Links 9/22/21

Dear patient readers,

Please give a big round of applause to Lambert, Jerri, and Nick for manning the site while I took some time off in Maine. The weather and seafood were great, but I was hampered by my progress with my new hips going into reverse at week 6 and my surgeon not having any suggestions as to what to do (I am getting a second opinion down here but the lead time for new patient appointments is long). So I missed out on one of my favorite activities, walking around and enjoying the ocean and nature views.

The cat is back: Wild Amur tigers rebound in China, thanks to govt policies Mongabay (furzy)

Living orbs of light aeon. Fireflies!

Under New Zealand’s Dark Skies, Insects Recover and Humans Reconnect with a Lost View Atlas Obscura (Chuck L)

Melbourne earthquake: Tremor rattles southeast Australia BBC

Hubble Has Captured The Startling ‘Eye’ of a Massive Stellar Explosion Science Alert (David L)

Texas Offers 4 Lessons For Staying Safe In Flash Floods NPR (David L)

How proteins help yeast adapt to changing conditions eLife (UserFriendly)

More people are eating bugs, but is it ethical to farm insects for food? The Conversation (Robert M)

7 Revealing Ways AIs Fail SpectrumIEEE (David L)

Brave or reckless? Thrill-seekers’ brains can tell you New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)

Study Finds First 72 Hours Crucial To Determining Whether Missing Person Case Goes Viral The Onion

The future of weight loss Works in Progress (UserFriendly)


From a few days back, doubt the situation has changed (guurst):


Asymptomatic infection is the pandemic’s dark matter PNAS (guurst). From a few days back, still germane.

Israel’s struggles to contain COVID-19 may be a warning for other nations Science (David L). Subhead: “Widespread boosters don’t dent case rate as schools, holidays foster spread.” GM points out that cases are 25% below their early September peak. So who knows?

Outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 B.1.617.2 (Delta) Variant Infections Among Incarcerated Persons in a Federal Prison — Texas, July–August 2021 CDC. GM’s highlights:

Useful example of what happens in an contained population, in this case a prison

80% vaccination, and relatively recent too — half were 4-6 months from second dose, the rest less than that — resulted in 70% attack rate among the vaccinated (and 93% in the unvaccinated)

Attack rates in the 4-6 months groups — 89%

Moderna held the best — 40% attack rate. Pfizer at 81%, but it’s not clear if those are matched by time from second dose.

Longer NYC Commutes, Household Crowding Linked To Higher COVID-19 Rates Gothamist. The study: Urban design attributes and resilience: COVID-19 evidence from New York City Buildings and Cities (peer reviewed).

Dr. Paul Offit on Boosters and Vaccines for Children C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Vaccines protect patients with cancer against Covid, new study suggests Independent

Johnson & Johnson says additional dose boosts Covid vaccine efficacy STAT

Covid-19 origins: Chinese study uncovers over 140 bat coronaviruses but says none linked to pandemic South China Morning Post


Extra 10,000 people likely to die of cancer because of Covid pandemic Telegraph


Ratings companies reacted slowly to the Covid-19 crisis, research shows Bloomberg. This should not be seen as news. Rating agencies generally downgrade only after Mr. Market has downgraded bonds via pricing them as if they had lower ratings.


Evergrande Borrowed From Everyone Matt Levine

US encircling China on multiple new Cold War fronts Asia Times (Kevin W)

The War Nerd: Taiwan — The Thucydides Trapper Who Cried Woof Gary Brecher, The eXiled (Anthony L). From last week, still germane.

China’s Xi pledges to end funding for overseas coal power plants Politico


From Politico’s European newsletter:

EU MULLS CANCELING TRANSATLANTIC SUMMIT: Brussels is taking Washington’s move to outflank France on a submarine deal seriously — and the European Commission is now considering whether to delay the EU-U.S. Trade and Tech Council (TTC), two officials told Playbook.

The summit, scheduled for September 29 in Pittsburgh, was meant to agree joint standards on things such as semiconductors and AI. The U.S. also wanted the EU to ease transatlantic data sharing.

Top EU leader rebukes Scott Morrison during awkward New York encounter Sydney Morning Herald


Where does the UK get its gas and is it facing a shortage this winter?  BBC (Kevin W)

UK pins hope on joining US, Mexico and Canada trade pact Financial Times. Help me. Physical proximity is the biggest determinant of trade flows.

Biden pours cold water on prospect of early US/UK trade deal Independent (Kevin W). We said repeatedly that if the UK got a fast trade deal, it would be only because the US had dictated terms (as in even more so than usual in bilateral deals with smaller countries).


The Taliban nominate a U.N. envoy, complicating a quandary for the General Assembly New York Times (Kevin W)

US, India prepare to play spoiler in Afghanistan Asia Times (Kevin W)


War No More: After Abandoning Afghanistan, Biden Sets the Pretext to Bomb Ethiopia Ghion Journal

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Russian hackers target Iowa farm co-op Axios (David L)


Donald Trump Sues New York Times and His Niece Mary Trump Over Tax Story Daily Beast (furzy)


Biden seeks to reassure aggrieved allies The Hill

Biden promises ‘relentless diplomacy’ to skeptical allies Associated Press

When It Comes to Letting Down Allies, Trumpism and Bidenism Have Much in Common CounterPunch (resilc)

Biden REFUSES to take questions from US reporters and tells Boris Johnson ‘good luck’ when he says he wants to answer ‘just a couple’ of queries from the press: White House aides then interrupt the British PM to clear journalists from Oval Office Daily Mail

Debt-Limit Suspension Passes House, Faces Standoff in Senate Wall Street Journal

Democrats to remove $1B for Israel’s Iron Dome from bill to avert shutdown The Hill

Sinema Threat Followed Boost From Pharma Group Daily Poster (Chuck L)

Del Rio migrant crisis: How did so many Haitians end up at the southern US border? El Paso Times (furzy)

Who’s paying for your Uber? PhysOrg (Robert M)

Elon Musk said SpaceX’s first-ever civilian crew had ‘challenges’ with the toilet, and promised an upgrade for the next flight Business Insider (Kevin W)

Uncovering The Real History Of The Women Who Pioneered Video Games Kotaku (Kevin W)

EU Plans To Legislate for Common Phone Charger Despite Apple Grumbles Reuters

PayPal Launches Its ‘Super App’ Combining Payments, Savings, Bill Pay, Crypto, Shopping and More TechCrunch

How Will Methane Regulations Impact America’s Oil And Gas Industry? OilPrice

Billionaire Leon Black accused of raping woman in Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion in 2002, according to court documents Business Insider. Kevin W: “She may be a woman now, but how old was she back in 2002?”

Second woman accuses Leon Black of rape; Black’s rep calls claim ‘complete fiction’ Reuters

The Elizabeth Holmes Line Rafia Zakaria, The Baffler (Anthony L). No inhibition about taking up a new con.

Class Warfare

Inequality is behind central bank dilemma Martin Wolf, Financial Times (David L)

Amazon Relaxes Drug Testing Policies, Will Lobby To Legalize Marijuana CNBC

Dana workers in powerful position to shut down auto industry and win their demands WSWS

Antidote du jour (Chet G):

And a bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. Henry Moon Pie

    I was pleased to learn yesterday that Common Earth’s new course “cohorts” that begin next week will include a substantial representation of Naked Capitalism readers. Welcome aboard!

    1. JustAnotherVolunteer

      Count me in that group and many thanks for the pointer. Your posts made this to seem appealing to miss.

    2. Mantid

      Hello Henry. Always enjoy your comments and reflections, but don’t understand “Common Earth”. How would you know if a NC cohort was involved? Are you on their board of directors or have access to their list serve? “It” looks interesting but I am, along with Kale, a bit concerned why one would have to “register” unless there’s some sort of limit to involvement. There’s enough tracking in society (see the article in links re. AI in the workplace) so adding more data points about myself is a bit sketchy. If you can, pass on (or suggest they pass on) some information about why someone would register and what would happen to our registry information. Seems interesting.

