Links 9/21/2021

We get mail:

“Yours truly (Howard Beale IV) will be having a cochlear implant surgery today in Metro Detroit. Good vibes from the NC commentariat welcomed and accepted!” –lambert

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Seven decades of international banking Bank of International Settlements

Welcome to Yosemite, the new Pyrocene Park Wildfire Today and California’s giant sequoias remain safe from growing wildfire Reuters. We should be expanding their range, not merely keeping them safe.

Buildings account for 39% of global greenhouse emissions — that could be an opportunity for investors CNBC

Save the Environment, Save American Democracy Foreign Affairs

Bioterror: the dangers of garage scientists manipulating DNA Izabella Kaminska, FT


The November story Overmatter (UserFriendly). Covid origins round-up. Well-attested. Well worth a read.

SARS-like viruses may jump from animals to people hundreds of thousands of times a year Science. “Daszak says interactions with bats are much more common than people think.” You’d thing Daszak would want to keep his head down.

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Winter is coming, again: What to expect from Covid-19 as the season looms Helen Branswell, STAT

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US to relax air travel restrictions for vaccinated foreign passengers FT

The White House on Monday said travellers would have to show proof of having been fully vaccinated and a negative test taken in the previous three days, starting in early November. They will also have to wear a mask for the journey and to share their telephone number and email address for contact tracing.

This policy strikes me as a recipe for letting new variants into the country via international air travel, exactly as happened in New York with the original Covid spike (and from New York, the virus spread to the rest of the country). Masking will prevent spread on the aircraft, but an infected traveler can still enter the country. Full vaccination is clearly not enough, since we know that breakthrough infections occur. Our contact tracing system is ludicrously bad. That leaves testing as the single line of defense. Leaving aside the possibility of faked test results, estimates of false negatives for PCR tests range from 20% (infected five days) to 100% (“earlier in infection”), so the “test window” of three days is clearly inadequate, particularly compared to a 14-day quarantine. “Let ‘er rip“!

CDC announces $2.1B investment into infection control, surveillance across healthcare settings Fierce Healthcare. “Bankrolled by the American Rescue Plan, the investments are an effort to stem the spread of emerging infectious diseases like COVID-19 and healthcare-associated infections that have surged over the past year, the agency said.” So what image accompanies the article? Hand-washing. One despairs

Prepped to fail: why countries must learn hard lessons from Covid Telegraph. “[C]ountries’ woeful responses to the Covid pandemic have exposed how these preventive – or public – health systems have been prepped to fail by huge budget cuts. This is quintessentially a neoliberal failure and is common to parties of all political persuasions: centre left and centre right leaders are as likely to take an axe to public health as hard right reactionaries.” From the Torygraph!

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Mayor London Breed criticized by health experts for going maskless in S.F. club: ‘lapse in judgment’ San Francisco Chronicle. “Breed told NBC Bay Area on Friday that her ‘drink was sitting at the table. I got up and started dancing, because I was feeling the spirit. And I wasn’t thinking about a mask. I was thinking about having a good time, and in the process, I was following the health orders.'” I don’t think that “feeling the spirit” would pass muster for the little people. However, Breed is technically correct: “‘Masks may be removed,’ city rules state, ‘while actively eating or drinking at events other than indoor dining, such as live performances and movies.'” That said, photos of the venue, the Black Cat, show a typical dark, airless night club: No windows that can open, no fans visible. Last time I went to a club, I don’t recall HVAC being any sort of priority. I don’t see any CO2 meters, either. And it doesn’t matter if everybody is vaccinated, because as a child of six knows by now, “the vaccinated” can also catch and transmit Covid. So if Breed is at the epicenter of a superspreading event — or even gives the appearance of being so — that’s not a good look, regardless of the letter of the law or her “spirit.” The law might also be rewritten to enforce ventilation requirements, measurable on-site by metering, as opposed to masking alone. Maybe Breed could learn from this and push that.

Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine works in kids ages 5 to 11 AP. Press release, no public data.

Australia and France intensify war of words over cancelled submarine deal FT

The AUKUS Dominoes Are Just Starting to Fall Foreign Policy

How to buy a submarine (2021 edition) Australian Strategic Policy Institute


Evergrande; Mixed signals on regulatory crackdown; AUKUS Sinocism

How it all went wrong in counting votes for key Hong Kong Election Committee poll South China Morning Post

Ancestor worship?


Daw Aung San Suu Kyi has ‘no comment’ on call for war against junta Frontier Myanmar

China Withholds Full Legitimacy From Myanmar Junta: Old Wine in a New Bottle? The Irrawaddy

Myanmar’s extreme Buddhist nationalists Lowy Institute

The secret to advanced fintech in Southeast Asia’s poorest countries Globe_. Rolling out the microloans any day now?

Developmentalisms Phenomenal World

A Hard-Line Conservative Hopes to Be Japan’s First Female Leader NYT. Paragraph 24: “Ms. Takaichi raised eyebrows in 2014 when she posed for photos with Kazunari Yamada, a Holocaust denier who leads the fringe National Socialist Japanese Workers party.”


Covax stalled, India to start vaccine export in October, expects surplus The Indian Express

‘We exhausted our savings to pay the hospital’ People’s Archive of Rural India. From June, still germane. Of course, this would never happen in a First World country like the United States.

HIV Is Africa’s Latest Covid-19 Problem Bloomberg

Food and the struggle for Africa’s sovereignty Africa Is a Country. From March, still germane.


France hopes to salvage EU autonomy from submarine deal wreckage FT. France could unfurl a nuclear umbrella over the EU, should it choose….

Labour’s ruling body passes rule changes mandated by EHRC ahead of conference LabourList. I’m no expert on party politics in the UK, but this looks to me like institututionalizing the machinery used to defenestrate Corbyn.

One who dares wins! SAS needs more posh officers amid influx of working-class recruits because public schools instil the leadership skills required, soldiers say Daily Mail

New Cold War

Central Asia: What Is the Choice? Valdai Discussion Club

The Caribbean

IMF Boosts Venezuelan Foreign Reserves by 83% with $5.1 Bn Injection Venezuelanalydid

Expulsions of Haitian migrants from southern border begin The Hill

Trudeau’s Liberals win Canada election, but miss majority AP. A snap election to win a minority government, good job. And then there’s this:

Biden Administration

Biden’s communication headaches Axios

White House Targets Heat-Related Risk to Indoor, Outdoor Workers Bloomberg. That’s nice. Now take back those drilling permits and leave the oil in the ground.

VA tells veterans discharged under ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ they are eligible for all VA benefits CNN

Audit: Pentagon lags in fight against fraud Roll Call. That’s not a bug. It’s a feature.


With Clinton lawyer charged, the Russiagate scam is now indicted Aaron Maté. (UserFriendly).

Sports Desk

The Huddle Is Gallaudet’s Lasting Mark on Football Washington City Paper

Guillotine Watch

Peter Thiel Gamed Silicon Valley, Donald Trump, and Democracy to Make Billions, Tax-Free Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Landlords Use Secret Algorithms to Screen Potential Tenants. Find Out What They’ve Said About You. Pro Publica

Amazon’s AI Cameras Are Punishing Drivers for Mistakes They Didn’t Make Vice

The Rise of Occupy Wall Street: The Movement Moment That Revived The U.S. Left Independent

The Occupy Wall Street spirit is alive and kicking on Reddit and other social-media platforms MarketWatch. Hmm.

Building a Vision of the Good Life Monthly Review

Antidote du Jour (via):

Bonus Antidote:

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.


  1. c_heale

    The barcodes on gravestones seems a little shortsighted, given that we have difficulty getting the information off floppy discs and punchcards and they are not that old.

      1. Terry Flynn

        Personally I’d have the barcode send them to a Rickroll for being lazy and lacking the will to go seek out my descendants or public records on me.

        1. JohnA

          In France, many gravestones have photographs of the deceased on, which I find a bit spooky. Not sure how QR codes will weather over time and changes in technology. Hieroglyphics of millenia to come?

          1. LifelongLib

            I saw that at an old cemetery here in Hawaii. The photo was partially intact after roughly 100 years. I can’t recall the person’s ethnicity ( possibly Portuguese), but maybe it’s a regional thing, or something more common in the past than now?

    1. hunkerdown

      QR codes can be decoded by hand. The real question, aside from unaccountable taste, is whether long hoo dot net will still be sensible in the long now not net.

      1. Acacia

        Yeah, but “404 Not Found” on a phone screen, because some heir didn’t pay the service provider to keep the QR code alive? Man, that’s a lot more sad than moss and dirt on the headstone.

      2. ArvidMartensen

        When the human species has joined Ozymandias, and the next evolutionary intelligent species digs up one of these gravestones, the language of the barcode will be just as incomprehensible/crackable to them as Japanese or English.
        Hopefully there will be a Rosetta Stone like object somewhere to help them.
        Maybe that’s the only way to achieve immortality, write decode instructions on a few stone tablets.

    2. The Rev Kev

      Meanwhile, with a rudimentary knowledge of Latin, people can read the gravestones of ancient Romans from 2,000 years ago in places like the Appian Way-

      ‘Ancient Roman tombstones were more descriptive, often featuring lengthy epitaphs, describing the deceased person’s life, achievements or personality, offered bits of philosophy, or recorded a message that he or she wished to leave for posterity. Those funerary inscriptions preserved data about the lives, achievements, and aspirations of average Romans.’

      Anybody think that they will still be using QR codes in 2,000 years time? Meanwhile, people will still be reading those Roman headstones.

      1. albrt

        They’ve been in use for around 20 years, so I would say they will be obsoleted by the latest tech any day now.

          1. Yves Smith

            That is false. I evaluated QR codes in 1993 as a technology when a consultant to a VC which had Soros Fund Management as its main investor. We did not invest precisely because bar codes had just become established. Even though this technology (which BTW was also not called QR codes then) was clearly superior to bar codes, no one was gonna ditch their investment in bar code scanners to adopt QR readers. This happened to be true even in factories, where the advantage was clearest. Uptake was not at all fast.

      2. DJG, Reality Czar

        Rev Kev: Years ago, I was in the little civic museum of Narni, in Umbria. (The connection to C.S. Lewis is much debated, although Narni has been around a lot longer than he has.)

        As you mention, the information is well chosen and telling on Roman tombstones:

        Hygiae / Autroniae Fortunat(ae) / opstetrici / fecit Fidus / filius./

        La lastra con iscrizione funeraria fu apprestata da Autronia Fortunata, di professione ostetrica, dal figlio Fidus. Il testo è preceduto dalla dedica ad Hygia, dea della salute.

        Meaning: Honoring the goddess Hygeia, and for Autronia Fortunata, Midwife, her son Fidus, had this made.

