

      The Afghan War was highly popular at its inception with 80-90% of the MSM swallowing populace all gung ho to get even. Vilify the critics, traitors, silence them, attack.

      Seems like similar numbers now for Government and MSM mandated Covid policies. I was a skeptic back in 2001 and I still am of all things Government and MSM. Batting .500 so far.

  21. Camelotkidd

    The Trillbilly article is excellent, and says a lot about how America treats any problem–by declaring a war against it. This dynamic enriches the constituents of the wars underlying political/economy but ultimately does nothing to solve the long term problems.
    This excerpt gets to the heart of this approach–“It is important that we keep track of the real chain of events. Dutiful liberals rely on Big Pharma and the Sackler Family as the story’s chief villains because it is easy, familiar, and even somewhat comforting. If the crisis is simply a matter of capitalism gone wrong, of corporations abusing their exalted position in society, then with a few tweaks to the existing order, everyone can have their Atticus Finch moment and go home. But if reactionary taxpayer activists or our current policing paradigm also contributed to the problem, then the solution becomes infinitely more complex. If that’s the case, then we might have to start asking why it’s necessary that large swathes of the population be rendered surplus for society to function “properly.” We might have to ask if defund the police is a demand just as relevant to rural areas as urban ones. We might have to ask whether society itself must change.”

  22. Ghost in the Machine

    The Well Fixer’s Warning

    “Every farmer I meet, I explain how far and fast the water table is dropping,” Angell said. “I tell them, ‘We’re going to get our asses handed to us.’ Some of them listen and mutter. Most of the others look at me like I’m crazy.”

    I understand that people often don’t understand things that when understood impacts their income negatively, but I still find this ignorance and delusion in the face of such obvious facts astounding.

    I am thinking of this scene from Erik the Viking a lot these days.

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=ee6-sI9rdtA

    1. Daryl

      Back when Texas was in really bad drought, I recall reading an interview with a farmer who had drilled very deep into the water table to get consistent supply. “I’m drought proof,” he said.

      (In fact, I googled that exact phrase and found the article: https://www.startribune.com/rio-grande-is-a-river-under-duress/483783801/).

      It was a pretty sad thing to read. Even the great aquifers can be depleted, and this country seems dead set on proving that it is possible to do so.

  23. Wukchumni

    Why a fast-spreading coronavirus and a half-vaccinated public can be a recipe for disaster Los Angeles Times
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    I’m expecting an awful lot of evangs in the CVBB will be ‘left behind’, shit out of luck when it comes to being able to procure a hospital bed or intubator, as the hospital in Visalia is now full.

    Will this cause them to get religion, er the vaccine?

    Or do they blissfully go off to their great reward and get fitted for wings?

  24. Wukchumni

    My buddy runs sightseeing tours in Sequoia NP and his business model before Covid was to have a dozen complete strangers in a 15 person van and he’d give commentary and show them around the NP on a 5 hour tour-a 5 hour tour.

    Covid killed that off obviously, and he’d been doing private tours instead and it was working out ok even if he was making a lot less income, but now he tells me he’s getting a lot of cancellations on those as well and people are scared again.

  25. cocomaan

    CDC is now “announcing a plan for the future” with regard to boosters, “based on an assessment of data” found in the last few days. Which somehow means that the public needs boosters.

    I think. Maybe. Or it’s a plan to plan to bring about boosters. I don’t understand what the Surgeon General is trying to say.

    I’m so old I remember that three weeks ago boosters were categorically not necessary, according to the CDC.

    I know, the science is saying X, Y, Z, but I can’t help but feel like the CDC is swinging in the wind.

    1. TalkingCargo

      If the intent is to get as many shots in arms as possible, this would make perfect “sense”.

      Whether or not it is good science is another matter.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > I know, the science is saying X, Y, Z, but I can’t help but feel like the CDC is swinging in the wind.

      What they are not doing is communicating the scientific process dynamically (as if it were, say, a sports team).

      All that the public sees is some studies and a policy decision. Then there’s a blank space. Then there are rumors of a policy change in the press. Then there is another bout of studies and a policy decision, which may undo the first policy decision.

      It’s as if they think they are the pilots of an airplane. Every so often there is turbulence, and an announcement is made from the cockpit. Then silence again.