      1. judy2shoes

        Mantid, I’m not Henry, but I’ll try to answer some of your questions. You don’t have to register to get information. I had questions before potentially registering, so I emailed them ( One of the facilitators emailed me back with some answers, but she also invited me to a Zoom meeting so we could discuss more about why I was interested and also to give me a more in-depth idea about the course. During that discussion, I mentioned that someone had been posting on NC about the course, and it sounds as if others mentioned NC, too. There is a limit to the number in each class, and two of them are already full. They provide you with learning materials, and the course is free. Email them or call them (647-785-4408); they’d be happy to address your concerns.

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          judy2shoes, thanks for stepping in there. You’re exactly right about how they knew. NC-ers included the info in their “how did you hear about us?” section. The administrator was nice enough to inform me as a point of encouragement.

          I understand why someone would be skeptical. I was too. It’s not really advertised that the course and materials are free, though they are. Fritzjof Capra charges $250-$,1000 for his course, but I learned that Common Earth was free during a Skype call with the administrator.

          The benefactor of the site is a wealthy retired banker and venture capitalist in Canada. As I think I noted in my first post about Common Earth, I said at that first meeting that a venture capitalist encouraging learning about things like MMT and regenerative farming broke my stereotype of venture capitalists. She responded by asking, “Have you ever heard of Alan Watt?” And I smiled. It sounded like I’d finally found home.

          1. judy2shoes

            Thanks, Henry. I will admit to some skepticism, too, but I decided it was worth a go, in large part based on your reports as well as my interview.

            Thanks again for the information, and thanks for sending me down memory lane with Blind Faith – that song says quite a bit about my own journey.

            (“judy2shoes, thanks for stepping in there” Hah! I see what you did there…)

      2. Oh

        The more e-mail addresses and “member” information that a site can farm, the more valuable it is when they sell the site. e.g. Huffington Post before it was sold by Arianna.

        If these site want to have good articles to get people involved for their noble environmental cause they should not want anyone to register.

        1. judy2shoes

          So, you didn’t read my post, nor did you check out the site. Your uninformed concern is noted as is your strawman misdirection.

        2. Henry Moon Pie

          “they should not want anyone to register”

          It might be tough to send the students the course materials without an address. It would also be pretty difficult to send the students the link to the Zoom meeting without an email.

          There is a recurring aphorism in the Tao te Ching:

          To give no trust
          is to get no trust.

          Tao te Ching #23 (UK LeGuin, trans.)

          There are all kinds of reasons in this world to be skeptical and cynical, but in the end, if any kind of collective action is going to be possible, we have to take the trust plunge.

  2. jr

    Thanks as always to the team for your hard work maintaining this small island of sanity in an ocean of chaos. It keeps me sane and that’s saying a lot. You guys are the best.

    Yves, get better soon, we need you.

  3. BeliTsari

    CMU Uber study: Yep, Pittsburgh’s STILL paying for Uber. As if we the peons realize who pays for convenience, luxuries and piss-poor impulse control of “disruptive” tech oligarchy, as we continue underwriting Bezos, bailing-out gas & oil, so suburban sprawl Walmart, chain restaurants; private equity owned health centers, care homes; swaths of nasty rental properties can extract value from… oh, that’s RIGHT, no more free COVID Cash & 3-4 far more infectuous varieties & no lockdowns envisioned, as schoolkids become vectors. Jeepers, it’s too bad the whole autonomous PHEV Uber scam made Pgh. WAY too expensive for so many of CMU & UPMC’s workers. Maybe, they can sell convalescent plasma, as we’d sold coke, sex & blood during Reagan’s Miracle?

    1. LawnDart

      Not a good town for the working-class, that’s for sure: insane housing costs, crappy transportation options, few opportunities to earn a living wage, local governments only responsive to the needs of the PMC and uni students… see how quicky they rurned The Strip, Carson Street, East Liberty into playgrounds for wealthy idiots over the past few years?

      The divide between masters and servants is quite stark in that town, and this is something that makes itself evident in many of the workplaces in that region– it’s a much different culture than other cities of the rust-belt that experience less imbalance of power in worker/employer relationships. I’d rather live in Milwaukee or even Detroit than Pittsburgh– way more real, and a lot fewer BSers.

      1. Objective Ace

        Pittsburgh? Insane housing costs?.. its like 150-200k for a 3 bedroom house in good safe sections of town. If you want to live in the super affluent areas like Squirrel Hill or Friendship, sure it can start getting expensive–but thats not representative of the vast majority of the city

        The strip, Carson Street, and East LIberty aren’t expenisve relative to other cities. Prices are a little higher because they attract single professionals, but theyre still 200-300k range

        1. LawnDart

          Relative to NYC, Philly, or Boston, yes, housing is cheap. And you still can get a steal on pre-war construction if you wish to be an urban pioneer and help gentrify the Hill District or the North Side, or, if the suburbs are your thing…

          I left Pittsburgh some years ago and found better paying work (almost 40% better) than what was offered in that region and less expensive living costs (rent and utilities) to boot.

          I understand that “expensive” is a relative term, and while Pittsburgers like to think of their city as a blue-collar town, it’s definately not working-class friendly, although that in itself doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from much of the country these days.

      2. BeliTsari

        I’m HATING that suffering is inversely proportional to how worthwhile folks WERE, in all these rustbelt cities. People, who’d BUILT, defended and exemplified working class values, that made these cities tough, resilient and a BLAST to live in… well, they might have 31 great new microbreweries, but WHO you going to talk to, who’s not a mass of conditioned responses & buggy algorithms?

        1. LawnDart

          True words spoken.

          As per your video, many PMC/Liberal Pittsburgers believe and espouse their own bullship about their “wonderful” city as though it were a cloak against their own white supremacist past (and segregationist present). The lower Hill District being a prime example.

          I guess Friendship is now a “super-affluent” neighborhood thanks to the sprawl of the newish Children’s Hospital campus along Penn Avenue, but not long ago it was a good place to buy drugs or get mugged or shot– not that this something to be missed (well, maybe the drugs– those could be a lot of fun).

    2. Oh

      I felt that the study was trying quite hard to justify using Uber and Lyft based on “less” air pollution. They say that taking Uber results in less air pollution because the cars are newer and therefore have better pollution controls but while they admit that it results in more miles driven they don’t point to the additional air pollution as a direct consequence!

      Not a word about public transportation possibly being pahsed out because of Uber and Lyft. Reminds me of the Chicago Mayor’s stupid remarks lately.

      1. BeliTsari

        CMU & Westinghouse Transit Division basically invented autonomous mass transit (Skybus begat people-movers; BART was meant to be automated; Atlanta, Sao Palo & Tampa. Think Alstom SA bought them?) Automatic train control followed. So, the hilly city that spawned electric streetcars was to teach autonomous Volvo & Fords to replace Uber’s independent contractors, and if you’ve ever driven in Hell With The Roof Off at night, in winter, it must’ve seemed a good idea? Many of our folks never owned cars or learned to drive, until 1964 when the streetcars were torn out. I’d bicycled everywhere, on abandoned rail ROW. Uber was used to keep poor Bernie delegates out of Philly’s 2016 DNC. CA’s Prop 22 was to replace autonomous cars with indentured 1099 serfs.

  4. The Rev Kev

    “Melbourne earthquake: Tremor rattles southeast Australia”

    When there is an earthquake in a place like California, the people there are liable to say ‘Oh, it must be Tuesday!’ Here in Oz, earthquakes of any significance are rare though there was a nasty one in 1989 in Newcastle. The reason, I am given to understand, is that Australia as a continent is supposed to be the oldest one so most of our earthquakes long ago sorted themselves out. Still, it was not always so as seen by the remnant of volcanoes near where my father-in-law lives-

    And a salute for Lambert, Jerri, and Nick for stepping up to keep things running smoothly while Yves had some down time. As for her experiencing unexpected problems with her new hips – bugger! That is the sort of thing that you do not want to hear so commiserations.

    1. Wukchumni

      Yes, we in Cali are used to them {just felt a 1.658!} and the key with most earthquakes under 6 is it’s more or less a thrill ride where nothing happens aside from your mates calling to see if you felt it too.

      Knowing your predilection to put an ‘ie’ on the back of every word, are they calling it a temblorie?

