Links 9/30/2021

These Sea Slugs Break a Cardinal Rule of Animal Life The Atlantic

The workers who keep global supply chains moving are warning of a ‘system collapse’ CNN

Global supply chains at risk of collapse, warn business leaders FT

HSBC, BlackRock, Nestle to help design nature-driven risk framework Reuters. The finest, most upstanding corporate citizens you could ever hope to meet!


Some fear boosters will hurt drive to reach the unvaccinated AP

How do we know the COVID vaccine won’t have long-term side-effects? The Conversation

Two studies tie long COVID-19 to severe initial illness Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

How safe is the cinema? Experts analyse Covid risks as No Time to Die opens Guardian


US, Chinese militaries hold 2 days of talks, stress the need for more South China Morning Post

Next China: Coal Crunch Knocks Out the Lights Bloomberg

Steps needed to bolster consumption People’s Daily. Commentary:

Who benefits most from the explosive growth of global shipping What China Reads

China has built a 5,000-room quarantine center for overseas arrivals. It could be the first of many CNN

Timeless Confucian values:

Cambodian brand turns lotus flower into luxury fashion Globe_

Manny Pacquiao retires from boxing to chase Philippine presidential bid Channel News Asia

Philippines is the worst place to be in during COVID, says Bloomberg MSN (Furzy Mouse).


Myanmar currency drops 60% in weeks as economy tanks since February coup Reuters

Revisiting U.S. Policy in Myanmar Center for Strategic and International Studies

Myanmar Junta Announces ‘Goodwill’ Ceasefire With Ethnic Armed Groups The Diplomat. It’s a trap!

Following coup, Myanmar’s Indigenous vow to protect forests ‘until the end of the world’ (commentary) Monga Bay

Australia returns world’s oldest tropical forest to indigenous owners France24

Future Fund worth $250bn says FoI requests ‘administratively burdensome’ Guardian. “The $250bn Future Fund says receiving 10 to 20 freedom of information requests a year is “administratively burdensome” and has confirmed proposed changes by the Morrison government would have shielded it from the kind of request that exposed investments in a company linked to the Myanmar military.”


Relatives of family killed in Kabul missile strike are seeking resettlement in America CNN

The Clock Is Ticking for Tunisia’s Saied Foreign Policy


The Guardian view on Keir Starmer’s speech: in search of a vision Guardian. Confidence-building photo:

The nice thing about that verbless Labour slogan — “STRONGER FUTURE TOGETHER” — is that you can arrange the words in any order without loss of sense-making, good job.

Keir Starmer vows to ‘re-tool’ Labour as party of law and order Politico. Thank God we’ve got Peter Mandelson back. Everything will be alright now. Meanwhile:

The Caribbean

Haiti Since the 2010 Earthquake: A Review of 11 Years Following the Money CEPR

Truly a Utopia:

Biden Administration

Why progressives really may kill the bill Politico. Because, in 2009, they went through ObamaCare and saw what a debacle it was, apparently. But from outside the “Progressive Caucus”:

I don’t know what “a clear path forward” means. A deal was supposed to be a deal; that’s why the Infrastructure bill passed the Senate to begin with. Then the [***cough*** ka-ching ***cough***] “moderates” started trying to retrade it. So, now “progressives” should make another deal?

Manchin Hammers Home Opposition to $3.5 Trillion Reconciliation Bill: ‘Fiscal Insanity’ Yahoo News. Then again:

I have to admit that Manchin’s statement, in its fulsome vacuity, reminded me of AOC on her “present” vote on weaponry for Israel. Perhaps Grim is correct.

Manchin says he could back reconciliation bill this year The Hill. Commentary:

Noteworthy because the account the co-founder and co-executive director of Indivisible. They can stomach the Clintons, no problem, but not this.

Democrats’ ‘Plan B’ on immigration in reconciliation bill rejected by Senate parliamentarian USA Today. “Rejected” apparently by the Parliamentarian who just took medical leave.

* * *

Confusion abounds as Biden rolls out scaled-back US booster campaign FT. I don’t want to be cranky about this, but we were sold that “the adults in the room” would be back in charge. And here we are!

COVID Paid Leave To Expire As Corporate Dems Stonewall Daily Poster

Intelligence Community

Five Eyes nations set intelligence trap on Wuhan The Australian. Juvenile.


Julian Assange Kidnapping Plot Casts New Light On 2018 Senate Intelligence Maneuver The Intercept. Of which [genuflects] Kamala Harris was a member.

Report On CIA Plans To Kidnap Assange Shows Clearest Evidence Yet Of Improper Pressure On Prosecutors The Dissenter

Sports Desk

Peyton and Eli Manning Can’t Save the NFL The Atlantic

Zeitgeist Watch

Britney Spears’s Father Suspended from Conservatorship, Judge Rules Teen Vogue

Guillotine Watch

More Than Half of America’s 100 Richest People Exploit Special Trusts to Avoid Estate Taxes Pro Publica

Imperial Collapse Watch

The Age of America First Richard Haas, Foreign Affairs vs. Has neo-Orientalism killed our ability to sense the limits of Western influence? Responsible Statecraft. Quincy Institute: “Haass is mourning over an empty grave. How often is U.S. foreign policy at once values-based, multilateral, and highly effective at shaping global developments?”

The west is the author of its own weakness FT

Class Warfare

Nabisco strike beats back demand for concessions NW Labor Press

Why America has a school bus driver shortage The Hustle

FYI: Catastrophic flooding helped carve Martian valleys, not just rivers of water The Register. So KSR was right in Red Mars.

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. John Beech

      Rarely have I encountered a website with worse graphic design. The choice of fonts are abysmal and difficult to read. Turns what could be a reasonable site for becoming more informed into something to avoid altogether. Too bad whomever makes these graphic art decisions labors under the impression artsy fonts marginal at best in print are just horrible on a monitor. Whatever, their circus, their monkeys.

      1. ex-PFC Chuck

        Try the Firefox browser and use it’s “Reader View” feature. You can access it through either the “View/Enter Reader View” menu command or click on the rectangular icon with three horizontal lines inside it immediately to the right of the URL. I use it for every page that supports it.

      2. Amfortas the hippie

        I want desperately to hear you refute any of the actual substance of those links.
        “Resident Conservative” has responsibilities, as well as all these obvious perks.
        But you’re complaining about web design?
        Russel Kirk rolls in his grave.

    1. ambrit

      In a related item, I got an e-mail from Medicare this morning stating that “high risk” populations, (65 years old and above, have underlying medical conditions, or work in a high risk setting,) who have had both shots of the Pfizer “vacine” can now get the booster after six months of getting the second shot previous. Just the Pfizer “brand” shot was mentioned.
      America is mirroring the Israeli plan. AIPAC must now refer to the “American Israeli Pandemic Action Plan.”
      Stay safe!

  1. doug

    The school bus driver shortage article is quite good. It presented some facts I had not considered, despite giving the situation a fair amount of thought. Thanks for posting it.

    1. Kurtismayfield

      It’s not a good job. That’s partially on the districts who let the kids get away with more crap on the bus, and it’s also the pay. My daughters bus driver is a bartender as well, our district pays the drivers $142 a day, and that isn’t enough to be a good driver and a kid manager at the same time.

        1. Kurtismayfield

          It’s a restaurant, but yes he does turnaround shifts like that. He only makes $25,500 a year on bus driving.. that is no way to treat someone who is responsible for driving around our children.