        Which blew away the idea that Roman women lived in the shadows, had no authority, and wielded no economic power. [Hobbyhorses of U.S. feminists.] Heck, what was the darned Fidus doing spending money in honor of his distinguished mother?

        1. The Rev Kev

          I was watching a documentary about the Romans by the Classicist Mary Beard last year and she made the same point. That Roman women could be quite successful as revealed by their headstones.

          Puts me in mind of how we don’t even understand the women of only 130 years ago. A Karolina Żebrowska video (good channel)-

 (2:05 mins)

          1. BillS

            Fulvia, third wife of Mark Anthony, led an army against Octavian (the future Emperor Augustus) to defend the position her husband (who was off bonking Cleopatra). She ended up losing the Perusine War, but for a while, she was the most powerful person in Rome. She died in exile, some say of a broken heart from Mark Anthony’s betrayal.

        2. Soredemos

          Wait, how is this evidence that a woman had power? Because her *son* commissioned a tombstone for her?

          Anyway, I’ve never heard anyone claim that Roman women had no power or influence. In fact I’ve always heard the exact opposite, that Roman women were relatively well positioned, at least in terms of legal rights, in the context of the ancient world. The fact remains that Roman society was explicitly patriarchal, and explicitly condescended to the feminine and considered it wholly inferior to, and subservient to, the masculine.

      3. PlutoniumKun

        Old headstones can be fascinating, I love exploring old graveyards. In the area in Ireland my fathers family are from the local masons used to do elaborate carvings indicating some aspects of a persons life. My favourite shows a man ploughing a field in a top hat and suit. Apparently, a common prize in the late 18th century for ploughing competitions was a brand new suit, so this seems to have been his proudest moment. Many of course are quite sad, especially when you see lists of children who died young. You also get fascinating histories in Anglican cathedrals – some in Ireland have elaborate inscriptions for old soldiers featuring long forgotten battles in China, India and… yes, Afghanistan. Lismore Cathedral in County Waterford has some glorious examples.

        I also love the use of hanzi and kanji in tombstones, especially when they use very simple inscriptions to describe often untranslatable concepts. My favourite is the tombstone of the film maker Yasujiro Ozu which has the simple kanji for ‘mu’, which is (very roughly) ‘nothiness’, but in the context of his films, means so much more (and less, as he would no doubt add).

        1. Soredemos

          “Widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest and most influential filmmakers, Ozu’s work has continued to receive acclaim since his death. In the 2012 Sight & Sound poll, Ozu’s Tokyo Story was voted the third-greatest film of all time by critics world-wide. In the same poll, Tokyo Story was voted the greatest film of all time by 358 directors and film-makers world-wide.”

          God, critics and filmmakers are so pretentious. I appreciate what Tokyo Story was doing and saying, but it’s a tedious slog of a movie.

          1. norm de plume

            Yay! Someone else who found Tokyo Story interminable. A worthy movie but surely not the best ever. It is one of the 10 films I borrowed from my local arthouse video/DVD rentals shop 3 months ago before the current lockdown and I’ve still got ’em, being unable to venture further than 5 kms (it is 6km away). TS is the only one I didn’t finish. With perhaps a month before the lockdown lifts I have plenty of time to watch the rest, but I’m in no hurry. Maybe Diary of a Chambermaid again instead…

    3. Mantid

      And in the future, the “code” is hacked, spammed, ransomed….. (your imagined video here). I say let the person “rest in peace”.

    4. Josef K

      The gravestone in the foreground being scanned is of a “victim of the Nanjing Massacre.” Interesting that of all the gravestones in all the graveyards in the world…..

    5. Anony

      I don’t know the prevalence of QR codes on tombstones, but the picture used to illustrate the point are obviously just placards in a Nanjing Massacre memorial site. They’re not attached to the ground.

      I think it’s pretty stupid from a display design perspective. The QR code takes people away from the moment they’re experiencing IRL and back to their phones. They could just have a physical placard with immediately accessible writings and images.

  2. jr

    re: QRC codes for the dead

    I think this is a horrid idea, personally. If I wished to visit the grave of a loved one, the last thing I would want to see are rows upon rows of QRC codes. It’s like shopping at Wal-mart. If you want to see the videos etc. have a small kiosk or something but this is grotesque. Dehumanizing even death.

    1. Basil Pesto

      I don’t really see the need for pearl-clutching over it, to be honest. Although, yes, they are certainly ugly, but you should be able to have the QR codes much smaller and less prominent. Based on the description of their purpose, it seems to be literally the exact opposite of – it’s a normal grave, with a hyperlink (QR code) to more information about that person’s life. Would anyone care if there were little biographical pamphlets next to head stones that one could take, if families had such material to supply and were willing to do so? Seems like a potentially nice, educational, humanising thing :~) just hope there isn’t any grift involved somewhere along the line.

      1. jr

        Spare me. For one, they aren’t small and tucked away, they are the size of a newspaper. But even if they were less obtrusive, they insert an unnecessary and sterile image into what should be a tableau of serenity. I don’t think your comparison holds. A pamphlet would be a thousand times better, you would actually have to read it without the intermediary of your fricking phone for one thing and it wouldn’t make your grave look like the back of a juice carton. Maybe the family could sell ad space as well? That has probably already happened somewhere.

        A gravestone isn’t merely a cork-board upon which to post messages. It is a symbol, of human mortality, of loss, of grief, and even of triumph. It notes the passing of a miracle, a life, and inserting the mere convenience of a QRC code wrecks that symbolism, at least for me. But then, we live in an age of degraded symbolism: Buddha t-shirts, chakra air fresheners for one’s car, crucifixes on bumper stickers. With symbolism, the medium is as important as the message. That’s why there is no plastic on my altar, it’s too fake, too contrived.

        What meaning does a QRC code convey, other than it’s mundane information? I’ll tell you: commodification. Whether or not it is actually is intended that way, to be clear.

        1. dday

          Selling ad space might be the solution to untended gravesites, similar to how cities have plaques on street medians about the Rotary Club is in charge of cleaning this stretch of roadway.
          Or ever notice how many new buildings are named after corporate titans.

        2. coboarts

          I would say the intent is the dehumanization and commodification of life. I wonder if ants record the lives and times of their workers and soldiers.

        3. Soredemos

          I find myself agreeing with Basil. I understand an instinctive revulsion at the QR codes, but upon closer examination I’m having trouble explaining why it’s supposed to be so insane. If the argument is that the information could potentially be lost, well, more than 99% of people don’t speak Latin. Those old Latin inscriptions have also been rendered inscrutable to most people. You either need to hope there’s a plaque with a translation, find someone who speaks it, or…scan it with your phone and put it through a translation app. The same can be said for archaic hanzi/kanji readings. I’m not saying the QR codes are a good thing, but I’m also having trouble explaining specifics of why they’re so horrible.

        4. Basil Pesto

          A pamphlet would be a thousand times better, you would actually have to read it without the intermediary of your fricking phone for one thing

          I don’t see how. A pamphlet you can pick up, chuck it in your backpack, “oh yeah, I’ll read that later” and never get around to it – it’s ephemera. Though it could become a nice souvenir down the road (I have loads of travel ephemera). If you’re taking the time to proactively follow a link to read, on the spot, some biographical information (whether it’s an ordinary person who perished at Nanking, or Oscar Wilde, or whomever), then you’re taking an immediate, proactive interest in that person’s life. It’s still not really clear to me how that isn’t the exact opposite of dehumanising, regardless of whether phones are involved.

          A paper pamphlet would have to be replenished, would need protection from the elements, etc. A QR link would last as long as the website hosting the info is around (or paid for, I guess). A book like urblintz’ (I like this one) will probably last longer and mean more to its owner – but it requires a certain level of preparedness and foreknowledge that not all visitors are likely to have, and such a book is probably more likely to draw attention to the famous (and infamous) deceased based on the interests of the author, than the rank and file based on the research done by their families (and the actual undertaking of this family-scale amateur history seems worthy of praise in itself! If such an initiative encourages that, that seems good. on the other hand, such external sites of information could also be cynically used for the propagation of propaganda). On the flipside, non-phone-havers would be disadvantaged with a lack of access to this information – unless there were QR codes and pamphlets :o

          What meaning does a QRC code convey, other than it’s mundane information? I’ll tell you: commodification. Whether or not it is actually is intended that way, to be clear.

          What an unexpectedly post-modern flourish! That to me feels like a confirmation of your own weltanschauung rather than a meaningful observation, although a fairly understandable one, I guess (although, aren’t tombstones literally commodities?). My own experience of QR codes, though, is pretty much completely ignoring them until last year, when we were required to use them upon entering retailers, businesses etc., so we could enter our contact details in order to assist contact tracers (a paper guestbook is also provided for non-phone users). So I associate them with something useful and beneficial to the community, but still recognise them for what they are at the most basic level: an irl hyperlink, which means it could be used for commerce, or public health, or anything, really.

          The aesthetic problem, alas, is intractable. There is a certain vulgarity to them for sure. Maybe someone could invent QR codes that resemble flowers. I feel like it would be better to keep trad tombstones, but have a discreet code placed near the foot of the grave, for those families who’ve done their little bit of amateur history and would like to share it to educate further generations/curious passers by. Even better still might be to have a directory at the cemetery’s administrative centre that visitors can look up, and people can make a code linking to further information available there. On the other hand, I can see why people might want to reflect on the deceased’s life at the gravesite, rather than indoors away from it.

          There’s the larger question about what cemeteries are, and what weight we want to give the aesthetic above other functions (cultural, educational), and how prescriptive we want cemetery aesthetics to be (although it has to be said that no one’s making the argument that these putative QR gravestones are ‘corkboards for leaving messages’, I don’t think). I don’t really have an answer to that, and answers will probably differ as well depending on where someone is from (east Asian cemeteries and attitudes to the dead are notably different to western ones, I gather)

          Pros and cons, but I don’t think it’s a bad idea per se, and could see how it could be quite a positive thing, on balance.

          1. jr

            The aesthetic problem is the entire problem because it annihilates the symbolism, I thought I made that rather plain. It makes a sacred place look like a supermarket of death. It ruins the “atmosphere”. It inserts technology where it needn’t be, again the same goals could be accomplished with an unobtrusive kiosk at the front gate. Or put a small number on each plot and you can look it up in the app, sigh.

            Have your QR code if the convenience is so profoundly important, just not in my face. That was my point about the “corkboard”. It turns the sacred into a mere conveyance for information. It is literally the language of a computer in the place of human language. The two cannot be equated, one is a mere convenient transfer of information, the other is that and so much more. The images of words, even ignoring their message, have meaning by virtue of being intimately human. That’s why when Lovecraft uses the word “cyclopean”, it lands. It has both meaning and it looks good too.