    2. Jeotsu

      So much of the Australian housing stock is made of unreinforced masonry, AKA a death-trap in a good shake.They’re quite lucky that shake wasn’t closer to Melbourne, or it could have killed a lot of people. You don’t want a brick chimney falling on you, you really don’t.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The article isn’t all that clear – for one thing it gives a picture of the main direct source of supplies, but doesn’t note the complexity of the buying market and the reality that all the main grids in Europe are interconnected, gas is more or less a fungible traded commodity. It is striking though how little storage the UK possesses – a clear failure of planning (or neoliberalism, if you prefer). For some reason, the UK never insisted that its played out fields in the North Sea be used for storage, unlike in other countries.

      There are some other factors at work here that are getting little play, not least a suspicious increase in downtime in generators. At the moment, 5 of 13 nuclear reactors in the UK are off-line – only one of these is a planned outage. One seems to be connected to gas supply issues. In Ireland, the two biggest CCGT plants are off-line long term, for reasons that seem to be connected to the difficulty in sourcing key parts – Covid is given as an explanation. I’d be suspicious that some operators are arbitraging the system, but it may well be that Covid/Brexit related supply chain restrictions is causing serious maintenance problems.

    2. chuck roast

      There is this: “Russia been accused of restricting supply for political reasons (it wants to build a controversial pipeline across the Baltic sea).” Hello! The gas pipeline has been built, and it will not be filled with natural gas until the Russians get a permit to do exactly that. Until the permit is issued euroland can expect the same kind of hardball politics from Russia that it received from euroland during planning and construction…the big squeeze. For once it can’t be blamed on the Ukies.

  5. PlutoniumKun

    Longer NYC Commutes, Household Crowding Linked To Higher COVID-19 Rates Gothamist. The study: Urban design attributes and resilience: COVID-19 evidence from New York City Buildings and Cities

    This is interesting, especially in the context that many of those countries that have been more successful at controlling Covid have been those characterised by very high density urban living, which seems counterintuitive.

    I suspect one factor which wasn’t mentioned in either study is the level of informal or formal surveillance within apartments. In China its usual for some elderly folk to be employed as informal caretakers (essentially, spies), ensuring that everyone in the building is obeying the rules. I heard from people in Beijing that these old folks proved very effective at ensuring nobody was breaking quarantine and lockdown rules. In my own apartment building, it was noticeable that during the first lockdown it became far easier to tell, just by looking at the coming goings of delivery people which apartments may have been (against house rules) sublet and having more people living there than there should have been. There was a lot of informal surviellance going on which undoubtedly led to people toeing the line, which they may not have done in the suburbs or in buildings that lacked that type of control.

    As for commutes, it makes sense that it was length of exposure that was important, not necessarily the number of times people use commuter trains or buses. So much depends on air circulation – I suspect that old style subways such as in NY or London proved safer than modern, air sealed ones with air con, although I’d imagine it would be hard to identify this through data, unless both types existed in one city.

    1. BeliTsari

      I’d commented on the Gothamist version, that: we’re not only seeing FAR worse per-capita community spread in poor rural areas (even before vaccines, Amazon’s RURAL fulfillment centers, slaughterhouses, warehouses, break-bulks had higher infection rates than Philly). But, it’s a tiny bit more than disingenuous to IGNORE Cuomo, Trump, de Blasio, ALL media spewing, “just go on about your lives, as normal!” Staying wide open as SF “shut this sucker DOWN,” saving tens-of-thousands of lives. Then, feeding terrified & totally defenseless Black & brown “essential workers” to a virus that killed a few hundred, in far bigger cities, with packed transit systems. Catastrophe Capitalism’s simply totally legal (and praiseworthy) here. Petit-bourgoise NASDAQ portfolio’s BOOMED, as 1099 gig serfs’ loved ones’ serendipitously vacant apartments were flipped. Chronically PASC survivors were indentured into virtual share-cropping and FIRE, PhARMA learned how to monitize forever-plagues. My yuppie neighbor’s skedaddled upstate in Q7 & X5s returning to atone in Maybachs, GeelyVolvos & Porsche Macans, now with CT, PA & NJ plates.

    2. Robert Hahl

      Based on the Abstract it seems that that study didn’t consider ventilation effects. Growing up in NYC, I heard that the reason older buildings were kept too hot during winter was so that windows could be kept open for good ventilation, and that this was a legacy of the Spanish flu.

    3. BeliTsari

      I’d commented on the Gothamist version, that: we’re not only seeing FAR worse per-capita community spread in rural areas (even before vaccines, Amazon’s RURAL fulfillment centers, slaughterhouses, warehouses, break-bulks had higher infection rates than Philly). But, it’s a tiny bit more than disingenuous to IGNORE Cuomo, Trump, de Blasio, ALL media spewing, “just go on about your lives, as normal!” Staying wide open as SF “shut this sucker DOWN,” saving tens-of-thousands of lives. Then, feeding terrified & totally defenseless Black & brown “essential workers” to a virus that killed a few hundred, in far bigger cities, with packed transit systems. Catastrophe Capitalism’s simply totally legal (and praiseworthy) here. Petit-bourgoise NASDAQ portfolio’s BOOMED, as 1099 gig serfs’ loved ones’ serendipitously vacant apartments were flipped. Chronically PASC survivors were indentured into virtual share-cropping and FIRE, PhARMA learned how to monitize forever-plagues. My yuppie neighbor’s skedaddled upstate in Q7 & X5s returning to atone in Maybachs & Porsche Macans, now with CT, PA & NJ plates.

  6. Mikerw0

    The obesity epidemic is quite real. This is not a moral failing, nor one with an easy solution. There is an increasing body of research, and some constructive recent articles in STAT and The NY Times, that the prevailing view that it is an energy balance issue doesn’t explain what is happening. It is clear that changes in what is consumed correlate to the issue. I am careful not to call what most eat as being food, as it isn’t food. It is engineered calories that are easy for the machines to manufacture, cheap to produce and highly subsidized.

    1. Robert Hahl

      I lost 30 pounds about twenty years ago, and kept it off, following the adage: Never make a temporary change in diet.

      1. CanCyn

        “I lost 30 pounds about twenty years ago, and kept it off, following the adage: Never make a temporary change in diet.”
        You are a rarity Mr. Hahl. Losing weight is often the easy part. For many, keeping it off or not gaining back even more is the tough part

        1. marieann

          Exactly…..I am the leader in a weight loss group, there are 16 of us who meet weekly, and we have all lost the weight-and then gained it back. We call ourselves a support group rather that a weight loss group.
          It is not easy to navigate in today’s world of processed/ packaged food, restaurant dining, holidays/celebrations every other week.

          I find the only way to manage is to avoid all the above which makes me a bit of a homebody, and not many people are happy with that lifestyle.

  7. Wukchumni

    Loans, to build a ghost city lair
    Loans, to freshen up the bubble there
    One loan that is owed to many by few
    I have found with you

    Like a turdblossom under the April snow
    I was always certain debt would grow
    Loans taken in by Evergrande
    Now everybody wants principal back too

    Xi will make the real estate bubble burst
    Every day a beginning of the end
    Values rose and their fall is unrehearsed
    They warned of a lack of more lend
    ‘Cause they have the biggest bubble

    A bubble where the shine is gone
    To get rich is glorious isn’t all that is seems
    Time we’ve learned to live within our means
    This will change the meaning of overextension
    Endless loans never paid back by Evergrande

  8. PlutoniumKun

    The future of weight loss Works in Progress

    In short: Someone is developing a drug that helps weight loss. And apparently it works too: if it is combined with dieting and exercise.

    Macklin’s account may sound like a tall tale, but it’s supported by rigorous randomized controlled trials. The STEP-1 and STEP-4 trials, published this year, report that semaglutide paired with diet and exercise advice caused an average of 15% and 18% loss of body weight respectively, over 68 weeks in people with obesity or overweight

    How amazing. It works ‘when paired with diet and exercise advice’.

    Pretty much everything that is wrong with modern public health summed up in one article.

    BTL yesterday there was a brief discussion on the usefulness of diets that focus on fasting and/or reducing carbs in losing weight and being healthier, and several pointed out the obvious lack of clear independent advice on what foods spike blood sugar levels.