      1. heresy101

        Don’t remember the pay and the kids were mostly good when I drove a school bus 45 years ago. Other than the snowball fight on the bus, the most annoying thing was they had mismatched the engine and transmission and it was necessary to double clutch to shift gears (like a truck).
        They trusted my driving because I was one of the few drivers directed to take the kids home when Portland had an inch of ice everywhere. Going around a corner required a deft feel so that the rear tires didn’t slide out and cause the bus to spin around.
        During the day I majored in math.

    2. Wukchumni

      Diesel school buses are experiencing the same issue that is sidelining big rigs as well as RV’s, in that DEF (diesel exhaust fluid) sensors are going out and like everything that has chips, there are few replacements for a $300 part, unless you want to pay $3000 for one on eBay.

      I suspect that is why they used a bus with stripper poles in the story, not only is there a shortage of drivers, but buses too.

      1. hunkerdown

        I wonder if the sensors are dying due to people using unrefined, natural DEF, sometimes known by the letter P.

    3. Pelham

      Really enlightening. The more I read about our services-dominated economy, the more appalling it appears. These drivers have got to be among the most abused. And the article just casually notes they have to clean their own buses, a kind of cherry-on-top humiliation.

      With so many service workers refusing any longer to literally risk their lives for crap wages in degrading jobs, I wonder what they’re surviving on. My wife and I are lucky being able to work from home, so when I read things like this I feel both guilt and anger. We need a cosmic solution — starting with a generous UBI — and, more importantly, a political mechanism or structure to achieve it.

      A representative democracy might do the trick. But that’s clearly out of the question.

      1. Kurtismayfield

        With so many service workers refusing any longer to literally risk their lives for crap wages in degrading jobs, I wonder what they’re surviving on

        They all have found new, higher paying jobs! That’s what I have seen here, and a point made in the article. The fact that people at the low end are acting like rational economic actors is scaring the PMC a bit.

  2. jsn

    Pettis has me lost in his language here:

    “Redistributing income downwards helps at the margin, but there are only real two ways of rebalancing demand towards consumption. Either boost consumer debt, or boost the income share of GDP retained by households, which also means reducing the share of some other sector.”

    Can anyone explain the difference between “Redistributing income downwards” and “boost(ing) the income share of GDP retained by households”?

    To me, his tweet says, “this marginal thing might work a little, but the only thing that works is this thing (which is marginal and might only work a little). I expect theirs an economists distinction I’m missing somewhere. I get his second point, that the the reallocation means picking who the loser will be, but redistribution downward is doing that too. What is he saying?

    1. PlutoniumKun

      As I understand his argument, as he has expressed elsewhere, is that in China the billionaire class doesn’t have enough of the wealth of China to make a large difference if its redistributed downwards. They are very very rich, but the proportion of GNP they control is much less than in the US, to take one example. Most wealth is owned directly or indirectly by the state sector in China, so if you want to meaningfully increase the amount of wealth that ordinary Chinese possess, only the state sector has enough to distribute. There are of course other reasons for cutting billionaires down to size, but he argues that they don’t have enough to make a real difference to ordinary Chinese if you want to raise their ability to consume.

      There is a history of this in China, for example in the 1990’s many people were given the apartments they lived in (if you lived in Shanghai and held on to it, this could have made you very rich). Or you could give workers shares in the state companies they work for. Or you could privatise and redistribute the returns. There are many ways it can be done (some, of course, better than others). As he argues, its another debate as to what form that distribution takes place, but the principle is that this is the main source of meaningful distribution if you want to significantly shift wealth to ordinary Chinese.

      1. jsn

        Got it! Thank you!

        Income isn’t enough to make a difference, so redistribution of it is marginal. State owned wealth is where the meaningful redistributive potential is.

        Stuck in my American context, I couldn’t parse that.

        1. R

          I think he is saying that labour share of income has to increase materially, not just tinker at the redistributive edges. Capital’s share must go down. These map imperfectly into household and state and corporate sectors with a lot if wealth and income tied up in the last two. The household share has been suppressed in order to run mercantilist surpluses through trade in the corporate sector. Turning the export hose on the domestic population requires enabling a corresponding thirst of effective demand….

    2. dftbs

      I am also confused by his claim; reading the linked article it seems a best a misinterpretation or a misstatement. Note that the Tweet quoted above starts at “2/3”, the first Tweet claims the State Council is attempting to boost demand via “supply-side measures.” The linked article is light on specifics but if anything, it alludes to demand-side support, notably through employment and infrastructure spending. It also highlights the Chinese concern that consumption(demand) is sluggish and that they must address that directly.

      As to the latter claim, well you can take the boy out of Wall Street and dump him in Shanghai but its not liable to change much of his outlook (there is an article above on neo-orientalism that appears pertinent to this phenomenon).

      I think Pettis is correct that if China does not boost domestic demand it would rely on trade surpluses to “absorb domestic production excess”. This may not be a terrible concern for the Chinese as their trade surplus is the largest in the world at US 535bln, more than twice that of Germany which is at #2. But it seems that the Chinese are serious about “common prosperity” and would prefer to see their productive surplus be consumed domestically.

      I think he is dramatically incorrect in his third tweet. First his assertion that boosting consumer debt would increase demand, he is not wrong in the absolute sense, but simply lacks imagination. If you buy a porterhouse from the butcher you can eat it raw, but wouldn’t you prefer it cooked? Similarly, wouldn’t demand based on productive capacity of a society be preferable to leveraged demand like we have in the US. Finally another half-truth in that increasing household wealth (share of GDP) would increase consumption. But where is the Chinese mistake in believing that increasing employment (labor share of GDP) wouldn’t increase household wealth? Pettis may think the only way to do this is perhaps in some imitation of the American way, via central bank led inflation of household assets.

      Perhaps I’m being to cynical to his prescriptions, you can certainly address the symptoms the Chinese are attempting to fix via Pettis suggestions. You may succeed for a number of quarters, and your data may look good for a while. But in the long run, you will kill the patient, much as has happened here.

    3. Wandering Mind

      I think that, as in previous statements like this, Pettis is ignoring the role of the state in the creation of money.

      If you assume that there is only a fixed amount of money, then a person who doesn’t have enough has to borrow from the ones who do.

      But that is not how it needs to work in a country which issues its own currency.

      The Chinese government can provide sufficient money to consumers to give them the means to create the demand Pettis is talking about.

      The question is how this would be done – e.g. outright distribution a la the covid payouts in the U.S. or requiring an increase in wages, etc.

      If, on the other hand, the government does nothing or actively supports the reduction of government issued money flowing to “consumers” a/k/a workers, then those “consumers” will have to borrow.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        Pettis has written quite a bit on MMT (he is generally supportive), so he is well aware of the issue.

        The problem with ‘creating’ money to the public at a time when the economy is at full stretch is that this is inflationary. Creating more money does not create more resources, this is (more or less) fixed. The obvious solution to this in the Chinese context is to reduce the amount of money (resources) going into raw infrastructure investment. Since this is driven by the government, then the impact is the exact same as he describes – a transfer on the balance sheet from the State to the consumer sector.

        At least that is my interpretation of his arguments (which I’m agnostic on, I am not enough of an expert on the subject to offer a strong opinion).

  3. Samuel Conner

    It is quite infuriating to see US Senators citing “affordability”.