            I actually would prefer a language I didn’t understand to those horrors. That’s why a pamphlet would be better, you don’t have to pass through the gateway of some alien looking code to get the information. Again, dehumanizing, adding in technology where it needn’t be. I wonder who is making a buck off of it, or a yen, or whatever.

            If I had a loved one’s grave surround by that dystopian landscape, I’d have them exhumed. I don’t get your “post-modern” comment but then I know little about that. As for tombstones being commodities, that’s incorrect in the sense that although the stone and work involved are commodified, the symbolism that it presents is most certainly not. It points to something beyond such mundanities, or should. The fact that this is even a question is, for me, disheartening.

            But then, why am I surprised? We live in a time where my ice tea bottle offers philosophical maxims and my oat-milk carton tells me to “dance often”, where McDonald’s brings families together and bags of cookies enjoin me to live life to the fullest. This is just one more degradation on a long list.

            “That to me feels like a confirmation of your own weltanschauung rather than a meaningful observation, although a fairly understandable one”

            So one’s worldview is without meaning? Others may disagree with one’s worldview but that doesn’t make it meaningless. And if it is meaningless, then how is it understandable? Can we understand meaningless things? To understand something is, in fact, to say it has meaning. Can you clarify?

            1. Basil Pesto

              But I mean, you don’t really need the presence of qr codes to compare a cemetery to a ‘supermarket of death’ – spatially, the similarities are pretty obvious. It’s not a comparison I would make myself because even I’m not that bleak and, beyond the superficial similarities, it doesn’t actually make any sense – and that still applies if you add QR codes that link to biographical information about the deceased! If the QR codes took you to a page where you could use Apple Pay to purchase exhumation rights to use the decomposed human remains to improve your soil (wait, maybe I am that bleak), then yes, maybe “supermarket of death” would make a bit more sense.

              I don’t see how it literally “annihilates” the symbolism, although I can see how it could cheapen or vulgarise it depending on how it’s implemented. Which is why if it were to be done, I would prefer something more discreet that what’s pictured in the tweet above.

              As for tombstones being commodities, that’s incorrect in the sense that although the stone and work involved are commodified, the symbolism that it presents is most certainly not.

              So the end result of the combination of commodity (stone, labour) and technology (tools) is something that transcends those necessary prerequisites – I agree. How is the potential use of the qr code different, besides looking rather naff? In fact, it could be less of a commodity than the headstone – assuming that the labour in the form of the obituary/historical information on the other end of it is given voluntarily (the example in the tweet appears to be a local gov’t information initiative, but my contention is that conceptually there’s potential for ordinary families and amateur historians to provide information about their ancestors, in a way that is both humanising and informative).

              I wonder who is making a buck off of it, or a yen, or whatever

              Well, I did address the potential for grift, but as it stands there’s no evidence that any such buckmaking is taking place (and it doesn’t necessarily have to, though in a western political economy it easily could and probably would). So then; a stonemason can make a buck from his craft and (rudimentary) information dissemination (Basil Pesto, b: 1988 d: 2022, *shaka emoji*) and that’s fine because it contributes to a symbology that you approve of, but a hypothetical amateur historian’s craft and information dissemination (assuming that’s what we’re dealing with on the other end of the code), presumably provided to the public for free and purely for the sake of sharing information (the web host might make a buck but then, I don’t think grave plots are always free either) is to be treated with disdain because it incorporates a symbology that you don’t approve of? And that’s supposed to be persuasive?

              What if it wasn’t a QR code, what if it was some otherwise completely discreet, invisible but still machine-readable thing that linked on your screen to a .pdf (and say the .pdf is exactly what a paper pamphlet/booklet equivalent would be printed off from?

              So one’s worldview is without meaning?

              no, but as a framework for understanding it makes us vulnerable to biases and rationalisation and unreasonable tendentiousness. If you have a generally techno-dystopian view of the world – which, again, fair enough – and qr codes give you the heeby jeebies as a result, then you’re more likely to say something like:

              What meaning does a QRC code convey, other than it’s mundane information? I’ll tell you: commodification. Whether or not it is actually is intended that way, to be clear.

              and write something about machine codes being alien and dehumanising (even if the purpose of their use, and the information they lead to, is literally the exact opposite). My post-modern tease was directed at the bolded bit because that sounds like a generically post-modernist remark – or, if you like, an everyday wokester remark; intent doesn’t matter, the thing means what I say it means. I found it wryly amusing because I know from enjoying your posts in the past that you hold such intolerant thought in low regard.

              I can’t really clarify the rest because I don’t understand your questions with regards to what I’ve written. Perhaps I can clarify that when I said “fairly understandable”, I was referring to the weltanschauung itself. I would probably also edit “meaningful observation” to “necessarily truthful observation” and cross my fingers that the consequence of that clarification isn’t follow-up questions of the “but what is truth, really?” sort.

      2. Hambone Steve

        Capitalism and its demands dictate that all those QR codes will link to dead web addresses, even assuming the QR format survives. The threat of all links becoming dead is a necessary ingredient of the capitalist internet economic ecosystem just as homelessness is for the housing one.

        Every citizen should have their own personal permanent webspace that cannot ever be taken from them. We already have the data centers.

        1. coboarts

          You guys must be getting the vibe from my intended obsidian pyramid. The one I want to build at Mesa Redonda, a little south and east of Tijuana. The modelling of the structure will begin once the current series of projects I have is completed. Whether I will build it as I imagine, in this world, is unimportant to me. The Art is not so bounded. I will continue the work as it’s the logical next step in the process.

        1. John Beech

          My family practices burial after cremation with a bronze plaque, which has a vase inverted, which you withdraw and place upright for flowers. Me? I see no possible harm in a QR code, which future family members may use to learn a bit about their antecedents. After all, how much do you know about your great, great grandmother? How much do you children know? What about their children? Anything? Anything at all? Thus, it actually strikes me as quite nice this prospect of attending grave day and being able to pull up photos and documents. Be that as it may, this is just ‘my’ opinion, me an ordinary ornery guy, one who in common with many other old men generally doesn’t like change – but – who embraces this innovation as a good idea. Hmmm, could it be because I have some Asian blood coursing through my veins? That wouldn’t bother me in the least.

          1. Darthbobber

            Ultimately its a matter of personal taste. Though long-term I suspect the collapse of a lot of techie social infrastructure may cause these things to be functionlessness in 50 years or so.

          2. juno mas

            Will you embrace the idea when the grave next to your kin has a QR code that links to a loud music video? While graveyards are not technically public spaces, it seems these phone-captured QR links could make them feel more like a piazza than a place of contemplation.

  3. Ian Perkins

    Bioterror: the dangers of garage scientists manipulating DNA

    I don’t often find myself sharing the concerns of Tony Blair and Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, but it seems inevitable that sooner or later there will be some kind of incident involving DIY genetic manipulation. ‘“If bioterrorists wanted to do it undetected, they could buy a second-hand DNA synthesiser for $2,000. The whole process would cost $10,000 and could be done in a kitchen,” he [Australian biohacker Paul Dabrowa] says.’ And it needn’t be bioterrorists, just someone doing something with unintended consequences.

    1. Watt4Bob

      I remember reading about a doctor who received a call from a Texan parent asking what dosage of HGH (Human Growth Hormone) he should use on his 12 year old son. His intent being to assure his kid would be a good football prospect.

      The doctor noted the parent wasn’t concerned about whether this was a good idea, only how much HGH to use.

      1. Wukchumni

        My soon to be 14 year old nephew has an extra chromosome which causes those with Klinefelter Syndrome to be tall among other symptoms. He’s 6’4 on his way to 7 feet. Mom is 5’3 and dad is 5’8.

        He was briefly the same size foot as me, and I lent him a pair of hiking boots with the proviso he give them back to me after he outgrew them…

              1. John Zelnicker

                @Ian Perkins
                September 21, 2021 at 11:46 am

                As I remember it, Wilt’s boast was 10,000, which would take over 27 years at one per day.

          1. griffen

            Wilt was a star at the college level, matriculating to KU in Lawrence, Kansas. In the ultimate test of the then NCAA tournament, Kansas faced UNC-CH for all the marbles in the national title game. Chamberlain went to center court for the jump ball to begin the game, and facing him for the jump ball was 5’11” Tommy Kearns who started at guard for UNC. I believe that Kansas entered the game as the slight favorite, against a then-undefeated Tar Heel team.

            UNC won in a thriller, finally defeating Kansas in triple overtime. Wilt had incredible success in the NBA, except for some team from Boston always in the way.

    2. Michaelmas

      FT article: ‘“If bioterrorists wanted to do it undetected, they could buy a second-hand DNA synthesiser for $2,000.”

      This was true already eighteen years ago back in 2003, when a university lab synthesized the polio virus from scratch, FFS!. Furthermore, the feat of home genetic engineering that the FT reporter features is this fellow Dabrowa making beer glow. In fact, injecting the gene for luciferase as a marker into DNA (or merely a compound) is the first thing any beginner gets taught to do in Synthetic Biology 101. It’s not even amateur hour, let alone an ominous feat of biohacking.

      The FT reporter has omitted other critical facts.

      In the case of the polio virus in 2003, forex, what the university lab actually did was order it to be synthesized in two halves from two different gene synthesis companies, and then spliced them together. The university lab did not have the in-house capability to synthesize the two halves themselves.

      And that’s the way things still work today for all except the big corporate and government biolabs, who can afford in-house DNA synthesis capability equivalent to the big custom DNA synthesis houses. In most labs, the scientists work up a sequence then send it to a DNA synthesis house, which synthesizes the specified oligos, then sends them back by FedEX (yes) or similar the next day.

      Here’s the most critical fact that the FT reporter didn’t cover: every oligo order synthesized by a big DNA synthesis house is matched by computer analysis against the sequences of known dangerous pathogens. (Theoretically, I guess, you might be able to sneak through pieces of a totally novel designer pathogen).

      To the question of second-hand DNA synthesizers for sale online at sites like eBay (yes) and LabX —

      No question but second-hand DNA synthesizers’ capabilities have advanced. But there’s still no way anybody can use one in a garage to synthesize, say, the Ebola virus — about 180,000 base pairs, IIRC — from scratch. Let alone splice the Ebola into something like a flu virus or COVID19 genome — which would essentially act as the vector for the Ebola — to form what’s called a binary inoculary. (If you want something genuinely scary.)

      As far as using a $2,000 second-hand synthesizer to recreate smallpox from cowpox, something like that’s simpler but still extremely unlikely. It would be much easier to use your grand-dad’s conventional bioengineering to do that (though still hard). As the FT article itself notes —

      some of the riskier research with dual-use potential that has been happening in formal academic institutions for years. Much of this is not reliant on modern genetic advances and … sometimes require little more than an automatic self-sealing door, gloves and an autoclave machine or air pump.