    There is plenty of advice and help out there, but its highly confusing, for the obvious reason that its given by either people selling something, or by fringe scientists, or people with a particular axe to grind. Its incredibly difficult to find clear, unambiguous, scientifically valid, no nonsense help and advice on what to eat and how to exercise in the most health-efficient manner possible.

    Much the same can be said for the simple things people can do to protect ourselves from Covid, such as maintaining D3 and zinc levels.

    I’ve had this argument/discussion with health professionals in my family. Why is there no clear, easy to read, sensible health advice available, produced by independent government bodies, that give genuinely helpful advice to people on which foods to eat, how to lose weight, how to exercise properly, which supplements are sensible to take, etc? And no, I’m not talking about something confusing and scientifically dubious like the ‘food pyramid’. I’ve never had a clear answer to this.

    1. outside observer

      I suspect it does not exist because it would wipe out sales of 95% of the products in the grocery store.

      1. TimH

        Where I live, the local Indian store (small) and Asian supermarket (large) offer veg at about 1/3rd the price of the white-people supermarkets.

    2. begob

      Martin Rees, astronomer royal: “It may seem incongruous that scientists can make confident statements about galaxies billions of light years away, while being baffled about issues close at hand that we all care about – diet and common diseases, for instance. But this is because living things with intricate levels of structure (even the smallest insects) are far more complex than atoms and stars.”

      Nutrition advice largely follows an appeal to authority, hounded by disestablishmentarianists.

    3. David

      I think yesterday’s discussion was quite revealing: a number of us, not by any means doctors or even scientists, have found our way to diets that are much healthier, reduce inflammation, and incidentally promote weight loss. All that without putting a foot inside the gym.

      But there is a risk of getting too technical about this. We know pretty much what our ancestors did and (especially) didn’t eat, even fifty years ago. We know what the difference is between diets in areas of the world where people are healthy, and those where they’re not. You can find information about blood sugar levels on line. You don’t need to consult your doctor before you decide to cut out sugary drinks and refined carbohydrates from your diet, not least because such foods were unknown for thousands of years anyway, and it’s not clear that the human race suffered as a result. After that, you can experiment: unlike drugs, there’s no way in which cutting out one type, of food for a week is going to hurt you.

      I’ve settled on a simple regime of, no bread, no pasta, no cakes, no fizzy drinks, but butter, meat and fish (including fat), vegetables, and some intake of potatoes, buckwheat and similar products. I’ve been at a very acceptable weight for a long time now. On the other hand, you should avoid the burgeoning “gluten free” market, which offers bread products made with potato starch and rice-flour, both of which spike blood sugar levels.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        I find it very frustrating that a few years back I put a lot of time and effort into doing research into it as having hit a significant birthday I knew needed to work harder to make sure I made a few more of those milestones. Especially when I was told by more than one doctor in my family that I was ‘fine’ and ‘well above average health’ when I knew I could do far better.

        The frustration was in spending hours in reseach and often falling down rabbitholes of misinformation on one topic or another. Just finding sources I could reasonably trust was pretty hard. And I’m reasonably well educated and have plenty of medics and scientists in my family I can ask for clarity, most don’t have that advantage. The one thing I could not rely on was any of the main ‘official’ sources of health advice. Its not ‘terrible’ advice, its just so hedged that its largely meaningless. It says a lot that listening to Joe Rogan is more useful than listening to official health advice.

        The worst thing is that even supposed experts can be highly misleading. The medical nutritionist I mentioned yesterday who likened time restricted eating to a eating disorder is typical. It turns out she is an advocate for body positivity. It sort of figured.

        1. David

          I think we have to give up, at least for now, the hope of getting any useful advice from “traditional” sources. There are changes underway, with the quiet burial of the cholesterol myth and the nuancing of the outdated calories in-calories out hypothesis, but, as you say, most “official” advice is useless. I tend to take my bearings from sites by people (doctors and other professionals) who clearly demonstrate that they know what they are talking about. Anders Eenfeldt, and Mark Hyman are good examples, with their own sites and a lot of useful material. In the end, I think this is mostly an n=1 issue. I tend to try things, see if they work, continue if they do and stop if they don’t. As and when the official narrative catches up, fine for them. With dietary changes, it’s hard to do yourself any real harm.

          1. Bazarov

            Just for the sake of balance–another n=1, if you will–my experience, which runs counter to David’s.

            The “high fat, low carb” diet put me through hell.

            I tried it, believing the hype. I lost weight, but then I started having heart palpitations and angina. I couldn’t sleep. Suddenly, I was having migraines; never had one in my life. I had two with aura so bad that I went to the emergency room because I couldn’t read or speak. I thought I was having a stroke.

            I felt very unhealthy.

            During follow up, my doctor tested my blood. Lipids had spiked drastically–I’d never had high cholesterol before! Blood pressure and inflammatory markers had also shot up.

            I gave my up “high fat, low carb” and tried a high carb plant based diet, following along with the advice of the likes of Dean Ornish and Dr. Greger. My diet is now about 70 percent carbohydrates (none refined) with a modest serving of fish once or twice a week. No other meat. No dairy. No eggs. Plenty of whole grains like oats–and I eat more fruit than I ever have in my life!

            My lipids plummeted. My LDL is 70; it’s never been that low. I was afraid that my triglycerides and glucose would spike (they were normal already but I worried). They both actually declined!

            Palpitations have greatly abated, no more chest pain. No more migraines. Blood pressure normal.

            I weigh less than I did when I was low carb. I sleep better. My acne and allergies cleared up (this was a surprise; I’d always been told diet had little influence on acne or seasonal allergies).

            The food I eat is still very satisfying and delicious, though it took me a bit to learn to cook without tons of oil, meat, and the like.

            I’ve never felt better.

            1. PlutoniumKun

              I think there are all sorts of subtleties at work and what works for one person would not necessarily work for others. I’ve tried a largely ‘pure’ vegan diet and I felt very good on it. i also tried a fairly high fat keto diet (I’m vegetarian, so it was mostly eggs and cheese for fat) and I surprised myself at just how healthy I felt on it. But I’ve heard lots of anecdotes from people who have had bad experiences on both. I prefer to stick to mostly plant based as I think the science is strongest on that side, but I’ll occasionally switch over.

              It could be of course that there is a ‘missing ingredient’ that all the diets that work have in common (some argue that its vegetable seed based oils), or it could be the mysteries of variability.

              Personally, I keep altering quite a lot – I’ve only a sample of one, but by changing regularly I try to keep track of what works best for me.

              For me, the only ‘core’ facts are that everyone should avoid processed food and sugar as much as possible, and eat lots of plants and lots of fibre. And fast regularly – there is lots of evidence that our bodies are just not designed for feeding 18 hours a day, every day.

              1. David

                I think the general view is that plant-based carbohydrates are fine, and that, whatever diet you follow, exactly it should feature lots of vegetables. That’s a very different thing from eating lots of refined carbohydrates and processed food: just looking at the labels of some of the stuff you find in supermarkets is enough to give me the wobbles (sugar in everything these days). As I think PK pointed out yesterday, a lot of the problem arises from the lack of standard terminology, and the vagueness of the terminology that is used. So quite a lot of the studies of “low carb” diets actually turn out to be studies of diets where carbs are reduced slightly, but people still eat lots of sugary food, which more than makes up for the carb reduction.

              2. Bazarov

                Yes, one huge difference I neglected to mention with the plant based diet has been an enormous jump in the amount of fiber I eat per day. We’re talking on order of 80+ grams.

                I agree that the most important dietary change you can make is: A.) Eat lots of plants and B.) Avoid highly processed foods, especially those that pair tons of added sugar with tons of saturated fat.

                “Processed” is such a vague term, I worry that it’s unhelpful for the vast majority of normal people who have no time to do a lot of research. When people hear “no processed!,” they might think: “All I can eat is fruit and raw carrots?”

                Many very healthy foods (for example, fermented foods and tofu) can technically be called “processed,” but what I mean when I use the term is the kind of “pre-digested” monstrosities like Ritz Crackers that never rot or the various snack cakes (whether in their bloated or compact forms). This class of food is basically just a bunch of powders thrown in a mold and moistened with palm oil.