    Yesterday, when I encountered the neologism “Manchinema” in the 2PM Water Cooler, I first read it as “Manichean”

    Perhaps a new religion will arise out of the present crisis, Call it “Manchineanism”

  4. Questa Nota

    Bidet has taken inspiration from across the pond before, recall Neil Kinnock, so may be considering a new slogan:

    Stronger Together Future Up

  5. griffen

    NFL coverage and the Manning Monday night show. They are entertaining and also can offer an overview of the game and necessary details to true nerds. Less-devoted fans can enjoy the heavy hitting sport stars that they bring into their show.

    It’s a side show, & frankly by Monday night I’m burned out on college & pro football. Let alone the breathless commentary. Never in history has that happened! Okay a 60+ yard FG is pretty incredible. One can forget that ESPN does cover other sports leagues.

    1. Wukchumni

      Read that the average age of the viewer of the Sunday night NFL game is 53.

      Watched 5 innings of the Dodgers-Padres game in what represented the most continuous innings all year for me, a record of sorts. I’m in training for the playoffs, where I aspire to make it through a whole game, short attention span be damned.

      The side show was a couple of women doing the play by play, a MLB first.

      Its a brutal game-the NFL, can’t believe how many injuries have occurred already early in the season. Kind of a Logans Run, where you’re done by the time you’re 30, except for Brady.

      1. KLG

        Why I no longer watch baseball…

        1968 World Series, Tigers over Cardinals in 7 games: 2:37 average game time

        2020 World Series, Dodgers over Rays in 6 games: 3:34 average game time (9-inning Game 4, 4:10)

        There there is Joe Buck compared to his father, for example. Or Curt Gowdy.

        1. Chromex

          To be fair ( I was a 16 year old Michigander in 1968, very into the season) that was “the year of the pitcher” with ERAS that would raise eyebrows to the moon now ( Bob Gibson’s 1.12 comes to mind), pitchers in both leagues had to bat ( usually but not always an easy out) and the time taken between pitches was less, IIRC.The Tigers star , Denny McLain, had a season era of 1.96 when he racked up 31 wins. And .300 + averages were rare that year, at least compared to now .Lots of strikeouts (in one world series game Gibson struck out 19 or 20 Tigers) and not that many hits can certainly speed a game along.
          For me, baseball has not been the same since the year without a world series back in the 90s.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Injuries aside, the huge numbers for QBs within the salary cap era means that there isn’t much money for guys to do much more than the minimum. So plenty of guys are looking at concussions and the pension and going, “boy, if I can get to the pension, why would I stay? Extra money would go to hospital bills and dying at 50.”

        I suspect the routines developed with the new schedule aren’t up to snuff, causing injuries.

        1. Wukchumni

          Every NFL game causes me to cringe a few times per contest, watching some unfortunate take such punishment and then come back for more, oh and by the way boys, we’ve added 6.66% more playing time to your season…

          I reckon the only way the NFL can attract younger fans is by the gambling prospects.

          The game i’m watching tonight is sponsored by a sports book, many of the commercials are for other sports books, the onus is on wagering.

          The funny ones are for new cars, which exist in the commercials, but not on the lots, ha ha

          One of the sports book commercials has a comely miss who advises me that if I send them 1 almighty buck, they’ll give me $150 worth of action, boy howdy!

  6. John

    That US and China military types are having discussions is the first intelligent thing to break through the huffing and puffing, the QUAD, AUSUK, the we-only-aim-to- block China at sea bloviation. It should be repeated hourly to Blinken and Sullivan and the neo-cons infesting Washington: The Unipolar Moment is Over. In the manner of moments it has passed. The reality is a multi-polar world, which, imnsho, is partly a result of the insistence that the USA, the Empire, ruled all. To rule all you must possess the One Ring.

    Blundering toward a nuclear war is not a winning foreign policy.

  7. Tom Stone

    The adults are in charge, unfortunately they suffer from senile dementia and are preoccupied with groping the servants.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      I feel obligated to note this every time, but Biden has always been awful. Feinstein and Pelosi…yeah, never good. Obama and Clinton were young presidents. HRC joined the C Street cult over 20 years ago. It’s not age. Its who they are, and they haven’t been under the microscope in 20 years anyway between Republicans and Teflon Obama.

      1. JohnnyGL

        Yes, biden has been known in DC as notoriously lazy for a long time. He also has an inflated view of his own competence and is slow to delegate, which compounds things.

        Stoller wrote this stuff awhile back. He’s been proven right.

        Crazy thing is that biden is still much better than obama and clinton!

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          Maintaining an extremely low bar for “public servants” has become one of the most cherished of american “values.”

        2. NotTimothyGeithner

          Its admittedly a low bar. When Biden was a senator, he didn’t really do much except the bidding of the local corporate masters. As President, even the credit card companies are still all potatoes. Bill Clinton and Obama were effectively ideologically committed to grift. Obama certainly was a social climber with an eye on a life style brand like he was TB12, but Bill aggressively courted GOP types. In their case, they didn’t want to burn bridges when they became ex presidents. I mean Bill had to rent offices in Harlem because no one gave him a cent until after Kerry lost, except Epstein who gave him plane rides. Obama knows deep down he would be dancing for relative pennies, so he needed a big base. I don’t think Biden would ever work to be as awful as those two.

          Buttigieg is the only one who might, but he’s way too shameless.

        3. lance ringquist

          that bar is pretty low, in fact, the bar is so low, anyone could get over it with little or no effort at all, after all, trump did.

      2. Tom Stone

        NTG, the Dissenter article quotes an administration official talking about “Rendition like activities” in regard to the plot to kidnap or murder Assange.
        An euphemism of an euphemism.
        Kidnapping, torture and murder have been official US Policies for two decades, calling that turd in the punchbowl recycled protein doesn’t change the taste.

        1. NotTimothyGeithner

          Pelosi was last of the Gang of Eight and was aware of “enhanced interrogation techniques.” The problem is their age. It’s just evil people who are still there.

        1. newcatty

          Not only is the bar set “extremely low for public servants” become an entrenched descriptor for most office holders in governance, especially at federal level, one could include the fact that the low bar dictates the “choose the lesser evil” candidates. PR at its finest and most pervasive ( persuasive).

  8. Wukchumni

    How safe is the cinema? Experts analyse Covid risks as No Time to Die opens Guardian
    Who knows if the headline writer was trying to make a funny, but unintentional humor is the best kind…

    Nowadays ‘Bond: 007’ seems more to relate to the interest rate on a fixed income instrument.

    It seemed as if the proliferation of octoplexi and the like were the death knell for movies, all of the sudden we could have a myriad of choice all in one place, but it was like doubling or tripling the amount of pro sports teams, all it did was dilute talent and we ended up with oh so much dreck not worth seeing, exacerbated by CGI.

    I went from seeing a film once a week 30 years ago, to now where i’ve gone to the movies* maybe 20 times since the turn of the century.

    A big reason was before the internet and word of mouth predominated, movies were a sure fire way of relating with others afterwards in a shared experience albeit in different theaters.

    And then a funny thing happened, tv shows such as The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, Deadwood, Rome et al in long form, made a mockery of the movies passed off as art on the big screen…and all in the comfort of your home.

    Similar to vaudeville being made redundant by talkies first and then the Great Depression finished off the medium, movie theaters went the same route with technological advances and then Covid done killed it.

    *I miss $9 tubs of popcorn with a dollop of mysterious ‘golden flavoring’ if so requested (yeah, no thanks)

    1. Bacon

      We’re fortunate enough to have a strong local independent cinema, and there are great new and old movies shown all the time. There is plenty of great art being made, but it won’t be found at the megaplex.
      I’ll have to disagree about much of the tv show content. Little of it is more than distracting and few take proper advantage of the difference a serial medium affords. By the very nature of a streaming service it seems to me they are even more sensitive than the movie industry to producing lowest common denominator content.
      I’m still not going to sit in a theater until the airborne pandemic ends.