      Also from the FT article: 71 per cent of surveyed practitioners did not know the definition of “dual-use research of concern” and another 61 per cent did not know the definition of “dual use”.

      It’s all dual use, when you can manipulate vital biological processes — that’s the power of the technology. Which would mean those 71 percent of surveyed practitioners and the other 61 percent are uneducated and stupid. (Except given that 71 and 61 add up to, hmm, 132 percent, it may again just be the FT reporter who’s incompetent)

      This isn’t to say that the advance of this technology isn’t potentially catastrophic. But the risks of bioterrorism are slight next to the potential of novel bioweapons created by governments and big institutions.

      Because the future of bioweaponeering is not to create new forms of lethality; things like nuclear bombs and MOAB will always be far quicker and more reliable for that. However, the aim of any military action is ultimately to change the enemy’s behavior. And designer pathogens have unprecedented capability for that because in principle anything you can do with a drug you can do with a pathogen — create temporary or permanent amnesia, schizophrenia, fear, etc. or, alternatively, manipulate an enemy population’s longterm survivability by doing things like causing cancers via germline pathogenic variants, etc, etc.

  4. Jessica

    The gravestone with the QR code that is largest and most legible in the picture says that the person died in the Nanking Massacre.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      My mandarin isn’t up to much, but from what I can see its more of a general memorial to the victims of the massacre than an individuals gravestone?

      1. Jessica

        Could be. I didn’t see a name on that gravestone. In Mandarin, you can mark plural or singular but often don’t. (You know that.)

        1. PlutoniumKun

          My very limited reading ability always hits a full stop when I have to work out whether I’m looking at vocabulary or a name. I’m intrigued now, I must show that to one of my Chinese friends to translate properly – one has family from Nanjing. She told me the massacres were never mentioned in her school until the late 1990’s when China had a falling out with Japan. For whatever reason it was hidden away even in China for several decades.

          My guess is that these tombstones are for unmarked graves for victims, with no doubt a suitable version of history downloadable.

          1. Anony

            They are not tombstones and are not firmly attached to the ground. There is no names or any writing that would typically show up on a tombstone or even in a permanent marker for a memorial. It’s just a tombstone shaped display placard and a pretty badly designed one in my opinion.

            I also note that an ASPI link was included without comment about how it’s funded (largely by US government and US defense industry) and their track record. It’s not a credible source of information.

      1. ambrit

        And how soon before “The Ministry of Truth” is legally entrusted with the ‘retrofitting’ of those codes?

    2. Josef K

      Yes, and notice what’s visible on the middle one–only “massacre” at the end, but 惨案 rather than 屠殺, which is I believe part of the Najing Massacre set phrase, but also more visceral a term than the former. The middle one referring then to a different massacre.

      On the middle stone, a the bottom, in red “set our humiliation in stone, my generation will strive to improve itself.” That’s a positive aspect of the zeitgeist in the mainland. More power to them.

  5. DJG, Reality Czar

    Well, the Aaron Maté story is a saga one amazing manipulation after another. I am not giving “credulous journalists” much credence, though. I have a feeling that they had inklings of who they were dealing with.

    And there’s a cameo by Big Jim Comey, defender of democracy.

    How is it possible that Bill&Hill have any credibility whatsoever? Is it truly that we are at a stage where it is Eternal High School Cliques and politics as team sports?

    Bill and Hill as prom king and prom queen? No wonder the Empire is fraying. The guys in Afghanistan who want to establish an emirate are much more serious about things (admittedly, far too serious about things) than either of the Clintons. Hmmm. That may be the secret of the recent reversal of fortunes there.

    Read to the end…

    Wowsers, as we say around here.

    1. Arizona Slim

      In the book Shattered, there was a Russiagate origin story that featured a post-campaign discussion in a room full of Shake Shack containers. The people in the room were trying to find something! anything! to blame for the election results. And Russia! Russia! Russia! was it.

    2. Ian Perkins

      How is it possible that Bill&Hill have any credibility whatsoever?

      “Predictably, the same media voices who parroted the Alfa Bank story and countless other Russia fantasies throughout the Trump era have now fallen silent or continued obfuscating.” If and when these media voices do mention these developments, many won’t look beyond the headlines, taking the stories as confirmation that Russia did intervene in US elections, or perhaps that the Dems bent a few rules in acquiring their evidence. If you’re already convinced Russia is an evil malign influence, and the Demoncratic Party the road to salvation, any mention of Russia is easily seen as just more evidence something must have been going on.

      1. Bill Smith

        This opinion writer never mentions in any way how the Alfa Bank story was just made up by these people. But it is an opinion piece.

    3. LawnDart

      As we will turn to in the second part of this report, coming later this week, Sussmann’s role in the Alfa Bank fabrication raises new questions about the allegation at the heart of the Trump-Russia scandal: the claim that Russia stole emails from the Democratic Party and gave them to Wikileaks in a covert operation to help Trump’s campaign.

      Old news to those who’ve paid some attention, but VIPS had some early insight on this particular allegation, maintaining that the emails were leaked, not hacked:

      Hillary Clinton did far more to poison the well-spring of trust in this country, and to corrode any confidence the public had in the government (“the,” not “our’), than most (s)elected officials. I did not applaud the Trump victory in 1016, but I sure as hell rejoiced in Clinton’s defeat.

      As Sun Tzu said, “Wheels of justice grind slow but grind fine.” And I hope that the cackling sleaze sooner than later finds herself in the path of this Sussmann steamroller, and that her fans/followers, abandoning her, can learn from their errors.

      That said, I can’t wait for part II of this story!

      1. Acacia

        One cool thing about a QR code on Hill’s future headstone is that the server could get hacked and the url redirected to another much more “fun” address.

        1. Questa Nota

          You’d find no shortage of people volunteering to wipe her headstone, with a cloth, to erode the name from memory.

    4. chuck roast

      Note the prominent role for The Atlantic magazine stenographers who greased the skids for this monumental scam and secured their economic futures in service of the oligarchs. I still mark the day that Mortimer Zuckerman sold that wonderful olde abolitionist rag as a milestone in the steep descent of popular writing and journalism in my lifetime. It would be a bleak landscape indeed if it weren’t for the glamour of all the self-shining turds.

  6. Ian Perkins

    The secret to advanced fintech in Southeast Asia’s poorest countries Globe_. Rolling out the microloans any day now?

    Cambodia’s been flooded with microloans for a while now. “The average microloan borrower in Cambodia has $3,800 worth of debt, the highest in the world.” Selling off land to repay the debts is common, and the economic consequences of COVID haven’t helped any. “In April 2020, the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation (IFC) pumped $50 million into two prominent microfinance providers in Cambodia, Amret and Hattha Kaksekar Limited, despite recent studies raising serious questions about the sustainability and ethics of the sector’s lending practices, mainly accusations that microfinance lenders have forced clients to sell land (their collateral) to pay off debt.” – The lenders claim that defaulting borrowers aren’t usually foreclosed on, but these may be weasel words, with defaulters encouraged to sell land to avoid formal foreclosure proceedings.

    1. Acacia

      Back in the day, wasn’t Obama’s mom working hard on micro loans in Indonesia — kind of a “Microeconomic Hit Woman”, avant la letter?

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Developmentalisms Phenomenal World

    This is a dense read, but fascinating for anyone interested in the history of Asian economic development. It explains very clearly why both nominally right wing capitalist (ROK; Taiwan; Japan) and socialist/communist (China; Vietnam) have at different stages of development followed policies that look remarkably similar.

    Yet the legacy of the East Asian variant of State Socialism, with its dedication to the cause of industrialization combined with near total neglect for social welfare, haunts the region. Worker protests continued to grow throughout the 1980s–90s. Recent decades have seen the institutionalization of comprehensive systems of medical insurance, and increased resources devoted to environmental protection. Understanding the origins of East Asian developmentalism allows us to effectively situate these efforts within a broader struggle for development, and to see how East Asia, often thought of as an exception, is but an integral part of the global evolution of economic policy.

    Both emphasise State directed development generally at the expense of social protection. It is ironic that the nominally right wing states have often developed far better social protection nets than the nominally socialist ones. Maybe its a reflection of their relative levels of development, or maybe it just reflects the reality that they are pursuing very similar economic and social strategies, with the ideological differences often little more than a superficial label.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Thanks for that, it looks fascinating.

        As Keynes said, we are all to some extent the slave of some defunct economist. Its amazing how the economic ideas behind such diverse countries in Asia can be traced back to a comparatively small coterie of men in the 19th Century.

        1. R

          You should also check out Shimomuran economics:

          Shimomura was responsible for the Bank of Japan’s coy description of government-created money as “the people’s savings” in its balance sheet. :-) The US over time pressured them into abandoning this stance.

  8. Ian Perkins

    Central Asia: What Is the Choice?

    The article manages not to mention the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Of the central Asian countries named, only Turkmenistan is not a member. Three of its members, China, Russia and Iran, are subject to Western sanctions and general bullying, and the rest are wedged in between, with no direct access to ports. Even if they’d like investment and infrastructure from the West, the logistics look difficult. The choice seems likely to be their neighbours and fellow members.

  9. griffen

    Peter Thiel comes across as a hard wired Libertarian idealist. Conveniently for him, his wealth has been largely tax advantaged to this point within a Roth IRA. The legality of what’s he done to initially fund that account was covered before, maybe 6 or 7 months ago.

    He does keep interesting company, you have to grant him that. Especially the candidates for office he is reported to finance. That’s a compelling read.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    The November story Overmatter (UserFriendly).

    This is very interesting, and it does seem to tie up a lot of the mysteries about the spread. Chinese friends I spoke to when Covid first appeared were convinced that it had been spreading earlier, there were lots of stories about a ‘particularly nasty flu’ going around in December. One acquaintance of mine even closed down her shop in Dublin Airport in late December after all her staff (all Chinese) fell ill simultaneously. All anecdote of course and there are counter-arguments.

    The one thing it leaves out is the Wuhan Military Games in October 2019 – there are lots of suggestions from athletes that there were unusual restrictions in the city at the time (although I doubt they would have been familiar with what is ‘normal’ in China). That would seem the most likely source of a spread (if it occurred) to countries like Brazil and Italy so early.

    It does seem very clear thought that not just the Chinese, but medical/intelligence authorities worldwide had an inkling something was happening well before January 2020. One wonders how many emails have been quietly deleted.