                It’s disgusting what they’ve done to bread! Even the whole wheat varieties at the super market are weird, floppy, dyed, airy affairs. I bake my own bread using stone ground whole grain flour–it’s just the flour, the yeast, and some salt. Unlike the store bought bread, the loaves are pretty compact! You could stand on them.

                It’s a totally different food, and in my opinion, much more satisfying.


                1. Procopius

                  Even when I was a kid (World War II) bread was changing. My Mom explained to me that it was the law that bread that was not baked today had to be identified as “day-old” bread and sold at a reduced price. That’s what we bought. The shelf life of “bread” now seems to be on the order of three weeks, and that’s only advisory — you won’t be harmed any more than usual if you eat it a couple of weeks after the sell-by date. I’m hoping that by next year I can get a kitchen set up with an oven to bake my own bread.

              3. Oh

                I completely agree with you on the plant based diet sans processed food and sugar AND the fasting. Even short term fasting is good.

          2. ArvidMartensen

            I put on about 11 lb over about 3 years due to stress and suddenly had blood pressure rising, glucose rising and cholesterol rising to almost problem levels.
            So put myself on the diabetes diet, but natural food like salads and soups rather than the packaged smoothie version used by the doctors. And diet soft drinks and jellies which I’m now off. Mostly vegan except for a couple of social occasions.
            It can be done, not so much fun, but motivation helped. .
            Lost about 15 lb on about 800 – 900 calories a day plus about 40 mins of moderate to vigorous exercise a day for 10 weeks. I now feel better than I did 10 years ago.
            Blood pressure has gone down some, and will be keeping to that weight and doing the exercise. Glucose and cholesterol yet to be tested, but hoping!


            I have seen from family members that once you start on all the meds the side effects come thick and fast and can make you sick.

      2. CanCyn

        There was a kinda crazy diet book called ‘Eat right for your blood type’ published 20ish years ago. I don’t think blood type is right but there is definitely something that makes one diet work for one person and not another. So yes, n=1 and trial and error rule the day.
        I too believe that as long as there are lobbyists for processed food, fast food, sugar, etc, there will never be good, sound nutrition advice – there ain’t no profit in it!
        Like many here, I have most success keeping weight off with low carb eating but I do really like pasta and bread and find them difficult to give up altogether. I am 60 this year and I work harder at physical fitness than diet these days – a good brisk walk every day, regular strength training and weekly yoga for flexibility. I eat very little processed food, small farm meat, poultry and eggs, wild caught fish, local and/or organic produce (I know how lucky I am to be able to afford and access these things) and occasional bread (often homemade) or pasta. As long as I can physically do all I want and need to do, I feel healthy.
        David thanks for “Anders Eenfeldt and Mark Hyman” – I will look them up.

    4. Samuel Conner

      > I’ve had this argument/discussion with health professionals in my family. Why is there no clear, easy to read, sensible health advice available, produced by independent government bodies, that give genuinely helpful advice to people on which foods to eat, how to lose weight, how to exercise properly, which supplements are sensible to take, etc?

      I suspect that there may not be “one size fits all” recommendations that will work well for everyone.

      We don’t understand how genetics and epigenetics interact with diet. I’ve heard it claimed

      (a Radiolab episode on inheritance; the segment on the Overkalix historical study is here:


      that the nutrition status of pre-pubescent males has profound consequences for the metabolism of their first and second generation descendants (an underfed male ancestor is much better for the descendants than overfed one).

      Granting this story, it seems very plausible to me that there could be large confounding factors in many studies and recommendations based on these might not be universally applicable.

      I suspect that people may need to find what works best for them through experimentation.

      I suspect that Michael Pollan’s proposals (The Omnivore’s Dilemma), to “1) eat food, not food-like manufactured products, 2) not too much, 3) mostly plants” can work well for many people, but maybe 3) will not work for everyone.

    5. Paul O

      Ok, if this subject comes up again when I am not mostly out of contact I will try to add more. Over the last three years I have lost 34kg and have maybe 5 to go. I have done it in 5kg or so chunks and so far kept it off – and I think I will keep it off.

      It has been a real slog and has involved ‘epic’ quantities of exercise, several different diet regimes ( often to relieve the monotony), research, a ton of metrics and a lot more honesty than I started with. Not a regimen I would think many would be comfortable with. I am extremely well – I think!

      I could muster before and after pictures but don’t really want to be that exposed.

      It can be done. It is not so easy. I do not eat sugar. I eat zero processed food (ok protein powder is clearly processed feed and I need quite a lot of that, but otherwise). I am 57 and 6’6”.

  9. Ian Perkins

    UK pins hope on joining US, Mexico and Canada trade pact

    It’s joined the Orcas alliance hoping to show China what a serious world power it still is, and now it’s begging to be allowed to join a trade pact that might boost its GDP by a whopping 0.2% according to David Henig, director of the UK Trade Policy Project. Boris must be getting desperate in his search for ways the country benefits from Brexit.

    1. The Rev Kev

      As Yves has pointed out, it would be the US writing the rules of such a trade treaty and not Canada or Mexico. And what that would mean is that the UK would become the happy hunting grounds for US corporations to go over and pick the place clean and that would include the NHS as well. Certainly the UK would be forced to water down their standards to allow the importation of US products which they could not do before because they were operating under the more stringent EU laws. When the UK mentioned the other day that they were considering re-adopting the old imperial measure system, I doubt that it would be because they wanted more trade with Liberia and Myanmar so it must be because they want to align their trade with the only other country to use the imperial system – the US.

      1. Ian Perkins

        The Mash has been having fun with it:
        As for the grand imperial system, you’d probably think an eighth was the last of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines to arrive.

      2. Terry Flynn

        My own personal test as to whether the whole “attitude towards food” has changed will be the Tim-Tam test. Apart from bringing small amounts as gifts to the UK or to supply those “Aussie expat shops” in London, Tim-Tams were not allowed in the EU. I THINK it was due to the precautionary principle concerning a food colouring that lab tests gave worrying results to.

        If they suddenly appear in quantity in supermarkets I’ll know the stricter standards Europe has historically imposed compared to Australia (who kinda followed the USA) have been ditched by Boris.

      3. drumlin woodchuckles

        Under this scenario, the DC FedRegime serving its petrochemical GMO masters would rewrite the UK food rules to favor petrochemical GMO shitfood, chlorinated chicken, etc. The UK would become a culinary landfill site.

        The EU would probably have to ban British food imports into the EU in order to keep the petrochemical GMO shitfoods and the chlorinated chicken out of EUrope.

        EUrope would become a much bigger market for food imports from ” GMO forbidden here” Russiazone.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    Israel’s struggles to contain COVID-19 may be a warning for other nations Science

    The article seems to devote a lot of its energies to avoiding the question of whether the vaccines, specifically Pfizer, are doing much good. Only a longer time period will tell, but its pretty clear that the rates of infection and sickness over the past few months in high vaccinated countries doesn’t look all that much different from countries with low rates (mortality rates do seem clearly better). There may well be good reasons for this, but nobody in official publications seems to be willing to ask the question.

    1. Ignacio

      Such announcement could be a non comforting statement for many, and officials can argue that there is not direct comparison available and data is based solely in comparisons that do not correct for vaccination/breakthrough timing, age and other conditions. This needs further analysis of breakthrough cases. [It might already had been done but no hurry to show the results for the reasons stated above]. Let’s say, what’s done it’s done…
      Any case I hope something is being thought about third doses… (does seem not very much except specify who is to receive a new dose). Not very comforting, indeed.

      1. Ian Perkins

        The article has something to say about third doses:
        Among Israelis 60 and older who received a booster, the risk of infection fell 11-fold in August and the risk of severe disease 20-fold compared with their twice-vaccinated peers, according to a study of 1.1 million Israelis published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
        The study:

        1. Ignacio

          This is too little info likely on the vein of comforting those that go for a third dose. Too short evaluation time, lack of alternatives, lack of comprehensive immunological studies, no apparent report on reactogenicity… Observational data on infections and nothing more.
          Little substance and doesn’t help decisions in other countries.