    2. griffen

      I’ve been to two movies in the past 2 to 3 months, both at odd times which maybe curtails the captive audience able or willing to go. While visiting family; just me and a sibling, very few people in aggregate at either film. I think this pandemic situation has brought forward the trends of being entertained largely at home.

      Seeing Black Widow on a Sunday matinee was like $6. Although I enjoy Craig’s portrayal of the titular British spy, I can’t get that worked up about a new Bond film anymore.

    3. William S

      Here’s the difference for me. I make enough money to go to a movie once a week if I’m so inclined. I have 2 independent theaters within walking distance, and a third a short bike ride off. Do I watch movies by streaming service? Yes, but I don’t pay penny one for any of it. A friend of mine gifted me a Prime subscription as well as letting me “borrow” his Netflix password (Netflix is GARBAGE, by the way). But more importantly…I didn’t pay for any of my hardware, either. Another friend’s girlfriend donated me a used flatscreen TV, and my mother used credit card points me a Bluray player (which I use for Prime/Netflix access). I would not be able to afford any of these things on my own. The only part of the deal that I pay for is the internet connection, the bill for which has nearly doubled in the last two years and is now straining my budget mightily. My point is, if it weren’t for the largesse of my friends and family, I wouldn’t even have a way to watch DVDs from the library, much less access to the bottomless pit of modern streaming entertainment. If either the TV or the Blu-ray player craps out, I am SOL. I might be able to afford a replacement after a year of careful saving. So yeah, chuckle and giggle and snigger and chortle all you want over the death of movie theaters, but keep in mind, they do they remain a relatively democratic, and affordable, portal for art AND entertainment, and one which does not demand extravagant investments for simple access.

      1. Roland

        There is some worthwhile content available on Netflix. However, I mostly avoid the Netflix-created series.

        For me, the best discoveries were a couple of Korean series: Misaeng (“Incomplete Life”) and My Mister. Misaeng is especially remarkable, perhaps unique — a workplace drama in which the characters are actually shown to be working, and whose work actually forms an important part of the story.

  9. Glossolalia

    “How do we know the COVID vaccine won’t have long-term side-effects?”

    We don’t. We just have to make our best guess.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      Why do “we” have to “guess?”

      Hundreds of millions have already been jabbed. “We” could just wait and see. Of course that prudence might prevent the pharma ghouls from getting their mitts on little kids, neonates and developing fetuses before any problems become evident.

      Time’s a wastin’….

    2. JTMcPhee

      “We” don’t have much of a vote in the Best Guess category. Profit and broken/corrupt politics drives the “science” that determines what “we” get in the way of responses to pandemics, and financialization, and deadly technologies like autonomous weapons…

    3. Chris S

      Sure, if by “best guess” you actually mean a well-informed prediction based on well-developed biological models of mRNA and its related mechanisms.

      1. Jeff W

        My sentiments exactly. (Here is biomedical scientist Rhonda Patrick talking about the history of the use of mRNA as a therapeutic, going back to 2001 with the first clinical trials of the use of mRNA in humans.)

        1. Cuibono

          which said trials ALL FAILED.

          If these side effects were very very rare why have so many people heard of friends and family with them?

    4. Michael Sharkey

      The article states “if side-effects are going to occur, they usually happen within a few months after getting a vaccine”. I’ve heard this so many times before and yet I have to ask myself, if that was the case, why did it take months after completion of the phase 3 trials and issuance of the EUA for the CDC to acknowledge myocarditis, Bell’s Palsy, menstruation issues and thrombocytopenia?

      Based upon their reassurances, these side effects should have been apparent from the trials. I have yet to review the actual phase 3 data to see if there was any mention of the above side effects, but I suspect it was, if it existed in their data at all, minimized.

      1. ProudWappie

        Good points. In my opinion the trials were too small, and too short.

        It’s telling that there’s a lot of censorship on social media, and that there still cannot be any form of reasonable discussion about the vaccines. It’s pretty clear that the risk/benefit calculation is negative for younger people, but still we get swamped with this type of article.

  10. PlutoniumKun

    The Age of America First Richard Haas, Foreign Affairs vs. Has neo-Orientalism killed our ability to sense the limits of Western influence? Responsible Statecraft. Quincy Institute: “Haass is mourning over an empty grave. How often is U.S. foreign policy at once values-based, multilateral, and highly effective at shaping global developments?”

    Some good reading there (obviously, Hass is only worth reading to see what the mainstream are thinking and telling themselves). I particularly like this observation from Lieven:

    Additional pressure against the serious study of other cultures has been provided by the legions of academics who have adopted crude and conformist versions of Edward Said’s “Orientalism” thesis, whereby every Western attempt to study other cultures on their own terms can automatically be suspected of Western quasi-racist “essentialism” and denounced accordingly. This has had an especially destructive effect in the area of anthropology.

    The weird thing about this is that this supposedly “anti-colonial” ideology not only denies any autonomous culture to other peoples in the world, but contains an implicit assumption that all human beings (unless warped by evil Western influences) are at heart Western liberal college professors. This is in fact a nice liberal-sounding version of the famous statement of the U.S. Marine general in Stanley Kubrick’s Vietnam War film Full Metal Jacket: “Inside every Gook there is an American waiting to get out.”

    This isn’t new of course – back in the 1950’s Graham Greene wrote a whole novel based around it (The Quiet American). But its undoubtedly gotten worse, and the US/West is no longer strong enough to impose its will to make up for a lack of insight into how other cultures work. Maybe we need a few less STEM’s and a few more historians and anthropologists. Or maybe we just need more humility.

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      “Maybe we need a few less STEM’s and a few more historians and anthropologists”

      i’ve thought those same words for almost 40 years…once i figured out, in high school, that the Humanities were being devalued relentlessly.
      hyperinstrumentalism…where humans are merely another interchangeable part…and the endless attempts to shoehorn everything Human into something that looks like Physics or Chemistry…has led us here.
      Of course, I apply anthropology to rural Texas as a matter of course,lol…have since Junior High, in fact…and have wondered why the same couldn’t at least tangentially inform our forever warmaking.
      surely it behooves the warmakers to at least kind of understand “The Enemy”(Sun Tsu).
      oh…and yes to Humility, too.

      like the Matrix, we’re stuck in either 1985 or 1995, depending on the letter after the Pol’s name.

      1. jr

        The constant degradation of the human from all quarters. I cannot find it but about a year back there was an article written by an ostensible Humanities professor who was whole-heartedly mocking the ancients who visited the Oracle of Delphii. It was quite revealing, I thought, of the state of play in the Humanities. No context, no attempt to put himself in their shoes as intelligent human beings, nope, just something to the effect of “Look how silly they were!”

        On the other side of the scale we have robots being given human rights; people’s dreams being programmed to enjoy refreshing Coors Light; imbeciles like Dennett, Tyson, and Nye arguing that consciousness is an illusion; behavioral scientists using neuroscience to devise better ways of manipulating workers through neuro-management.

        We need a spiritual revolution, not a McChristian revival, we need a new template for what it is to be human.

        By the way, seems you were gone for a few days there Amfortas, if I’m not mistaken. It’s good to see you back!