      If nothing else, the Trump + Biden administration’s handling of Covid scientific communication will be studied as a supreme example of bungling. (Biden retaining Fauci was so, so bad. Biden should have hung a medal on Fauci and stuffed him in a sack; a good third of the country actively hates him, and I would bet he’s trusted by less than half. Get some new non-gerontocratic rock star type in there.)

      1. Cocomaan

        I think you’re absolutely right that Biden could have retired Fauci, never thought about it before but that seems the height of wisdom. Celebrate success of spring time case rates declining, perfect. Next gig: CNN

    1. Mildred Montana

      Another big fan here. My nephew really digs “Post-World-War-II Blues”, which is surprising because he’s a Stones fan and because he’s only twenty.

      Al Stewart said after he wrote “Year of the Cat” that if the song wasn’t a hit he didn’t know anything about music (according to Wiki). He knew something about music. It was a hit as most everyone knows.

        1. Mildred Montana

          Although my musical tastes incline toward heavier stuff, I’ve always liked the song. In fact, I know it so well that I can “sing” it in its entirety:

          “On a morning from a Bogart movie,
          In a country where they turn back time,
          You go strolling through the crowd like Peter Lorre,
          Contemplating a crime…”

          (Lyrics typed from memory, not copy-and-pasted, and I apologize for inflicting them on you, lordkoos. I just got carried away.) ;)

          1. lordkoos

            Not a problem — it’s more the sound of his voice and the melody that I abhor rather than the lyrics.

  26. Wukchumni

    New Yorker called wondering if I was interested in subscribing again, and I told the lady matter of fact that i’d been a subscriber for many decades and the content had largely gone to shit, and surprisingly, she told me lots of people she was contacting had said the same thing, how refreshing-the honesty!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > She told me lots of people she was contacting had said the same thing

      I’m amazed that she would say that. No doubt if the message reaches the higher-ups, they’ll double down on what they’re doing.

      Even the cartoons are bad, and that caption contest is the worst. If it doesn’t take professionals to come up with good punchlines, then what’s the value-add of the New Yorker editorial process? Negative, but then you knew that.

  27. antidlc

    https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/08/grim-warning-israel-vaccination-blunts-does-not-defeat-delta


    A grim warning from Israel: Vaccination blunts, but does not defeat Delta

    What is clear is that “breakthrough” cases are not the rare events the term implies. As of 15 August, 514 Israelis were hospitalized with severe or critical COVID-19, a 31% increase from just 4 days earlier. Of the 514, 59% were fully vaccinated. Of the vaccinated, 87% were 60 or older. “There are so many breakthrough infections that they dominate and most of the hospitalized patients are actually vaccinated,” says Uri Shalit, a bioinformatician at the Israel Institute of Technology (Technion) who has consulted on COVID-19 for the government. “One of the big stories from Israel [is]: ‘Vaccines work, but not well enough.’”

    1. TalkingCargo

      Wait – “Vaccines work but not well enough?”

      Not sure how they can be “working” if they’re not “working well enough”.

      But then I’m not a doctor.

  28. Wukchumni

    Florida couple busted in Hawaii with fake vaccine cards Boing Boing. And again.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    How shocking, state of the art 1920’s technology has been faked, whoda thunk?

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > How shocking, state of the art 1920’s technology has been faked, whoda thunk?

      I agree. We should be requiring up-to-date digital technology. It’s totally unhackable.

      (As I’m sure you understand, the point of the link is that air travel is far too easy. For the forseeable future, there should be less of it, and for international travel, quarantines at the destinations.)

      1. Wukchumni

        I’m doing my part with only 3 domestic plane trips since 9/11, and unless it was of the utmost urgency, can’t imagine flying again anytime soon.

    2. me

      They can look up to see if you got it, there are databases, states & private (part of EHR system).

  29. lordkoos

    “Russia on Track to Deliver Fighter Jets to Myanmar – Reports Moscow Times. Food for Stingers….”

    Providing military aid to the generals in Myanmar is very bad thing. It would be a real tragedy if Myanmar were to become a proxy battlefield between Russia and the USA.

  30. Brunches with Cats

    “Sending this one out to Joe in DC….”

    Beneath the linked video:
    For The Love of Money
    The Payback
    Dead Presidents*

    For real. Not making this up.

    * Sound track from the 1995 film

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Dead Presidents

      This one?

      “Hamilton on a ten, baby, gonna get you straight
      But Jackson on a twenty is really great
      And if you’re talkin’ about a poor man’s friend
      Grant will get you out of whatever you’re in”

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