          1. Ian Perkins

            I wondered about “The rate of confirmed infection was lower in the booster group than in the nonbooster group by a factor of 11.3”, when other studies (of the first two jabs, not boosters) seem to show little effect in terms of infections, but I haven’t waded through it thoroughly.

  11. PlutoniumKun

    Evergrande Borrowed From Everyone Matt Levine

    It reminds me of when a Chinese friend of mine, on returning from a vist home, said that ‘everyone in my village owes money to everyone else’. At the time I thought this was under the definition of ‘shadow banking’, but its apparent that there is in China a ‘shadow shadow banking’ system that is almost beyond any kind of monitoring or measuring.

    The accounting system of Evergrande appears to have been particularly complex and opaque, even by Chinese standards. I don’t envy the regulators going in to wade through the morass.

    The one thing that seems more or less certain is that Beijing will try to separate those creditors who need/deserve to be bailed out from those who can be safely given a haircut. The question this raises for me is whether there is now a behind the scenes market of people who feel they are ‘safe’ taking on the debts of those who feel exposed (for a fee of course). I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that a lot of potentially exposed investors will have already hedged their losses by passing them on to insiders.

    1. griffen

      I managed to read that link, I’ve typically found Levine to write in a pretty clear manner without moving too deeply into the weeds. Granted some of his subject matter in years past would prove difficult to pull apart in a few paragraphs.

      The portion of the story which got me, was the notion that in order to receive their bonus Evergrande employees were basically tasked with lending money to the corporate. A thousand times no, not ever. All reminds of the Enron debacle where most of the corporation employees were locked out of selling the declining shares of Enron.

    2. ObjectiveFunction

      > There is in China a ‘shadow shadow banking’ system that is almost beyond any kind of monitoring or measuring.

      Exactly! this is fundamental to Chinese culture. Such instinctive pooling of social resources, even among people who aren’t related, is the key to the rapid success of the overseas Chinese (huaqiao).

      In the colonial plantation era, the British observed that: bring in one Hokkien and you get the hardest working rubber tapper you could possibly want. Bring in three, and within 6 months one has borrowed money from the other two and is selling tobacco to the Malay tappers; within a year he’s opened a shop. ​20 years later, he’s made a fortune in tin tailings (ok, a few guys do, most never get beyond the shop, but their kids live better than they did).

      …. This model isn’t unique to Chinese of course: Jews, Levantines, Greeks, Japanese and many others have used this same model to carve out commercial niches for themselves as minorities in new lands.

      This is often with the intermediation, suasion and even enforcement by religious congregations or community associations, to ensure some clever dick doesn’t walk off with the capital, or gamble it away.

      To outsiders, these societies often seem a good bit like organized crime, and that probably isn’t far off: tong and triad, and temple for that matter, are all blurred together.

      So looked at in that way, Evergrande’s requirement that its execs and employees put money in the co-prosperity pool doesn’t come across nearly as sketchy to Chinese as it would to Westerners.

      But now that the clever dicks may have Madoff with the village’s money, the people are calling for the Temple enforcer to restore justice (remember that CPC guy, ‘the Holder of the Emperor’s Sword’ who went down to Wuhan last year? I wonder what he’s up to these days?)

  12. Mr. Magoo

    Re: “Sinema Threat Followed Boost From Pharma Group”

    The relative pittance that these lobbyists offer to swing their votes – that affect millions to far higher cumulative costs.

    Why can’t the grass roots candidates who put together a funding organization to effectively counter
    this? OK, maybe that would be stooping to the level of the lobbyists, but the current situation is
    ridiculous and maybe just time to get dirty and just get stuff done.

    Put me on the list….

    1. hunkerdown

      They want us to become Homo œconomicus because it destroys our communities and makes us easier to lead. Elites still have community. The lobbyists aren’t engaging in quid pro quo, but simply paying the costs of defending the policy the elites and ruling class need to preserve their stations, plus a service fee. Communities do each other favors. They are modeling what we should be doing for our collective selves: to recognize and maintain that common substance, and to hell with what the bourg think of it.

    2. Hank Linderman

      You have hit the nail on the head. As a 2 time Democratic nominee (KY02 2018 and 2020, planning to run 2022) the difficulties of running against a corporate (corrupted) funded candidate are many. I don’t take corporate PAC money, and the District is not wealthy. So, you do what you can. In the case of Kentucky’s 2nd, much of what I do is organizing, connecting people from the 21 counties to each other. I am also involved in working with the Kentucky Democratic Party, which has not been great about getting the Democratic message out in the rural Districts. I’m the chair of the Rural Council, an advisory group to the KDP. We are advocating reconnecting with people who work and having something to say to the rural Districts.

      I just sent a screen shot of your comment to our fundraising chair. I think your approach is interesting.


      1. Carla

        I suspect a big complication is the money that flows from Pelosi to incumbent Dems to keep them flush, and in line. There have articles about this linked here. I will attempt to search for at least one of those & link it below.

        1. Hank Linderman

          It’s frustrating to be the nominee in a District that’s getting expensive color mailers from Pelosi asking for money to support candidates in Districts other than yours. The short sightedness is astounding. I recently asked a Party director why a rural Kentuckian should vote Democratic. No answer…


  13. The Rev Kev

    “Under New Zealand’s Dark Skies, Insects Recover and Humans Reconnect with a Lost View”

    I can only imagine what such a sight must be like. Sometimes you go out at night and when you see the Milky Way above, you have to stop and realize that you are seeing it from the near edge of our galaxy while, due to the speed of light, that you are looking back into deep time. But without any lights about, it must be a blaze of glory and it was a brilliant idea to make the region a reserve so that some idiot does not set up a searchlight factory or some such to spoil the view. There is only one thing missing. Four heavy-duty laser cannons with one at each cardinal point of the compass. Why would I suggest such a thing? Why to shoot down any Starlink satellites that would be so rude to try to pas overhead and spoil that view of course.

    1. Wukchumni

      They don’t call it the land of the long white cloud for nothing, and I found overcast skies to be the norm in the South Island which gets rain every other day on average. That said, when the sky is clear the Magellanic Clouds in particular are spectacular, must be one of the brightest things visible overhead.

    2. Eustachedesaintpierre

      Such a precious asset & something like how the we that we were would drive about 5 miles on cold crispy clear nights to a large lake called lough Ennell in order to get a big sky effect of that miniscule part of the universe available to Ireland. It had a bonus too as that place has a large population of swans, which always reminded me of a couple of lines from one of the versions of that old Irish song – She Moved Through the Fair.

      And she went her way homeward
      With one star awake,
      As the swan in the evening
      Moved over the lake .

    3. jr

      Sadly, I suspect many won’t miss the night sky, although of course many will. It’s like those pathetic fools who allowed their dreams to be manipulated by Coors for a potter’s mess: half off a 6-pack of Silver Bull$h!+. What’s the loss of the night sky when it heaps glory on the demi-god Musk, 3D porn is finally available to all, and Fortnite can bump up their graphics?

      Yet another degradation…

        1. jr

          Okay, but those streetlights aren’t destroying the night time sky for the entire planet. Nor are they a monument to an egomaniac’s whims.

          1. BlakeFelix

            Eh, I’ll take the internet over street lights any day, and global high speed internet is a better monument than most. And I wouldn’t be surprised if Musk put a couple of telescopes in orbit before too long. Myhrvold on the other hand has some plans for the sky that give me the creeps…

        2. Irrational

          I agree the Southern skies are amazing.
          Hoping to go to the Dark Sky Reserve if it ever becomes possible to get into NZ again.
          Southern Africa is also great.
          In the Northern hemisphere I found Yellowstone good for stargazing – of course different constellations.

    4. Bill Smith

      I’ve spent some time out in the Sahara Desert. Pretty amazing to walk a bit of distance from the camp and looking up.

    5. ChrisPacific

      I have experienced this a few times (once when I was in a small South Island town, and had to walk a couple of kilometres in near-pitch darkness back to the address out of town where I was staying). As the article says, it’s enough to stop you in your tracks.