        1. Henry Moon Pie

          “new template for what it is to be human”

          What do you think of the directions taken by either Fritjof Capra or Thomas Berry, essentially a spirituality based on our connections with the cosmos, the Earth, other living things?

        2. newcatty

          We need a spiritual revolution…

          Yes! I am smiling as I write this, because this revelation came to me 50 years ago, as I pondered the ideas of how to define “revolution”. Without it coming from spirit, the basis of true change, the problems of the planet and her inhabitants would not be solved.

          1. jr

            Agreed, as long as we are freighted with the literalism of religious fundamentalism and reductionism of materialism, we will never value ourselves enough to find the strength or desire to solve our problems. Heres a take from Antonin Artaud:

            “If our life lacks brimstone, i.e., a constant magic, it is because we choose to observe our acts and lose ourselves in considerations of their imagined forms instead of being impelled by their force.”

            “And this faculty is an exclusively human one. I would even say that it is this infection of the human which contaminates ideas that should have remained divine; for far from believing that man invented the supernatural and the divine, I think it is man’s age-old intervention which has ultimately corrupted the divine within him.”

            The Theatre and It’s Double pg. 8

            1. Amfortas the hippie

              or, more obliquely:
              ” O happiness! O happiness! Wilt thou perhaps sing, O my soul? Thou liest in the grass. But this is the secret, solemn hour, when no shepherd playeth his pipe.
              Take care! Hot noontide sleepeth on the fields. Do not sing! Hush! The world is perfect.
              Do not sing, thou prairie-bird, my soul! Do not even whisper! Lo- hush! The old noontide sleepeth, it moveth its mouth: doth it not just now drink a drop of happiness—
              —An old brown drop of golden happiness, golden wine? Something whisketh over it, its happiness laugheth. Thus—laugheth a God. Hush!—
              —’For happiness, how little sufficeth for happiness!’ Thus spake I once and thought myself wise. But it was a blasphemy: that have I now learned. Wise fools speak better.

              The least thing precisely, the gentlest thing, the lightest thing, a lizard’s rustling, a breath, a whisk, an eye-glance—little maketh up the best happiness. Hush!

              —What hath befallen me: Hark! Hath time flown away? Do I not fall? Have I not fallen—hark! into the well of eternity?
              —What happeneth to me? Hush! It stingeth me—alas—to the heart? To the heart! Oh, break up, break up, my heart, after such happiness, after such a sting!
              —What? Hath not the world just now become perfect? Round and ripe? Oh, for the golden round ring—whither doth it fly? Let me run after it! Quick!



              why are we alive, if not for such moments?
              yet every feature of this modern world serves to make us dismiss them altogether…or, worse, to never notice them , at all.

      2. Bacon

        We’ve intentionally refused to study the ideology of the “enemy” ever since the elite realized it was more attractive than the status quo.

      3. Henry Moon Pie

        “hyperinstrumentalism…where humans are merely another interchangeable part…and the endless attempts to shoehorn everything Human into something that looks like Physics or Chemistry…has led us here.”

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

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

        When old Mario Savio gets a little stuck on that word “mean,” it brings to my 60s mind Arlo and “Alice’s Restaurant:” I mean, I mean, I mean, it takes a lotta (wait a beat) damn gall, sergeant…

    2. JTMcPhee

      A book at least as interesting as “The Quiet American” is “The Ugly American,” which had some significant political impacts, back when literature still mattered:

      I read that book back in my midwestern Presbyterian-Boy Scout “do my duty to God and my Country” days, along with all the true-life war stories I could find — including books by Japanese and German fighter aces, to fill my testosterone-loaded mind with glory crap. Leaving me stupid enough to ENLIST in the Imperial Army for a run at the Evil Commies in Vietnam. “Fight them over there, so we don’t have to fight them over hear,” and such crap. Took a long while to figure out that Our Fearless Leaders From The Rear were much more my enemies than the people of Vietnam… And now I have some residual effects, apparently, from Agent Orange. Karma is a b!tch…

      1. Rainlover

        I’m so sorry to hear about your agent Orange difficulties. I agree with your assessment of the Ugly American. It’s an eye opener if the reader is the least bit naive about foreign service. The waste and arrogance are appalling.

        After I read the novel, I read Lederer’s polemical collection of essays, A Nation Of Sheep. Well worth the read if you can find it. My local public library had it, but it also had a deep collection of old classics unusual for a relatively small Kansas town.

  11. Tom Stone

    Here in Sonoma County we have a red flag fire warning, we are in extreme drought and my landlord still won’t fix the water leak.
    @400 gallons per day, conservatively.
    And the area above the cesspit is settling.
    I’m hoping to hear from a legal aid Attorney today,they opened a case Monday.
    Since I have not been given notice I do not qualify for emergency housing assistance, calling County Code enforcement would result in the place being red tagged instantly at which point I would qualify…but I want it lined up before I call the County even though I do have places I can couch surf for a week or two.
    On the plus side the maples and redwoods are getting water and it has yet to impact the seasonal creek ( I’ll check again when the sun rises) and I have made progress in packing up.
    I’m a life long Californian who has always been careful with water use, having to wait to call the County is NOT something I’m happy about.
    If I don’t hear from them by noon I’ll make a follow up call and if that does not get immediate action I’ll call code enforcement Friday morning.
    Enough is enough.

    1. ambrit

      When you do call code enforcement, ask for an e-mail confirmation of the call. I looked it up and California is a “Two Party Consent ” State as far as recording telephone calls goes. Thus, if you intend to record the call, tell the person on the other end of the call that fact. As I found out last year, some organizations do not want their communications recorded by “non-official actors.” (I waived my recording right then since the call was important to me.)
      Since the septic tank is at issue here, your waiting to fully prepare is prudent. The County Health Office could red tag the house, as you mentioned, and make you move out immediately. You might want to call one of those “good friends” and ask them to warm up the couch for you.
      Doesn’t the landlord’s family care? At the least, his heirs would want functioning rental units to inherit when he finally “enters the void.” This character sounds like he is ripe for being declared incompetent.
      This all sounds like a Monopoly game version of King Lear.
      Good luck!

      1. Tom Stone

        Thank you Ambrit, he does have a son whose name I don’t know.
        He’s in the St George Utah area and I’ll have to use one of the paid people search programs to find him.
        My skip tracing days are long past and date to pre internet times.

        1. ambrit

          Yeah, it’s not like the days of Sam Spade or Phillip Marlowe any more. Even Lew Archer would find things difficult now.
          Off the top of my head here, but you mentioned the St George Utah area. Could the family be LDS? If so, their central registry would definitely want to help.

  12. Robert Hahl

    Obama and Clinton were young and so was Carter. Since 1968, the Democrats won the presidency only when they nominated someone who was almost unknown to their voters before, except when the opponent was Trump, who lost by 42,000 votes in three states. Democrats with long track records make weak candidates.

  13. cocomaan

    CDC is pushing today to have pregnant women take the Covid 19 vaccine.

    Given that a widely experienced side effect of the vaccine is fever, I’d like to see some honest takes on, say, the linkages between prenatal fever and autism and/or ADHD.

    Seems like avoiding anything that could give you a fever, including covid and the vaccine, would be prudent when pregnant. Pregnant women aren’t even supposed to eat turkey sausage (listeria), change litter pans (toxoplasma), or take many over the counter medications. Why would we recommend this vaccine to pregnant women, instead of avoidance tactics?