    1. Louis Fyne

      If only someone had a facility in Utah that scoops up and stores literally every unencrypted (and maybe encrypted?) bit of international communication :)

      to put a tin foil hat on. maybe the NSA has such email…..but won’t release such info as it would “reveal intelligence capabilities” (or some bureaucratic excuse like that)

      1. Plutoniumkun

        Or perhaps it would reveal just how little they really know about what happens in China. Its one thing to hoover up data, its quite another thing to know how to interpret mountains of communications.

        1. ambrit

          That is one giant complex. Add in quantum computing capabilities, and super folding of codes, and we get close to an information event horizon.
          Then again, considering the nature of “back doors” in ‘public’ systems, the entire “cloud” could be considered as a centrally manipulable data base.

        2. hunkerdown

          The XKeyScore mass deep packet inspection system, of which there are several installations around the world, have fairly small buffers, as short as 1-5 days for content depending on hit rate and traffic level, as much as 30 days for metadata. What’s determined to be interesting goes into other systems for further handling and/or the exabyte-scale “company store” for long-term storage and indexing, for such period and purposes as the law authorizes. (Loophole: If it’s encrypted, they can keep it forever as “technical data”.)

    2. MP

      I think it’s kind of 9/11-esque in that we don’t need the planes to be missiles or controlled demolition for the truth to be bad enough (ie: Foreknowledge from Mossad, CIA, Saudis). The US government knew in January and dumped stocks, then continued to bungle the mitigation for profit. Bad enough where I find the lab leak to be a bit of a distraction.

    3. Nick

      Not to speak to anything else in this but I was in Wuhan, and elsewhere in China, for much of November and December 2019 and I did not observe any unusual restrictions.

  11. Eduardo

    LONDON, Sept 21 (Reuters) – British police said on Tuesday a third Russian had been charged in absentia with the 2018 Novichok murder attempt on former double agent Sergei Skripal, saying they could also now confirm the three suspects were military intelligence operatives.
    Reuters: The third man: UK charges another Russian for nerve attack on double agent

    I wonder why now?

    Could it be to distract from “With Clinton lawyer charged, the Russiagate scam is now indicted“?

      1. Polar Socialist

        If you read the ECHR statement instead of the news, you’ll find out that ECHR ruled nothing like that. They just affirmed that Russian officials should have collaborated with the UK hearing in the matter because UK investigators did establish reasonable suspicion that Russian citizens residing in Russia were involved.

        They also ruled that Russia should pay Litvinov’s widow’s legal expenses, but denied the penalty fee she demanded.

        1. The Rev Kev

          Have you a link for that ECHR statement handy? Nearly every newspaper story comes out with the same story – that Russia did it. Certainly the fact that they want Russia to pay Litvinov’s widow’s legal expenses would be an admission of guilt on their part – which would open them up to even more legal charges. The ECHR would not say that unless they regarded Russia as being guilty as part of their judgment

          1. Ian Perkins

            (I’ve left the funny spacing to make it easier to search.)

            The Court found it established, beyond reasonable doubt, that the assassination had been carried
            out by Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun.

            As to whether Mr Lugovoy and Mr Kovtun had acted as agents of the respondent State, the Court
            found that there was no evidence that either man had had any personal reason to kill Mr Litvinenko
            and that, if acting on their own behalf, they would not have had access to the rare radioactive
            isotope used to poison him.

            The Court held that Russia was to pay the applicant 100,000 euros (EUR) in respect of non-pecuniary
            damage and EUR 22,500 in respect of costs and expenses. It also rejected the applicant’s claim for
            “punitive” damages.

            1. Polar Socialist

              Looks like my legalese has gotten rusty. I just read that they accepted reasonable doubt that warranted Russian cooperation. Silly me.

              But then, I always though the case was so weak no court outside UK would take it seriously.

      2. Basil Pesto

        which happened 15 years ago. They just got around to it now.

        There’s nothing untoward about this. This is the pace the ECHR typically moves at. It’s a slow process, for various reasons.

    1. Ian Perkins

      The two prior suspects, Mishkin and Chepiga, flew to London via Geneva, with only a bare minimum of hand luggage. Apparently, there’s a demand for people experienced in unarmed combat and so on to ferry valuable or important documents around the world to be signed, delivered or whatever, and Geneva’s a popular place for storing such documents, especially when they relate to anything dodgy or secretive. It’s hard to see why martial arts skills would be needed by a poisoner.

    1. Randy

      The War Nerd has an interesting perspective on this in that the blue blood upbringing makes elites insane and disassociated from reality enough that they’re uniquely suited to be military leaders. Not a lot of other people think running up a hill into machine guns is a great idea without needing to be brainwashed in boot camp first.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        A number of military historians have argued that the use of the surplus young men of the lower aristocracy as a particularly well trained and effective form of cannon fodder is deep within European (and arguably Japanese) culture, and a key reason for their military success in the 18th/19th Centuries. It fulfilled the dual role of creating a sub-culture of ruthless self sacrifice, while removing too many claimants to their fathers inheritance.

        Arguably, it was the mass death of those young men in WWI that made the Etonites decide that maybe banking and politics was a better use of their talents. Something similar happened post WWII to the samurai class of Japan.

        1. Louis Fyne

          goes back as far as the Anglo-Normans (probably even further)…..

          Hence you get branches of Normans who make their way to Sicily and other random places and establish kingdoms

          1. PlutoniumKun

            There is a pretty good argument to be made that a good chunk of the worst impulses in European culture (i.e. hyper aggressive militarism and xenophobia) can be traced to the Norman interpretation of feudalism. Even by the standards of the time, they were pretty horrible. They were only interested in absolute power and control of whatever they touched.

        2. Ian Perkins

          removing too many claimants to their fathers inheritance

          It’s also been said it removed many eligible young men from the marriage market, which older male aristocrats saw as being to their advantage one way or another.

      2. The Rev Kev

        There is another possibility. In the 19th century the British used the system of primogeniture with inheritance which meant that with landed families, the eldest son got the lot when the father died as in everything. So younger sons typically went into the Church, the Army or maybe overseas to make their fortunes. But of course families are much smaller now so perhaps there are not that many surplus younger sons about to go into the Army.

        1. Synoia

          SAS needs more posh officers amid influx of working-class recruits because public schools instill the leadership skills required, soldiers say

          Public schools leadership skills: Aka Bullying.

          Who are thees “solders” quoted? Officers (Bullies) or Other ranks?

        2. Eustachedesaintpierre

          Well of course they don’t mention the young upper class twits who were sometimes a real liability as lieutenants within more regular forces – at least according to the 3 generations of NCO’s in my family. Grandad once reported as one of the very few things he said about that war, by telling the story to my Dad of the not at all friendly fire being how one that was considered to be a danger to the men met his end – but perhaps it was just wishful thinking or something from one of his many later nightmares after almost 6 solid years of WW2 that lost him his wife & led him to eventually drown in drink before & after emigrating to Australia a few months before I was born.

          Maybe they want the creme de la creme for the who dares wins crowd who still believe in British exceptionalism, who speak properly & can fit in nicely within the mess without sounding like an oik while leaving the rejects for regular forces, like many incompetent military leader examples going way back.

          I wonder what schools this lot attended –

          1. The Rev Kev

            The story your grandad told has a very old pedigree and incidences of US officers being “fragged” in Vietnam were notorious. But to use a British example, there was a Colonel of a British Regiment during the Crimean war who had a brutal reputation with his men with fierce use of the lash. Before an important battle, the Colonel told his men that he knew that he was hated by them and they wanted to kill him, nonetheless it had to be put off as the battle against the Russian before them had to be won. The battle went ahead and the Regiment managed to beat the Russians off. The Colonel shouted “Hurrah!” and turned around to cheer his men when a single shot rang out and the Colonel dropped dead with a bullet through his head. Promise kept.

            And another story from our g-grandad’s time in WW1. It would not be unknown for an incompetent officer to order a charge against the German machine-guns from the safety of their trenches. At least one time, the men readied themselves to pull themselves up over the trench-walls with that office leading the charge. When the officer blew his whistle and went over the top, the men started to climb – and then dropped back into their trench leaving that idiot officer unknowingly charge the German machine-guns by himself.

        3. Questa Nota

          Now they exercise the option to go into private equity to make their own fortunes and oppress the peasants, er, workers and customers. Canary Wharf and environs present fascinating history, some of which gets memorialized.

        4. VietnamVet

          Being born of younger sons who made their way to Seattle WA and the end of the western frontier, I was stepped in the tradition that the eldest son inherited the farm. That is long gone in Suburbia. Bill Gates is buying the farm. Divide and rule exploitation today uses skin color and dog whistles and ignores ethnicity, society, and the survival of civilization.

          My Mom didn’t speak English until first grade. Yet, when I watch Nordic Noir TV Shows, I read the subtitles. I do not understand a word except for “Okay” and Empire English used to talk to Polish emigrants. “Young Wallander” has an episode about the eldest son solely inheriting a large family business thanks to Swedish tradition and the conflicts that causes.

    2. Kouros

      The Romans have discovered at their peril the consequences of handing the lead of their legions to the scions of the patrician / senatorial class. And this is why they ended up with military men like Marius…

    1. griffen

      Conjures an image from a Mel Brooks movie. “Sheriff murdered? Women and children blown to bits? Gentlemen we must protect our phone baloney jobs!”

      Does not appear the brass at DOD are serious about it. And they’ve no reason, who is turning off the spigot of billions in available funds.

    2. drumlin woodchuckles

      There was a particular time when somebody within the physical Pentagon building seemed very intent on studying the depth and reach of fraud. A part of the building was housing a whole bunch of forensic auditors conducting a very serious study of Pentagon finances. What an amazing coincidence that that should be the exact specific part of the building which the 9/11 attack plane was flown into.

      Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition 2.0 wrote a post about that.

  12. Darthbobber

    Foreign Policy article on AUKUS:

    They fail to mention some of the reactions within the region, including Indonesia and Malaysia, who see this as inaugurating a possible nuclear arms race in the region.

    Many sites point out that it calls into question Australian credibility as a “part of” the region. This, from the Conversation:

    “If anything, the AUKUS move reinforced the widely held perception that Australia’s mantra of being “part of the region” is, in fact, “empty talk”. Australia has firmly signalled its intentions to put its Anglo allies in the US and UK first.”

    “AUKUS also reinforces the view that Australia cannot be accepted as a regional partner or player. This, of course, is nothing new. For years, the ASEAN bloc has seen Australia as “deputy sheriff” to the US, though this view would not necessarily be shared in public.”

    I think they also obscure the causes of worsening Chinese Australian relations. They mention that the various Chinese embargoes were in response to a mere Australian request for an independent COVID origins investigation, but that greatly understates Scotty’s actual proposal and the accompanying rhetoric. He strongly implied Chinese mendacity and called for investigators with “weapons inspector” powers, overriding national sovereignty. This followed on the heels of Australian opining on the internal affairs of China, from Hong Kong to the Uyghurs.