      At the risk of sullying the experience with technology, an app like Star Map can be very useful for telling you what exactly you are looking at. You can always put it away again once you get your bearings.

  14. Bacon

    It is disappointing to see the Baffler peddling the popular idea amongst the media that Holmes is a master manipulator. Her claims were never credible to anyone with an ounce of skepticism and the “journalists” amplifying her message without any proof because she wore a turtleneck just like Steve Jobs should have been laughed out of the profession.
    The Theranos saga is a tidy indictment of our power structures and leaders, many of whom were big Theranos investors. I’ve seen it called societal unseriousness here, I think a more fine point is capital B Bullshit.

    1. YankeeFrank

      Agreed. I think her ability to make narcissistic old men like Boies and Kissinger all hearts aflutter may run smack into a brick wall as she tries the same tactic with a jury.

      1. Tom Stone

        Yankee, I think you touched on an important point when you mentioned setting the hearts of old men aflutter.
        From all accounts Ms Holmes is an unusual person and very likely charismatic to some degree..
        Such Charisma is often the result of trauma and the behavior of many charismatics is completely amoral.
        She used whatever she had to get what she wanted without compunction.
        And a lot of patients were harmed.
        She sucked in a number of powerful and well connected old men and did it expertly,
        And took them for a ride along with a slew of investors.
        When the fraud came apart she made Bail, hooked up with a hottie with money, and got pregnant with impeccable timing.
        And her defense?
        It was Sunny, she’s a sweet young Mom who was conned and taken advantage of..
        This is not a normal young woman.

      2. Yves Smith Post author

        Sorry, John Carreyrou at the Wall Street Journal vehemently disagrees, and he’s the one Theranos tried to ruin when he was chasing the story. He is very concerned she will get off because people find her compelling.

    2. Darthbobber

      I think the question of whether she was almost entirely reliant on projecting an image of someone who might be doing what she claimed, and presenting a western stage front as a sophisticated R&D operation (she was), is separate from the question of whether any investor or journalist with a lick of sense should have bought this in the absence of any pretense of investigation (they shouldn’t. They did. They’re probably doing the same thing now with only slightly less phony unicorns.)

      As to the present line of defense, I’d assume that this is a line dictated by the attorneys, not by any personality characteristics of Holmes.

      They realize that they have no defense on the facts to speak of. The prosecution faces little difficulty in putting her personal fingerprints on every piece of criminality alleged, and it goes well beyond anything that “innocent mistake” might be even vaguely plausible for.

      So they are left with this Hail Mary effort to claim that the fingers were attached to someone else’s brain rather than her own.

      This is pretty unlikely to work, but all other defenses have pretty much zero chance, and they hope that with luck this offers slightly more than that. They’ve taken the case, they have to present something.

      1. YankeeFrank

        That was my sense of the case as well. Its a slam dunk for the prosecution so the defense has to try something and this is the best they could come up with.

        1. chuck roast

          The defense should call all of the (ex) Board of Directors as character witnesses. After all, these fellows are all well known, highly respected members of the community who are beyond reproach. They include: George Shultz (ex Sec. of State); William J. Perry (ex. Sec. of Navy); Henry A. Kissinger (fill in the blank); Sam Nunn (ex. US Senator); James N. Mattis (ex. Mad Dog); Richard Kovacevich (ex. CEO Wells Fargo); William A. First (ex. US Senator) among others. I would pay to be in that courtroom.

          1. Maritimer

            That List Of Shame really makes one wonder if the Elite do not believe their own BS about Capitalism, Science, Entrepreneurship, etc. Boies, ambulance chaser currently with the hounds after Randy Andy, is another one. He was actually Holmes’ adviser and they had a falling out.

            Book and docu a great case study about USA, USA, USA……..

        2. Yves Smith Post author

          I am probably naive, but the stereotypical battered woman is involved with a man who has actual or perceived power over her (financially dependent wife/partner, a man senior in her business who she thinks can ruin her). Holmes was the boss. If the prosecution is willing to hammer on that, I don’t see how this defense gets off the ground.

  15. chris

    Random question to anyone on here that uses an IOS device: have you noticed that with recent updates sites like Slate and WaPo are allowed to be in the “recently visited sites” category, but NC is not? Just noticed the other day that unless I pinned NC to my favorites section Safari would not suggest it when opening a new browser tab.

      1. chris

        I use Firefox on my android phone, but I use my iPad pro tablet for personal artwork and other tasks. It is my nice big morning paper machine each day. So I was surprised to see that as much as I visit NC using it, the NC website is never selected as a favorite or a recently visited site. But Slate and Wapo and similar sources will be put in the frequent queue despite my viewing them much less. Could be my stuff. Could be a setting I haven’t figured out yet. I found it interesting.

    1. Jomo

      My iPad has never put NC in recently visited sites and I have to type “nakedcap” when searching before it will suggest NC as a site. I usually get referred to “naked mole rat” first, and I can’t recall ever looking that up. I’m not savvy enough to provide an explanation.

  16. Michael Ismoe

    So maybe next year at the Met Gala, Leon Black can wear a big white gown that says, “Free the Perverts”?

    1. griffen

      That’s really bizarre behaviour, but anyone linked to Epstein / Maxwell goes into the rare quadrant of elite, wealthy & “weird or uncouth activities”. Also the Reuters article needs a slight rewrite.

      Epstein allegedly killed himself in 2019. I just can’t rationally comprehend how he extracted such a vast amount of wealthy from people like Black.

  17. Wukchumni

    Donald Trump Sues New York Times and His Niece Mary Trump Over Tax Story Daily Beast
    Standard operating procedure for the likes of Donald y Devin, sue somebody for an exorbitant amount of money ($100 million) which is the only thing anybody remembers of the saga until the lawsuit quietly goes away.

    1. chuck roast

      The Donald, as he was known in those days, successfully sued the NFL in 1986 for anti-trust violations. Trump was owner of the USFL New Jersey Generals. You really can’t make this up, but Roy Cohn was a lead lawyer in the case. The jury found that the NFL used monopoly power to damage the younger league and to retain control of the professional football market, but determined that the damage incurred by the USFL was virtually nonexistent. Trump and his cronies were awarded $1 (one dollar) in damages. Awards in anti-trust cases are trebled, so the final award was $3. Assuming the lawyers raked 25% off the top, this means that Cohn and his lot got a check for $.75 (seventy-five cents). This information is provided as a public service and will pass without comment.

  18. JohnnySacks

    Of course Amazon would want to legalize pot. Christ, who in their right mind could tolerate that kind of grinding drudgery shit job without being at least a little stoned? It was the saving grace throughout the total shit jobs I’ve done as a teen, too bad the price made it difficult to justify on the $3 an hour pay rate.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Good one. They had a similar take on Wal Mart many years ago too. These places wouldn’t exist if people would simply stop buying crap from them. It really is not hard.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          How many Walmart shoppers have enough money to where they could consistently buy their stuff from non-Walmart if they wanted? How many don’t?

          How many Walmart shoppers live in places where Walmart is the only wide-ranging stuff-store left in existence within reach of where those shoppers live?

          1. JBird4049

            Far, far too many live in the Walmart Deserts, I do believe.

            Doesn’t Walmart close down its stores for whatever reason, occasionally? So, what happens to those people, those towns that are now true deserts of the “wide-ranging stuff-store,” or worse, of any stores selling food?

            Does it become a corollary of the neoliberal Go Die to Go Starve?

    1. Maritimer

      Recently reelected CDN Trudeau legalised Pot, thus the headline:


      The more zoned out the populace on booze, prescription drugs, illegal drugs, etc. the better for the ruling class. The other unrecognized Pandemic: Addictions.

      1. lance ringquist

        circus, then bread and circus, then wine, bread and circus, then sex, wine, bread and circus, it did not stop the collapse.

      2. Count Zero

        There was an old Victorian cliche: “Drink is the curse of the working classes.” Oscar Wilde reversed it: “Work is the curse of the drinking classes.”

  19. Howard Beale IV

    My cochlear implant surgery yesterday was successful, no adverse effects so far. Thank you all for your being here!