      1. Nikkikat

        It’s almost like John Podesta and Neera Tanden are in charge of the Biden Admin covid team……They’ve always been people with a lot of heart. Oh, and that Zeke Emanuel great medical advisor that he is; couldn’t get much traction for his idea about letting old people die after 75 because they were worthless to society. Maybe, he thinks it’s better to start at the beginning instead of the end. Snark snark.
        Firing health care workers, forcing pregnant women and children to get a vaccine with little science behind it. Lying about natural immunity. Did people vote for this?

        1. ambrit

          Yes, the Sacklers are a joke, but unfortunately, they are laughing all the way to the bank.
          Up is Down. Wrong is Right. Etc. Etc.

      2. Glen

        Anecdotal, we almost lost our niece and her baby when she got delta. She is in her early twenties. Hospital induced birth and performed a C-section over a month early. Both baby and mom doing ok, but a very, very near thing.

        1. Anders K

          Ouch, a month early? I’m glad that your niece and her baby are doing alright!

          I hope that covid will relinquish its grip on us soon, but I’m not really expecting it to.

    1. Après Moi

      The funniest thing was how NPR (car only) reported this: recommending to vaccinate “pregnant people.” The reporter repeated the phrase a few time, pausing each time as if to make sure she was reading correctly. Let’s hope she was rolling her eyes in private – but then, maybe not. Another episode in ‘as the world turns… upside down.’

    2. Maritimer

      Another fine example of the One Size Fits All Medicine. Take One For The Herd. What a complete abdication of the principles of real Medicine as practiced for ages.

      It also demonstrates the complete lack of empathy by these Medical Monsters. They care nothing for women of any type nor for their mental health. I can only imagine what it must be like for a young woman, educated as to the dangers of these vaccines, to be forced to be injected. Pondering both before and after, after and after dose after dose, what might happen to her body and her reproductive capablility.

  14. Michael Ismoe

    US, Chinese militaries hold 2 days of talks, stress the need for more South China Morning Post

    Did Milley turn over the nuclear launch codes?

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Would Milley even have the nuclear launch codes? I thought only the President’s personal ” keeper of the football” is supposed to have those codes, ready at all times for the President to open the football and get the codes.

      Or am I wrong?

  15. Carolinian

    Re Labour Party–shouldn’t they just rename it TINA and be done with it?

    And re No Time to Die–I can’t imagine risking disease in order see what it likely to not even be a very good Bond movie. Sean Connery maybe. The franchise has been going through the motions for years.

  16. antidlc

    Billionaires’ Democratic Bag Man
    Rep. Josh Gottheimer is the House’s top recipient of private equity cash — and he’s helping Wall Street undermine the strategy to pass the reconciliation bill.
    Billionaires’ Democratic Bag Man

    The Democratic congressman leading the charge to undermine his party’s two-track strategy to pass President Joe Biden’s economic agenda was the U.S. House’s biggest recipient of campaign cash from the private equity industry, whose executives could lose lucrative tax loopholes should that agenda become law. The lawmaker’s former legislative director is also lobbying lawmakers on tax policy behalf of the private equity industry, according to federal records reviewed by The Daily Poster.

    Rep. Josh Gottheimer, D-N.J., has spearheaded a media tour and legislative campaign to pass a business-backed infrastructure bill separate from Biden’s reconciliation package — a maneuver backed by corporate lobbyists seeking to kill the latter because it will likely be paid for by taxes on the wealthy.

    1. Felix_47

      He went to Harvard Law and his wife went to Columbia Law and is in private equity. I mean they are main line democrats.

  17. ProNewerDeal

    USA COVID prevalence has declined 33% to 34.7/100K 7-day avearage daily cases, from the Sep13 high of 52.4 .

    What is your guesstimate factor(s) for the decline? I’d guesstimate that perhaps “herd immunity” was actually reached, between prior infection & vaccinated of people that are within window (6 months?) of temporary immunity.

    I don’t see any significant other change from Sep13 to now, in NPI (indoor mask mandates, etc) or vaccination rates. Biden’s new vaccinate employer mandates would not have had enough time to make a significant difference, & a majority of adult workers are already vaccinated anyways.

    What do you expect to occur with prevalence in the next 6 months? I sincerely hope the prevalence in my county declines from 16.3 to under 5. However I expect that any such declines will be temporary for a few months at best, to be undone by a future Wave due to a new variant & lost temporary immunity.

    1. Cocomaan

      I imagine all kinds of explanations will be kicked around, but we still don’t really understand the epidemiology of the 1918 flu and why it dissipated in about eighteen months, and I doubt we will understand this disease either.

      As lambert notes in the water cooler for the past few days or weeks, the January decline has not been explained yet.

      Technocrats will be quick to declare themselves responsible though.

    1. chuck roast

      Terrific idea! I can use it on my cats. The vet would love to see me knock on her door pushing a recycle bin.

      Now that that is settled, any similar ideas on how to give my critters a pill?

      1. rowlf

        My father, a USAF pilot, liked to put the subject cat in his helmet bag (about 2′ x 2′) and zip it up around the cat’s neck to minimize the struggle and danger.

        The vet I take my sons’ cats to showed me how to have a syringe or dropper full of water nearby, grab the cat and open the jaws, place pill deep and and then squirt the water in.

        I like option two so far, but the cats like me still at this point. It may be different if I wasn’t considered a useful higher primate or untrustworthy.

  18. Kurt

    “Seafarers, truck drivers and airline workers have endured quarantines”

    Those losing vacation time while sitting in hotels under quarantine should be paid, since the quarantine is part and a result of their work environment.

    I am an Able Bodied Seaman, or “A.B.” and have worked on ships. It’s boring, brutal, hot or cold and with quarantines, has lost one of its only advantages, free tourism and transportation to ports of call.

    This article is dishonest journalism that attempts through semantics, to create a world that doesn’t exist except in the politically correct mind of the writer Hanna Ziady who has probably never done anything in her life but type. She finds one of infinitesimal number of female chief officers to interview and to create a false narrative in the minds of readers.

    Almost every person working on ships worldwide are male. Most of the tiny number of females work on cruise liners, or cargo ships that carry passengers, and interact with people, not machinery or the sea.

    “women representonly 1.2% percent of the global seafarer workforce as per the BIMCO/ICS 2021 Seafarer Workforce Report.”

    1. Vandemonian

      Here’s an exception to prove your rule, Kurt. A friend of ours works as a ships engineer. She’s a tough, competent, no-nonsense lady who has no trouble keeping her male subordinates (and her machinery) in line.

      She’s just returned to Tasmania following a marine rescue assignment in SE Asia. The trip home included three separate 14 day quarantine stays. She reports that the stay at Howard Springs in the Northern Territory was relatively luxurious compared to the two in Asia.

  19. dday

    Pro Publica continues to mine gems from their trove of tax data on the 1500 wealthiest Americans.

    I was fascinated by Steve Job’s widow response about her children inheriting “nostalgic and hard assets such as real estate, art and a yacht”. Maybe instead of an estate tax rate we should just mandate that a second generation is allowed to inherit, say $10 million, and everything else reverts.

    1. Questa Nota

      And they will have the means to avoid that pesky IRS $600 transaction monitoring through creative* applications.

      *their people dogsbodies lackeys will be on the case

  20. Bazarov

    As a lover of science fiction and someone who was truly excited to read Kim Stanley Robinson’s “Red Mars” years ago when it was recommended to me, few books have disappointed me so much. The gee-whiz descriptions of the martian landscape were stale (but accurate!), and the gee-whiz characters were uninteresting, with the exception of the psychiatrist suffering from homesickness. I thought “Finally! An interesting character!”–only to have my balloon popped: his section was like 5 pages long. The eye-roll inducing “I just like to fix stuff!” science woman got, if I recall correctly, two huge sections!