    This “measured step” (toward what coherent goal is unclear) might “complicate” Chinese power projection. In 20 years, which is the earliest that Australia might actually have these submarines. But only on the assumption that AUKUS is actually willing to use those toys for actual confrontations. Which is a bit nerve-wracking to contemplate.

    Interesting that once again such a move was sprung with no perceived need in the US, UK, or Australia to bother with any pretence of parliamentary or congressional involvement.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘For years, the ASEAN bloc has seen Australia as “deputy sheriff” to the US’

      The Prime Minister for Oz – John Howard – at the time after 9/11 actually came out and said he wanted the country to be America’s “deputy sheriff” in the Pacific which went down here like a lead balloon. People could not decide if he was drunk when he said that or high – or both.

      A big deal is being made lately of the Quad but since both Japan and India were totally cut out of negotiations here, they must be wondering what their position actually is. And because of this new pact, it seems that China will now back North Korea more and give them political cover. Probably South Korea is wondering why the US is not offering them nuke subs too. And France seems determined to sink the EU-Australia free trade deal and I cannot blame them.

      And this breaks the international understanding that no non-nuclear countries be offered nuke subs so so much for non-proliferation. Also, this draws a line in the sand that Australia no longer regards itself as part of Asia which we have been working on for forty years but has retreated into an Anglo-Saxon Alliance. This is like one of those Russian Matryoshka dolls where there is layer after layer to be found – and none of it good.

      1. Ian Perkins

        A big deal is being made lately of the Quad

        India’s part of the Quad, but it doesn’t kow-tow to the US the way Oz and the UK do. It’s even part of the SCO, suggesting it’s playing China and the US off against each other, rather than being a staunch enemy of China.

          1. Ian Perkins

            Sure, but I think the US sees it as a rather unreliable ally, more prone to seeing itself as independent and acting accordingly than our two poodle puppet states. India may indeed be acting as the spoiler in the SCO over Afghanistan, but is that because it’s obeying US demands, or because of its own perceived interests?

          2. Darthbobber

            India sees the ISI-Taliban connection, and the Haqqanis, who conducted several attacks on Indian facilities in Kabul, as part of a Pakistani network directed at India. Meanwhile. India’s innocuously named Research and Analysis Wing had connections with the puppet government’s security forces and is suspected (and publicly accused by Pakistan) of supporting Islamic State Afghanistan and one faction of the Pakistan Taliban.

            The Indians would probably have ambitions (likely unrealizable) to play something of a spoiler even without US instigation.

  13. fresno dan

    “Yours truly (Howard Beale IV) will be having a cochlear implant surgery today in Metro Detroit. Good vibes from the NC commentariat welcomed and accepted!” –lambert

    I wish you all the best, successful surgery, speedy recovery, and the greatest of all medical miracles – you don’t get gouged by being charged 54 dollars for styrofoam hospital slippers

    1. The Rev Kev

      I’ll second that sentiment. Hopefully he will be in and out before the Hospital Billing Department even knows that he has been there.

      1. Jessica

        Seems like there should be some old Irish saying for this.
        In any case, I too wish you a speedy recovery, Howard Beale IV.

      1. John Beech

        Married to a Special Ed. teacher who part time taught sign language whilst we were in college and with a god daughter who has received this technological boon to hearing as a young child, I applaud you and offer my sincere best wishes.

  14. Mikerw0

    As to COVID articles…

    My wife was feeling a little draggy. Her boss asked her to get a PCR test as a precaution, which came back positive. The next day she repeated the test, which came back negative.

    NY State sent a draconian email written by too many lawyers stating she needed to isolate, contact trace, etc., and if she didn’t follow the rules was subject to criminal prosecution. It was way over the top, and likely outdated. They called a few times to check her whereabouts and try and contact trace. Questions like where did you get the virus, our answer no idea.

    The net result of the over-the-top approach, in my opinion, will be to discourage testing. If your life becomes unlivable for ten days and you aren’t very sick you are better off not subjecting yourself to this, or knowing.

    I say this from a household that has a member who cannot be vaccinated due to her serious health issues, we are very careful and have continued to mask in public, cancelled our vacation this month for safety concerns etc.

    1. Ian Perkins

      Many can’t afford to isolate, giving them an even stronger reason to avoid testing even when they’re pretty sure they have COVID. That’s been the case here, with pictures circulating of garment workers fleeing their factories en masse when the testers turn up.

  15. PlutoniumKun

    A Hard-Line Conservative Hopes to Be Japan’s First Female Leader NYT.

    Hard line conservatives is a nice euphemism. She is the main candidate for the ultra nationalist (i.e. fascist) wing of the Liberal Party in Japan. Even by their standards, she is probably too extreme, but don’t underestimate how tempting it would be for them to sneak in an extremist under the guise of equality. The most extreme conservative policies have often been pushed in Japan by female politicians (such as the strong crackdowns on the red light districts in the late 1950’s) under the guise of feminism. Japanese don’t buy it, but plenty of credulous foreign commentators think that if a policy is led by a woman, then somehow it must be ‘feminist’, especially when its done in other cultures. Expect to see some very tortured articles about her in the NYT or Guardian if she wins. Thankfully, this isn’t likely.

  16. Eduardo

    Sept 21 (Reuters) – Uber Technologies Inc (UBER.N) could post its first quarterly profit on an adjusted basis sooner than expected, propelled by strong demand for online food ordering and a recovery in cab bookings, sending its shares up about 6% premarket. …

    It now expects to post fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA, which excludes the cost of extensive stock-based compensation and other potentially significant items, of up to $100 million.
    Uber forecasts first-ever adjusted profit, shares jump 6%

    LOL. Adjusted EBITDA. But, shares jump!

  17. haywood

    Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine works in kids ages 5 to 11

    But is it SAFE? This study seems to have been designed to measure efficacy, and not safety, if I’m reading the press release correctly. Most drug trials, including the adult mRNA vaccine trials last year, recruit tens of thousands of participants in order to detect side effects with any degree of confidence. This trial only had 2k participants, probably 1,500 of whom actually received the vaccine.

    So how is the FDA supposed to make a determination about vaccine safety using this data?

    1. Ping

      haywood, Re: Pfizer says COVID-19 vaccine works in kids 5 t0 11

      To your question “But is it SAFE?” Also horrifyingly absent: are children being subscribed to a hamster wheel of continual boosters and how does that impact the developing immune system?

      1. Maritimer

        “how does that impact the developing immune system?”
        Not only the developing but the existing immune system. This factor is totally left out of any risk/benefit analysis I have seen or heard. Totally ignored. So, it’s get vaxxed now and maybe pay later. Who knows, roll the dice.

        Medical professionals suggesting screwing around with your immune system is beyond belief.

    2. Zalgiris

      I was sent this link from a friend on covid and vaccine efforts:

      I don’t understand this type of reporting / of course Pfizer is going to say it’s safe and there is a sense of urgency to the work. The company CEO and board member shouldn’t present a timeline to an agency on when an approval can occur. It should be an absolute regulatory determination on any kind of approval on an independent governing body and their schedule for everyone’s safety – understanding. The FDA wasn’t even cited / quoted.

      I wish the article would have at least mentioned some of the difficulties that the FDA is having and any possible impacts to review / timeline. They just lost two senior / respected leaders who left after the original pfizer approval. I know at least one of them came out, on an unofficial capacity, to write / sign a letter advising against a booster shot.

      It also mirrors an overall general concern with the revolving door / possible regulatory capture in US compliance – citing a former FDA official who is now on the pfizer board shouldn’t sit right with anyone.

      I pray they get this right, review the results of the study thoroughly and independently. That’s the central message / reassurance that I want to see and feel like the public deserves.

      One could spend an hour discussing the content and tone on this article and how it’s an attempt to trigger a conclusion, emotion toward belief that moving forward on approval is necessary. Seems like a PR piece and how follow the science could be replaced with follow the money.

    3. QuicksilverMessenger

      This also caught my eye. I know next to nothing about scientific studies and trials but is this normal?

      “Given how rarely children become severely ill, the trial was not designed to draw meaningful conclusions about the vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid or hospitalization. Instead, the researchers looked at measurements of the youngsters’ immune response, on the assumption that the protective levels of antibodies seen in older people would be as protective in younger children.”

      My daughter is 8. I am not looking forward to having to make a decision about mrna shots. And like Ping says below, are we setting them up for the “hamster wheel of continual boosters”? What do we know about this? A few months study of 2,300 kids? I am not confident

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Not seeing the point in vaccinating young children. If they rarely become severely ill, and it isn’t a sterilizing vaccine that prevents spread of the rona, then what’s the point? If it’s to prevent asymptomatic children from passing it along to grandma, that would be much better done with a mask.

        The only reason I’m coming up with to promote the Pfizer jab to kids is to increase Pfizer’s bottom line.

        1. megrim

          Pfizer’s bottom line yes, but I also think it has something to do with cementing the whole all-kids-back-to-school-in-person thing.

    4. Cuibono

      umm no, it specifically DID NOT measure efficacy. It measured Antibody levels.
      to show efficacy the trial would have needed to be at least 10 times larger . To show efficacy in terms of mortality 100 times larger at least.
      “Given how rarely children become severely ill, the trial was not big enough to draw meaningful conclusions about the vaccine’s ability to prevent Covid or hospitalization. Instead, researchers relied on measurements of the youngsters’ immune response.”

  18. Wukchumni

    Welcome to Yosemite, the new Pyrocene Park Wildfire Today and California’s giant sequoias remain safe from growing wildfire Reuters. We should be expanding their range, not merely keeping them safe.
    4 of us went on a backpack trip in Yosemite a few months ago, and i’ve probably done 150 to 200 backpack trips in Sequoia-Kings Canyon NP’s, but never in Yosemite NP. The only thing i’d walked was the Yosemite High Sierra Camp loop 30 years ago.

    A fire came through on the John Muir Trail that burned for 2-3 miles around 8 years ago and it must’ve been torrid that old flame as 95% of the standing pines were toes up, and whitethorn groundcover that spreads like the wildfire that allowed it to take the trees place. There were precisely zero saplings.

    Nobody goes to the forest anticipating to smell the fresh alpine air and then glimpse thorny low lying impenetrable shrubberies, but that is what these fires are doing in the not so grand bargain.

    We can nurture our forests and allow them to be in the same situation they’d been before we decided to alter things by not allowing natural fire cycles to run their course.

    It wont be easy, requiring oodles of physical labor by removal of duff and too close together trees, by allowing proper spacing of existing trees to be in line with what conditions were like once upon a time immemorial.