      1. Howard Beale IV

        The actual activation of the implant comes in six weeks – I come back to Metro Detroit in a week’s time for post-op review, and then six weeks later I get the rest of the hardware. Just within the last few minutes the tinnitus roared up for as bit, then went back down. Only issue so far is that my residual hearing is lost; when I fly back home the pressurized cabin may straighten that out – it’s a short flight, but we’ll see what happens over the course of my hearing.

  20. The Rev Kev

    “7 Revealing Ways AIs Fail”

    ‘5) Quantifying Uncertainty’

    This section mentions the time a guy got decapitated when his Tesla failed to see the broad side of a truck (the irony!) but the algorithms used by Teslas also have a heavy bias about not seeing official vehicles – like big, red fire trucks and police squad cars. Maybe that algorithm reflects Musk’s inclination to ignore anything governmental so that he can get away with so much and it spilled over into the algorithm itself.

    1. YankeeFrank

      This part is telling:

      “Increasingly, the AI community is cataloging these failures with an eye toward monitoring the risks they may pose.”

      Note what they are not doing: fixing these issues. That’s because there is no way to fix them since:

      “Part of the problem is that the neural network technology that drives many AI systems can break down in ways that remain a mystery to researchers. “It’s unpredictable which problems artificial intelligence will be good at, because we don’t understand intelligence itself very well””

      Who knew that when they taught a computer to be “intelligent” it wouldn’t shut up.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Yeah, it’s legit and is from the State of Victoria but they were firing rubber bullets and pepper spray. The government shut down the building industry 2 days ago because they were proving to be super-spreaders. This led to riots both yesterday and today on top of a previous riot and it was not only “tradies” that were rioting but a lot of right-wing anti-lockdown protestors as well. They have made demands such as both Victoria’s Premier and the chief health officer step down and everything get opened up. Yeah, the police have been going in heavy but I do not think that there is that much sympathy with the protestors as they seemed intent on causing trouble. Yesterday they marched over a bridge to block all traffic which made them few friends and then marched back again. They are the equivalent to the guys in the US last year who took their rifles and occupied those State capital buildings to prove something or other-

      1. JacobiteInTraining

        I’m a pretty far Lefty, though with some right-leaning positions on a few issues, but I don’t *ever* like when cops get it into their head that pepper spray, pepper bullets, and rubber bullets is a good thing.

        I don’t like it when cops do the same thing to BLM, Occupy, or Union protests….and i don’t like it when they do it to AntiVax or other type protests either. The boot of the state will happily crush the red, or the blue, or any other colored team with equal enthusiasm.

        I feel like the playbook of the very small % of any given protesting population that is the most vocal/liable to go violent/just be assholes gives the cops the impetus to escalate against what are typically the vaaassst majority of peeps who are just damn well marching peacefully and deserve their time to protest.

        Wish it wasn’t so hard to take reasonable measures against the jerks/actual violence-mongers, but yet retain nuance for the rest of the crowd.

        If I have learned one thing in my 54 years of life it is that Humans don’t do nuance. Not the ones that matter, anyway.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          The reason it’s so hard to take measures against the instigators is because the instigators are cops.

      2. Basil Pesto

        I can’t say I really care either way but it is amusing to me that the yung leftistes who were (justfiably, iirc) complaining about heavy-handed policing by VicPol last year are now curiously silent about same.

        1. JacobiteInTraining

          well, theres one lefty chiming in with a hopefully not-hypocritical position! I was stuck in moderation, though…til now… :)

  21. Soredemos

    Biden declaring Ethiopia a security threat is insane, but that Ghion article seem to be ranting about ‘Masonic handshakes’ and Bibical prophecy, so not really sure what to make of it.

    1. David

      So far as I can see, the author is a Haile Selassie loyalist and nostalgic, who thinks it all went downhill after the God-King was overthrown. All regimes since then, including the deeply unpleasant Dergue and the EPRDF that overthrew them, are sinners and deserve to be punished. He’s obviously not a Tigrayan either, which many of the EPRDF leadership were, and his presentation of the current crisis is extremely one-sided.

      There’s a lot of background here, but it would take paragraphs and paragraphs. I think the main points are (1) instability in Ethiopia is a real problem for the region and the continent but (2) this doesn’t mean that Biden has any intention of intervening (For what purpose? On whose side?) and (3) this writer can be safely ignored.

  22. Mildred Montana

    Ratings companies reacted slowly to the Covid-19 crisis, research shows Bloomberg. “This should not be seen as news. Rating agencies generally downgrade only after Mr. Market has downgraded bonds via pricing them as if they had lower ratings.”

    In other words, ratings agencies predict the past.

  23. Jason Boxman

    From the department of not really a surprise: Podesta warns Democrats: Scale back the $3.5 trillion social policy bill or lose Congress.

    His message included a blunt call to progressives to accept a scaled-down price tag, in a bow to the party’s centrists.

    “The political reality is clear, given Democrats have no margin for error in the Senate and a limited margin in the House,” he wrote. “We will not secure the full $3.5 trillion investment. It’s time for Democrats to unite in finding the path forward.”

    Offer material benefits, lose control of Congress. Who knew?

  24. FreeMarketApologist

    “Texas Offers 4 Lessons For Staying Safe In Flash Floods”

    What about the rather obvious: “Don’t build things (homes, offices, roads, etc) in flood zones”?

    Nah. Too much negative effect on capitalist tendencies.

  25. Darthbobber

    My book report on the Ghion Journal Biden gonna bomb Ethiopia article.

    The author’s evidentiary basis for the central claim is this: He has 2 very reliable friends. One works in government in some capacity. One works in finance in an equally unspecified capacity. Both of them say that this is what Biden wants. Sorry, I don’t care if you’re CNN or Ghion Journal. If this is your sourcing, there is no source.

    On the face of it, Biden is setting either the pretext or the argument for his sanctions. What exactly the author thinks Biden would hope to accomplish via bombing (or the more hazily alluded to actual invasion) he doesn’t say.

    There’s also the possibility that we might have the Egyptians do the bombing, according to him.
    The reason for dragging Egypt into it is that they are involved in a dispute over Ethiopian construction of a dam on the Ghion (or the Nile, as non-Ethiopians stubbornly refer to it). Here he brands them hypocrites for having done the Aswan dam project. Unclear whether he doesn’t know which way the Nile flows or just hopes that his readers don’t.

    The news from Ethiopia mainly consists of duelling atrocity stories, with each faction choosing which to foreground and which to ignore. Actual info would be helpful, but we’re getting little of that.

    Other things I learn.
    That all American Presidents are blood kin to one another.

    That all world leaders are affiliated with Freemasonry. (at least he doesn’t drag the Jews into it).

    That our currency and government buildings are full of demonic symbols.

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Sometimes that Ghion Journal guy is OK, and other times he reads like the label of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castille Soap.

  26. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

    “Responding to one user, Musk said the next flight would have “upgraded toilets,” adding, “we had some challenges with it this flight.” ”

    For all of the monsters of knowledge who need to know and the simply curious, the history of “upgrading”:

    “From peeing in a ‘roll-on cuff’ to pooping into a bag: A brief history of how astronauts have gone to the bathroom in space for 58 years”

  27. Cuibono

    “Vax passports were too late, can’t halt infections fast enough”
    Vax passports halt infections? show me the study!

  28. ChrisPacific

    I have experienced this a few times (once when I was in a small South Island town, and had to walk a couple of kilometres in near-pitch darkness back to the address out of town where I was staying). As the article says, it’s enough to stop you in your tracks.

    At the risk of sullying the experience with technology, an app like Star Map can be very useful for telling you what exactly you are looking at. You can always put it away again once you get your bearings.

  29. rivegauche

    Excellent work as always — Lambert, Jerri, and Nick. Yves, glad you had the time off in Maine and hope you recover to full functionality.

  30. lance ringquist

    i read the article twice on women in video games, and missed this towering name,

    Carol Shaw,

    author of river raid, anyone who has ever played it, and i still do, see’s it as a masterpiece.

    she visited a friend of mines business a few years ago. my friend called me right away and said, you will never believe who just purchased some parts from me today, and i gasped.

    now i read the article twice, never saw here name, of course i may have missed it, that happens a lot to me.

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