    Generally, I find KSR’s prose inert. “Red Mars” has a sensibility that is very, very 90s (not in a good way). KSR has an interesting perspective (sometimes), but he writes like an engineer. I think “Red Mars” would’ve been better if he cut all the single character-perspective narratives and just described what happened with technical omniscience–like he was the Edward Gibbon of Mars or something.

    KSR would be describing these absolutely insane landscapes; unbelievably deep and high canyons, truly apocalyptic floods, etc. with flat prose able to capture technical correctness but empty of the spiritual significance. Here’s a typical passage:

    “So the Tharsis Bulge was the most important factor in shaping the surface of Mars. The other major factor was meteor fall. In the Noachian Age, three to four billion years ago, meteors were falling on Mars at a tremendous rate, millions of them, and thousands of them were planetesimals, rocks as big as Vega or Phobos. One of the impacts left behind Hellas Basin, 2,000 kilometers in diameter, the largest obvious crater in the solar system, although Daedalia Planum appears to be the remains of an impact basin 4,500 kilometers across. Those are big; but then there are areologists who believe that the entire northern hemisphere of Mars is an ancient impact basin.”

    Compare that to prose in James Dickey’s “Deliverance,” some typical passages relating the characters’ interactions with the a river in the Georgia wilderness (Dickey was a poet principally and an avid outdoorsman):

    “A slow force took hold of us; the bank began to go backward. I felt the complicated urgency of the current, like a thing made of many threads being pulled, and with this came the feeling I always had at the moment of losing consciousness at night, going toward something unknown that I could not avoid, but from which I would return. I dipped the paddle in.”

    “The river was feathering itself night and day. The rocks were full of feathers, drift on drift; even the downriver sides were streaming and bannered with them. Every shape under the river was a sick off-white; the water around us was full of little prim, dry feathers curled up like things set sail by children, all going at about the same speed we were. And out among them to the right, convoyed by six or eight fathers, was a chicken head with its glazed eye half-open, looking right at me and through me. If there had been more heads it would not have been so remarkable, but I saw only the one, going with us, turning its other eye as though the result of a movement of its gone body, drinking the sad water with a half-opened bill, pinwheeling and floating upside down, then turn over downstream again. I half hit at it with the paddle flat, but it only moved off a foot or so and settled back into the current beside us.”

    “Loading the canoe, I had not really been aware of the water, but now I was. It felt profound, its motion built into it by the composition of the earth for hundreds of miles upstream and down, and by thousands of years. The standing there was so good, so fresh and various and continuous, so vital and uncaring around my genitals, that I hated to leave it.”

    “We went through some deep, quickened water and floated out into a calm broad stretch of a long turn that slid us into a dim underpass of enormous trees, conifers of some kind, spruce or fir. It was dark and heavy in there; the packed greenness seemed to suck the breath out of your lungs. Bobby and I lifted our paddles clear of the river as by a signal and we eased through the place the way the river wanted to go. Intense needles of light shook on the ripples, gold, hot enough to burn and almost solid enough to pick up from the surface like nails.”

    1. Michaelmas

      I used to feel that way about Robinson. There are indeed big chunks of his writing that are deadeningly ‘worthy’ or just deadening — whole novels, in fact, I just don’t bother with, like AURORA where the whole book is programmatically nailed together just to make a questionably tendentious point.

      Yes, he gives himself far too much slack with his ‘the infodumps are the point of SF’ rationale — firstly, they’re often not well-written infodumps and wouldn’t pass muster from a really good science or nature writer and, secondly, it’s a novel and the point of a novel — and the burden on the novelist as artist — is to link the ‘facts’ and ‘reality’ described (or imagined) with the emotional perspectives of the viewpoint characters, and make me, the reader, experience what’s being described in some new and insightful way. As your Dickey example does, though I find that a little clumsy, too, at points.

      Nevertheless, here and there Robinson perks up. The first chapter of MINISTRY OF THE FUTURE, most of NEW YORK 2140 (where he’s not particularly trying to be worthy), GALILEO’S DREAM (provided you’re interested in the awfulness of Vatican politics during Galileo’s time), and PACIFIC EDGE. And when he does he’s good enough — even brilliant — so that it’s worth putting up with the inert porridge to get to the good stuff.

      1. Laura in So Cal

        I read “Red Mars” and wasn’t impressed and didn’t continue with the series. I did pick up “New York 2140” from the library which I enjoyed. However, while the “world building” in “New York 2140” was really interesting, and I thought he could have done more books there-maybe a prequel, the book had the same problem as “Red Mars” The characters felt really flat. I didn’t really care about any of them and they seemed very one-dimensional.

  21. salty dawg

    Re: How do we know the COVID vaccine won’t have long term side effects

    The article is from Feb 23, 2021, so should be judged in light of what was known then. I took a very quick look at NC archives for February and didn’t see any discussions questioning the safety of the vaccines back then. There was some discussion about the *effectiveness* of the AZ vaccine, which had been getting some bad press, and there was an article suggesting vitamins as a supplement to the vaccines.

    Basically, the article says the vaccines are safe, well-tested, and in 200 million injections, serious side effects have been “very, very rare“.

    Mention is made of the results of the clinical trials of the Pfizer and AZ vaccines. No mention is made of USA’s VAERS (but were there many adverse events listed in February?).

    Given the sheer number of vaccines administered to date, common, uncommon and rare side-effects would have been detected by now. What’s more, we’ve been testing these vaccines in clinical trials since mid-2020, and both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have shown excellent safety results.

    In Australia, and internationally, we have robust systems in place to continually monitor vaccine safety, ensuring Australians can be safely afforded the protection that COVID-19 vaccines are designed to provide.

    I don’t think these quotes have aged well :)

    1. norm de plume

      It hasn’t aged well at all but this type of expert boosterism is still a daily feature of our news and opinion, the confident declarations of efficacy and safety changing subtly as the data worsens and the goalposts are shifted by Fauci and co.

      The ‘robust system’ for adverse reaction reporting Australia apparently has consists of a text sent a couple of days after the shot to ask if you’re feeling OK, response voluntary. The data collected will appear on the TGA (our FDA) website which should ‘reassure’ us but how much confidence can be placed in an organisation that approved Remdesivir and outlawed Ivermectin, both deeply suspect decisions, in lockstep with the FDA? The data is gathered too soon and not comprehensively enough to be useful.

      And while withdrawals of vaccines are ‘relatively rare events’, so are vaccines themselves. If you widen the scope to include the other medicines drug companies make the picture is not so pretty. Curious too that the Rotoshield SNAFU is mentioned but the SARS vax’s propensity to cause Guillain-Barre was not. Left unmentioned also is the fact that Rotoshield and the other example cited passed through the usual years-long processes for approval, while the Covid vaccines have not.

      The clinical trials relied upon to back up the article’s claims are those the drug companies funded and co-ordinated, along with the NEJM one they linked to, most of the authors of which appear to be connected to Pfizer or BionTech. There is a link later to a Lancet study partially funded by the Gates Foundation. Money talks, but it can whisper when it needs to. There is no whiff of a COI anywhere, let alone mention of the fact that Astra Zeneca has paid out 543 million USD since 2000 for govt contract related skulduggery. The story with Pfizer and Moderna is no doubt worse, but I suppose that is not relevant when you are yourself part of the industry you are boosting.