    Was reading through Sequoia NP yearly superintendent reports from 1900 to 1940 online, and the main use of the 1,400 or so men in CCC camps within the NP was firefighting.

    We should do something similar, and as in the 1930’s, have the military in charge of things, so the money to pay for it comes out of the defense budget.

    In the original CCC camps, enrollment was limited to single white males 18-25, i’d have a similar limitation in that only veterans could enroll.

    They’d be used to military life, so that hurdle isn’t one, and recently physically fit, which is of utmost importance as they’ll be doing lots of stoop labor cleaning out the forests when fire isn’t a clear and present danger.

    1. The Rev Kev

      When Lambert said that ‘We should be expanding (the giant sequoias) range, not merely keeping them safe’ it might be worthwhile thinking about trying to plant them in other countries as well. Ones where the new climate conditions will still allow them to grow. From what I see, there are too many eggs in too few baskets for my liking.

      1. JP

        We live adjacent to Sequoia NP. and know the Sequoia environment. We have a Sequoia growing in our front yard. We were in France a few years back, down on the Rhone, in the town of Condrieu. We were surprised and pleased to see several Sequoias in the park de ville. Condrieu is the source of the Viognier grape. Not at all the California sierra. I don’t know how those Sequoias will look in a couple of thousand years but they don’t seem too range constrained. But short of effecting plate techtonics, I don’t imagine expanding their natural range.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          In his book The Secret Life Of Trees, Peter Wohlleben wrote about how sequoias introduced into Europe grow fast for a hundred years or so and then die over some years after that. Apparently something they need for long term life does not exist in Europe.

          Perhaps sequoias should be introduced to other similar areas within the Sierra itself, together with enough soil samples to bring whatever soil life the sequoias are interacting with.

      2. Mantid

        Rev, the “climate conditions” for nearly all regions are in such flux. Where something may grow now, it won’t be growing in 10 years. Maybe a sequoia in a porch planter? Fast growing, short lived agriculture, including trees, may be the future.

    2. B24S

      The revival of the CCC, or some such, while not a new thought, is a great idea, and perhaps the time has come. (One of my grandfathers was among the young men in the CCC, but unfortunately I never learned what he did or where.) But allow me to disagree on one point, and suggest that more than a few young people in this great country, male and female, could use the discipline, exercise, and perspective of civil service in a modern CCC/National Fire Corp, as opposed to the military, replacing M16s, Humvees, and Predators with Pulaskis, Mcleods, and S2 airdrops, and kindling another, different, sense of national pride.

      Both our boys were heavily recruited by the military as they were considering post-grad medical training, but as tempting as no-cost medical school was, serving as a Navy Corpsman on “Afghanistan’s plains” was not in their plans. There are enough urban battlefields for them.

    3. JCC

      I read the WildfireToday site pretty regularly. Indian Wells Valley, in fact the entire Eastern side of the Sierras, has been buried in smoke on and off – mostly on – for the last few weeks.

      But there were two other important articles published on that site over the last couple of days


      And considering the yearly escalating Pentagon Budget, the second article is even more important:


      The federal government is reducing the numbers of large air tankers and helicopters on exclusive use contracts. Air tankers are being cut from 20 to 13, and Type 1 helicopters over the last year have been reduced from 34 to 28. Cutting back on these firefighting resources is not going to enhance our ability to suppress new fires before they become large, dangerous, and expensive.

      The above quote is from a 2018 article linked from the above story of “firefighting on the cheap”

  19. Hank Linderman

    I just found out that a supplement I have taken daily for 20 years or so is being pushed off of the market by the FDA. The supplement, NAC, is an amino-acid that helps with my hearing. I originally found it when it was marketed as “The Hearing Pill”, supposedly was developed with the US Navy for their fighter pilots. Anyway, the commercial version disappeared once everyone realized it was an over the counter supplement. I can’t find a complete statement from the FDA, but there appear to be Rx versions coming. I see indications that it’s being used to treat covid patients as well.

    I just ordered a 2 year supply.


      1. PlutoniumKun

        NAC has had a lot of attention in the anti-aging and alzhimers science areas. I suspect that you are right, that someone is trying to capture the market as it seems to have potential in a wide ranges of areas, including possibly covid.
        Dr. Brad Stansfield is a pretty good and reliable source of information on supplements so far as I’m aware (at least, I’ve always found his presentations balanced and sensible). He is a sceptic about its effectiveness, but that doesn’t mean that some Pharm company hasn’t found something new.

    1. Questa Nota

      Kafka was onto something with The Trial.

      For many in the modern world, you can’t know of what you may be alleged to have done or what the crime could be.

  20. Michael Ismoe

    “Ms. Takaichi raised eyebrows in 2014 when she posed for photos with Kazunari Yamada, a Holocaust denier who leads the fringe National Socialist Japanese Workers party.”

    So she’s a standard issue Republican?

  21. Michael Ismoe

    There are reports that people were standing in line almost 4 hours AFTER the polls closed, waiting to cast their ballot. “Because of Covid”, they reduced the number of polling stations in the entire constituency from 96 to 15. This is the hipster district in Toronto, next to the University.

    Governor Abbott will be sending observers to the next Canadian election to find out how it’s really done.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > Governor Abbott will be sending observers to the next Canadian election to find out how it’s really done.

      The Iowa Democrats were so much smarter. They used an app, followed by puff pieces in their controlled press.

  22. The Rev Kev

    “IMF Boosts Venezuelan Foreign Reserves by 83% with $5.1 Bn Injection”

    I wondered about that. The US has been trying to crush Venezuela and this turn around is remarkable. As the IMF is basically Washington, it may be that they are worried that China may step in and provide financing which will give them a bigger footprint in South America – and push them aside. This is like something that is happening right now elsewhere. So the US is sanctioning Syria and trying to starve its population and they are also working at (with the help of the EU) wrecking Lebanon as well. But, Hezbollah (not the Lebanese government note) is now bringing in gas by ship from Iran as the country was basically out. This has panicked Washington enough that they now want to pipe in gas into Lebanon via Syria thus breaking their own sanctions.

    1. John k

      Who coulda known sanctioning all these countries woulda driven them to work together?
      I see this as good news and an overdue change in policy.
      Now get out of Syria, stop helping Saudi vs Yemen, stop harassing Russia. And get the brits to follow suit.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “IMF Boosts Venezuelan Foreign Reserves by 83% with $5.1 Bn Injection”

      I am getting a vague sense that our sanctions and various coup attempts have forced Maduro into a rightward turn. But I am not au courant enough with Venezuelan domestic politics to say.

  23. the maritimer

    “This policy strikes me as a recipe for letting new variants into the country via international air travel, exactly as happened in New York with the original Covid spike (and from New York, the virus spread to the rest of the country).”

    This may be true. But to provide a little anecdotal context about the human cost of these travel policies, my partner (from the EU) is currently doing a postdoc in the US. Because of the restrictions specific to her visa (but not applicable to a number of her friends living in the US on different visas), she’s essentially been trapped in the states and has been unable to visit family in Europe for well over a year. Under the current restrictions, she could go home but she’d then be unable to return to her job in the US for at least 14 days. She’s watched as her friends living in the US and thousands of Americans go back and forth to her home country for vacation and tourism while she’s been stuck missing important events like her grandfather’s funeral. She now has something resembling PTSD, terrified every time she gets a call from home that somebody else might be sick or have passed away. As I live in Canada and cannot currently visit her in the US, she’s been feeling increasingly isolated and lonely in a place where she knows very few people and dislikes (and is generally baffled by) the culture. This policy change means she can finally start to plan a trip home without jumping through various costly hoops.

    Speaking of variants, I have two American friends who recently went on vacations in Brazil and Peru. It might be a good deal more effective to put your own people on a leash, rather than punishing people who are already suffering a good deal from the current limits on international travel while being forced to live or work far from home. I’d also add that most of these travel policies amount to class warfare: they keep people without the money or time from going home while allowing Americans and wealthy international elites to carry on.

    As an outsider looking on, I have to admit that the travel restrictions appeared to have nothing at all to do with keeping Americans safe from variants–they were arbitrary and unfairly punished people from particular countries, while Americans could continue to travel freely to those very same countries. American exceptionalism, indeed!

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > This policy change means she can finally start to plan a trip home without jumping through various costly hoops.

      That’s very true. Of course, the new variants introduced into the country by this policy will also cause people to jump through “costly hoops,” if you conceive of illness, death, and/or hankruptcy as a hoop.

      > She’s watched as her friends living in the US and thousands of Americans go back and forth to her home country for vacation and tourism

      I understand the sense of injustice. I believe that air travel restrictions, in general, should be draconian, with at least testing going out, and with a 14-day quarantine coming in. Let the business travelers take an ocean liner with good WiFi. If they are not, we are simply not serious about ending the pandemic.

  24. John Beech

    Regarding the expulsion of Haitians, am I the only one who senses a racist overtone to this? I can’t help but feel as if brown people, e.g. Latinos of Mexicans, Hondurans, Guatemalans-descent pour in but these blacks of African-descent are photographed being chased with horse-mounted border guards, and rounded up for flights back to Haiti. They are all economic migrants regardless of the spin, e.g. they’re 100% seeking the same better life as our forefathers, so does it, in point of fact, matter what kind of non-white immigrant you are in America these days? My major point being, Trump didn’t want anybody skipping the queue (equal opportunity hater?), but the present administration is – to my eyes – being discriminatory for no other reason I can see but skin color. This reasonable man is offended.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Don’t get too upset over the “racist overtones.” More to the point is deliberate obfuscation and misstatements about what is actually going on.

      “More than 320” to Port-au-Prince but….

      #BREAKING A law enforcement source tells me 8,000 people part of family units will be processed by @CBP then will continue the journey into the US— many go to live w/family.

      They will be given a notice to appear before a judge within 12-36 months — at their final destination.

      psaki says, “They’re not intending to stay here for a lengthy period of time…” so not worrying about covid exposure / “vaccine.”

  25. Jessica

    Just in case anyone missed the reference, National Socialist Japanese Workers Party is nearly the same as the official name of the Nazi Party, National Socialist German Workers Party (abbreviated NSDAP in German).

    1. Maritimer

      Canada’s vaccine workhorse is known as National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI). Many are balking at NACI directives and mandates.

  26. MonkeyBusiness

    US relaxing restrictions for vaccinated tourists? How about vaccine tourism? Been going for a while as I understand it. The last 2 articles are from July and August respectively, but I know an acquaintance who flew in back in May to get his shots.

  27. The Rev Kev

    “Labour’s ruling body passes rule changes mandated by EHRC ahead of conference”

    ‘The 12 members of the ICB will be four lawyers, four HR or regulatory experts and four party members.’

    That doesn’t fill me with confidence that. They would be mostly hacks I bet. It seems that anybody with any position of power in the Labour party going forward can expect to have their social media and writings scrutinized for ‘wrong-think.’ Can you imagine? The only people that will attain power would be either very deceptive people or very bland ones. And where it says ‘LabourList understands these will be considered on Sunday afternoon to ensure there is no interference with the Jewish calendar’, that is an indication of one of the forces behind Corbyn’s removal is being recognized, especially when the Chief Rabbi came out against him at the time. The UK Labour party is doomed, doomed I tell ya.

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > ‘The 12 members of the ICB will be four lawyers, four HR or regulatory experts and four party members.’

      This is laughable. They will all be party members, one way or another, exactly as the Labour bureaucrats, intelligence officials, NGOs, and press who defenestrated Corbyn as an anti-semite were “party members.”

  28. Kevin

    San Francisco mayor London Breed, “feeling the spirit” makes sense.
    She is a known practitioner of Santeria, her great grandmother was from Haiti via Louisiana. Dancing maskless is nada!

    Massive amounts of tax, fee, service charge, and grant money paper over the hypocrisy in public policy hereabouts. Joseph R Biden gets a salary lower than the mayor of San Francisco does.

    One of her five siblings is a convicted felon who threw a woman out of a car onto the freeway and holed up in London’s housing project apartment after the warrant was issued. She used her later public office to try to get him freed.

  29. Count Zero

    Labour’s ruling body passes rule changes mandated by EHRC ahead of conference

    Perhaps we can see here one important rationale for the alliance of the woke “radicals” and management in corporations and public institutions. Discipline. A complicated network of booby traps is laid so that any careless step — now or in the past — will trigger an explosion. Public shaming and expulsion follows.

    Note who is unprotected in this list: white male heterosexual working men who used to make up the majority of trade unionists and Labour voters in Britain. It has been quite clear for some time that there is no place in the Labour Party for such riff-raff. And they responded in the 2019 election with a (family blog) you too.

    But the beauty of this kind of regime is that the list of thought crimes is flexible enough to target anybody who steps out of line, whether they are guilty as charged or not — as some feminists have recently discovered. Everybody knows that Jeremy Corbyn and several other members of the Labour Party expelled in recent years were not guilty of antisemitism in any shape or form. That statement would get me expelled from the Labour Party. Like many others, I expelled myself while Tiny Blur was still in his pomp. Weapons of Mass Destruction was another gigantic lie that everybody knew was a lie.

    I digress from my point: that Woke political correctness is a useful managerial device for disciplining memberships and workforces.

  30. Mantid

    Without reading the Bioterror: the dangers of garage scientists manipulating DNA article (paywalled), I’d propose that perhaps backyard mechanics could do just as well as the trained and paid for scientists that have lead us to Covid. Why not give them a shot (he he)?
    Start with baking soda and go from there.

  31. Mikel

    Mayor London Breed was “feeling the spirit” of having a doctor at her beck and call, who would prescribe anything she asked.
    Think the mayor of any major city is going to have to face rationed healthcare? Same with the celebs at the Emmys.
    The major contributor to the high death rates is the decrepit health care $ystem.

    So they can dance and party because they will get immediate and careful healthcare treatment in the event they need it – at the first sniffle.

    Meanwhile, they keep everybody else arguing and debating non-sterilizing vaccines.

  32. Kouros

    The Romans have discovered at their peril the consequences of handing the lead of their legions to the scions of the patrician / senatorial class. And this is why they ended up with military men like Marius…

  33. jr

    Am I missing something here? Why in the world would it be ok for a child who has had contact with a COVID positive student to remain in school but a positive teacher sends the whole classroom to quarantine? The testing will still only come to about 10% of the unvaccinated students. I know that vaxxed/unvaxxed shed the same or so, that’s not the question. Do adults shed that much more severely than children? It seems to me this is letting a mighty big window open…which upon reflection would be a good thing. Let’s try again: It seems to me this is asking for a lot of unknown positives to come to school.

    “Unvaccinated students who are masked and follow the social distancing guidelines of three feet will no longer have to quarantine if they are a close contact of a positive student”

    “We saw enough quarantining that we thought this is something we want to get ahead of, and make sure that only those who really need to quarantine are quarantining,” de Blasio said.”

    “In elementary school, an entire class will still quarantine if an adult in the room tests positive for COVID. In middle and high schools, any unvaccinated student will be required to learn from home if an adult in the classroom is positive.”

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      > “Unvaccinated students who are masked and follow the social distancing guidelines of three feet will no longer have to quarantine if they are a close contact of a positive student”

      So why require vaccination, then? Am I missing something?

  34. Wukchumni

    Neighbor called this morning and a black bear had tipped over all of our trash bins in search of food leaving stuff strewn about, the first time that’s happened in awhile.

    Wonder if it got chased down to the foothills by the fire?

    1. fresno dan

      September 21, 2021 at 1:20 pm
      maybe your leaving particulary bear savory left overs in your garbage?

      1. Wukchumni

        It is quite revealing when a bear rips up garbage bags full of what you’ve been eating, as least the containers and whatnot.

        My mess was spread over an area of around 10 square feet, and the bruin wanted nothing to do with kitty littler box findings, their debris stayed in bags, but it ripped up every other possibility of a foodstuff.

  35. fresno dan

    So, in the ongoing frustration that is dealing with the medical bureacracy, I just came back from the hospital that refused to perform a test on me that was scheduled about 3 weeks ago (actually, more than 3 weeks).
    BACKGROUND: so I was going to get an angiogram a few weeks back, and according to hospital protocol, I had to have a covid test. That test came back covid positive, so the angiogram was cancelled (for later reschedule). Also, a spirometer test had been missed because the hospital neglected to inform me that such a test had been scheduled for me, as well as the time and date of the test.
    So, a makeup spirometer test (lung capacity) was scheduled for about 20 days later (bear in mind, this is now a few days after the positive covid test). As I had no symptoms, and continue to have no sysmptoms, that put we well outside the 10 day quarantine limit of the CDC for people who have tested positive for covid. Who knows what the limit is according to this hospital??? If they don’t agree with the CDC time limit, maybe they should not be any appointments approved for covid tested positive patients. How long is the period before I can be tested at this hospital? I don’t know, and apparently, no one at the hospital knows either.
    AGAIN, the hospital mandated the covid test, performed the covid test, knew the date of the postive covid test, knew I was scheduled for another test procedure at the hospital, and still couldn’t figure out until I got to the hospital that the appointment could not be honored. Apparently because the hospital staff is unclear themselves on what critiera is to be used to allow reentry of covid positives back into the hospital.

  36. Cuibono

    “Cécile Viboud, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at the National Institutes of Health’s Fogarty International Center, said nine modeling efforts her group is monitoring suggest that by the end of November, the Delta wave will have waned and new cases will be down “at quite a low level.” How low? Down to where the country was in late June and early July, before Delta took off. At that point the country was reporting somewhere between 7,500 to 15,000 new cases most days.”Sounds heavenly, doesn’t it? So does what Viboud said next. “We’re probably going to stay there, because there is quite a bit of immunity in the population,” she told STAT.
    Yeah, Cecile, well how do you explain cases in UK right now with 97% immunity?

    1. ambrit

      It looks to be just like what ‘fresno dan’ encountered at his local hospital, (recounted above.) No one is in control. The entire system is running on multiple autopilot programs. They conflict with each other, and the sheer dysfunction increases exponentially.
      I have observed that the Medical Establishment has thrown away over the last year and a half any public goodwill it ever had. Now the actual physical capacity is going the same way.
      If I was a cynic, I would remark that a Jackpot favouring elite would see the mess the American health establishment is falling into and, do nothing to correct it.
      I must be getting old.

      1. Lambert Strether Post author

        > a Jackpot favouring elite

        Concisely put. Let ‘er rip!

        This reminds me of something I wrote on psychotic elites*, inspired by the Grenfell Tower disaster, where the cladding created an enormous booby-trap:

        The classic American trope for elite misbehavior and misrule is “They were careless people, Tom and Daisy…,” but I’d lilke to propose an alternative from pulp fiction author John D. MacDonald’s The Turquoise Lament (very heavily cut). Private detective protagonist McGee interviews a trailer park resident, one T.K. Lumley, regarding his serial killer suspect, one Howie Brindle:

        “One thing [Howie Brindle] did got on my nerves a little bit. If he’d run an errand over to the grocery store, if he had enough money, he liked to buy himself one of those cans that squirt out whip cream or icing or chocolate for the top of a cake, and he’d go walking past, happy as a fat clam, squirting sweet goo straight into his mouth….

        Later, McGee discusses Brindle with his economist sidekick, Meyer:

        “Had we but the two disasters [at the trailer park], the poisoning and the explosion, and knew nothing else about Howie Brindle except the impression he made upon us, we would label him a person luck frowned upon, and marvel at the adjustment he has made.”

        “And wonder why he never mentioned the disasters?”

        “Too painful to mention. Or maybe even a kind of traumatic semi-amnesia. We’d make excuses for him. Even right now, we have no proof of anything. Only a chain of incidents so long and so consistent that our life experience tells us he is an amiable maniac…. I would guess that he has often booby-trapped the environment and left, not knowing what the results, if any, would be.

        The cladding in Grenfell Tower was a booby trap, an accident waiting to happen. And that’s our elites, going around setting booby traps and shooting sweet goo straight into their mouths, ka-ching. I mean, our health care system works exactly the same way.

        I think you could model the elites — which we must do, since they are opaque in their workings to us — as in general indifferent or hostile to non-elites, but operationalizing their hostility with random booby traps in their areas of expertise slash control, like Howie Brindle did (the “sweet goo” is profit or rent, of course). That way, we can dispense with CT and Bond Villains, as the effects of the many booby traps aggregate across the system. Now imagine the dull normals trying to navigate a minefield during the Jackpot (when only the elites have the maps).

        Fresno Dan gives a fine example of a such a minefield in his latest encounter with our Jackpot-ready health care system. The booby traps aren’t bugs. They’re features.

        NOTE * PMC on up.

        1. fresno dan

          I forgot to mention – it wasn’t all bad. I found a quarter (Nebraska) in the parking lot walking back to my car.

  37. Patrick Durusau

    Reading Index, A History of the by Dennis Duncan and thought someone I knew from topic maps might be interested.

    1. Yves Smith

      Wow, two site Policy violations in one short statement. An accomplishment of sorts.

      This is not a chat board. Commenting here is a privilege, not a right. We take our rules seriously.

      Specifically, Making Shit Up (masks do prevent spread) and ad hominem (just because Fauci is often wrong does not mean he is always wrong; you need to debunk his argument and not make a personal attack).

      I trust you will find your happiness on the Internet elsewhere.

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