      And all the reassuring guff about mRNA being a natural part of living cells might well be true but it is not relevant to concerns about the inflammatory properties of the lipid nanoparticles and the toxicity of the spike protein which, contrary to prior advice, travel all over the body.

      I guess it is harsh to judge an article from February against what we know now, but the gap in knowledge just demonstrates the provisionality of all science. You would think these people might have realised by now that confident pronouncements like ‘the data indicates’ or ‘there is currently no evidence that’ are, or at least should be, potentially dangerous to their reputations. Scientists are very good on what they know, or think they know, but tend to forget that surrounding all their noble efforts is the vastness of the unknown, the caprice of nature, which seems forever to surprise them, as they hastily uproot the goalposts according to the The Science of the Gospel of Tony and shift them to the next (temporarily) safe place from which to make the next set of confident pronouncements.

      The reputations of these constantly shape-shifting scientific poo-bahs are in no danger presently however because social media and the profession of journalism are just as if not more compromised than they are, on the one hand breathlessly and uncritically reporting this week’s pearls of wisdom, minted at the CDC and parroted all the way down the line through these ruggedly independent researchers and medicos, and on the other ruthlessly suppressing any contrary information or opinion.

      If the same authors were writing today, there is at least an outside chance that the word ‘deaths’ might put in an appearance, but no guarantee. The absence of adverse effects and deaths from vaccines in the national discourse finds a dispiriting echo in all of the ‘horse paste’ IVM hit jobs, many by qualified scientists, which somehow manage in often quite long pieces, to avoid mentioning that its discoverer won the Nobel, it’s on the WHO list of 100 essential medicines and that it has been administered to humans 4 billion times with almost no serious complications at all. I suppose it is too much to expect that the contrasting experiences of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh might be reported upon, but surely at least one of the above facts is a requirement for any halfway fair appraisal.

      ‘our confidence about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines is very high’

      Excuse me if that doesn’t exactly flood me with relief. I’m sure the relevant professionals would have boosted Thalidomide and Vioxx when they were released (after the usual long periods of testing) And in any case, how much of the story has Med Sci actually got right in the last 18 months? The goalpost shifting itself is sufficient evidence that you should keep a supply of salt within reach when representatives of ‘The Science’ or ‘the health advice’ open their mouths.

      Such a statement of confidence might end up belonging in the same category as:

      Stock prices have reached what looks like a permanently high plateau

      I came across a relevant quote from Richard Feynman recently:

      Science is the belief in the ignorance of experts

      1. Basil Pesto


        I’m not sure if you know this, but thalidomide is on the WHO list of essential medicines alongside ivermectin.

        The problem with thalidomide, as I understand it, is that it was marketed heavily to the very people who should not have been taking it under any circumstances (pregnant women).

    2. Yves Smith

      Do not misrepresent our record. We have never made a declaration that the vaccines were either safe or unsafe. We don’t give medical advice.

      We posted early on about the clinical trials being too limited. Even STAT criticized the FDA for severe corners-cutting with the statistical review. .

      The vaccines are less safe than the swine flu vaccine, which was yanked for far fewer deaths than have been recorded on VAERS.

      The issue is whether getting vaccinated entails more risk than getting Covid. Covid is a very nasty disease, with a high level who contract the disease being debilitated for months, even a year, with long Covid. New studies also find that most who have gotten Covid, even asymptomatic cases, show some brain function impairment, and that also does not go away quickly, if at all. There is even more evidence of morbidity among Covid survivors, even those who got asymptomatic cases.

  22. lyman alpha blob

    RE: Peyton and Eli Manning Can’t Save the NFL

    So now they’re reduced to just unscripted clowning to try to attract fans? I thought they’d tried that with Dennis Miller years ago and failed miserably.

    ESPN seems intent on making all of their broadcasts unwatchable. It’s bad enough that the nearly universally hated A-Rod has been doing the color on primetime baseball games for a few years now. He is usually in the broadcast booth with a softball (!) player and another play by play announcer and when ESPN pre-empts the local Red Sox broadcast I usually turn down the volume and turn up the radio broadcast so I don’t have to listen to them. I did leave it on during the Sox/Yankees game over the weekend on was presently surprised when the play by play guy told A-Rod on national TV that he had talked to ex-Sox catcher Jason Varitek (the two had had a memorable on-field altercation years ago where A-Rod ended up eating Varitek’s catcher’s mitt) and could report that Varitek still can’t stand him and has no wish to talk to communicate with him ever, IMO echoing the view of most sensible human beings. That was about the only highlight as the Sox lost and the insufferable A-Rod still has his job.

    If A-Rod weren’t bad enough, I turn on the game last night to see the normally phenomenal Max Scherzer pitch and the softball player was calling the game along with another woman with no male broadcaster at all. They spent more time talking about identity politics than the play by play of the game. Billie Jean King was interviewed during the game, for what reason I couldn’t comprehend, and they all talked up how great it was that women were calling a MLB game. I also noticed that they felt it necessary to highlight the fact that Mookie Betts was a great black athlete and how great it was for the Dodgers to have him, seemingly forgetting that it was the Dodgers who broke the color barrier with Jackie Robinson in the first place. Scherzer stunk it up and I blame the announcers!

    I really like Billie Jean King and I applaud athletes like Colin Kapernick taking a political stand (or a knee as the case may be). But when I’m watching a game, I want to hear the announcers talk about the game, not identity politics, and I’d much prefer having an ex-MLB player doing the color. I’d imagine I’m not the only male that feels this way. When griping about it to my wife, she said she couldn’t care less, which was precisely my point – she could give a rip whether women are calling the games since, like I would guess it is for a majority of women, at least the ones I know, she doesn’t really care for pro sports all that much to begin with.

    I really fail to understand why that in order to “empower” women, we need essentially use them as token replacements for men. Rather than remaking movies like Ghostbusters for example with a female cast, why not just make a good new original movie featuring women in the leading roles? If you want to start a women’s pro league for any sport and only allow women to coach, referee, and broadcast it, I’d applaud that too. Women deserve to be treated equally, they deserve equal pay for equal work, and it’s long past due for that to occur. But just because men and women should be treated equally, it does not follow that there are no differences between the sexes and they are interchangeable and no one should notice the difference.

    Is it so bad to want to hear Jon Miller and Joe Morgan (RIP) talk some baseball on a Sunday night? /end rant

  23. Cuibono

    Long covid ties to severe illness.
    Here is a thought: severe illness leads to long side effects no matter what the cause.

  24. Cuibono

    Phillipines the worst? Mortality is a fraction of the US. Cases a fraction of the US. Cost of living a tiny fraction of the US
    etc etc
    this is called News?

  25. Mikel

    “Five Eyes nations set intelligence trap on Wuhan” The Australian

    “US, Chinese militaries hold 2 days of talks, stress the need for more” South China Morning Post

    “The discussions came two weeks after the US announced a new military partnership with Britain and Australia in the Indo-Pacific region, which the Chinese government warned would increase risks of an arms race and a new cold war….”

    I keep saying that all the talk about rising and falling empires (Russia, China, & USA over and over) is missing one still hanging out. Theories should be adjusted accordingly….

    1. Australian Appleman

      Mikel, what does ‘ ..missing one still hanging out’ mean or refer to? I’m not sure if you mean they are missing part of their anatomy or it’s in the wrong place, implying a lack of intelligence. Or if you mean, the talkers referring to empires need to include an additional empire. Thanks

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