Links 10/29/2021

The axolotl: critically threatened in Mexico, but a popular pet in China Dialogo Chino

[FREE] An Interview with Mark Zuckerberg about the Metaverse Stratechery

Meta’physics The Heisenberg Report

The Awesome Hypocrisy of the “Facebook Papers” Moral Panic (excerpt) Matt Taibbi, TK News. The headline is deceptive; “hypocrisy” as an analytical tool is useless, because hypocrisy is so pervasive. Here is Taibbi’s (paywalled) conclusion:

The “goals” aren’t hard to spot. From Democratic Party politicians like Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal to blue-party proxies like Omidyar to the conga line of ratings-freefalling legacy media figures in perpetual sad clown face over the stubborn popularity of conservative digital media, Facebook represents a wilderness of insufficiently regulated communication that needs humiliation and taming, good and hard. As a giant corporation led by an unpopular, on-spectrum billionaire loathed for different reasons on both the left and the right, it can be safely battered without too many tears shed.

Make no mistake, though, the endgame is getting government — maybe through Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig’s creepy suggestion of a congressional “blue ribbon commission” — to bring the information the public sees on Facebook under more and more outside control, almost surely in the name of “safety.” The firm will be painted as a conspirator in the January 6th riots, a harmer of children, a promoter of hate speech, etc. Zuckerberg made the mistake of letting politicians in amid the last media panic of 2016-2017, helping kick off the online censorship era. He should tell these wannabe Stasi agents to take a hike this time. He might be surprised to find out how well that goes over.

As I keep saying, if “disinformation” online were regulated even as lightly as it is now, we would never have known about aerosols, or masking, either, since both were opposed by CDC and WHO. The “safety” at issue here is the class power of the individuals who run those institutions. It had and has nothing to do with public safety.

Rise of informal slums and the next global pandemic (PDF) Journal of Infectious Diseases. From the Abstract: “Informal slums are growing exponentially in the developing world and these will serve as the breeding ground for a future global pandemic. Virtually every sustainable development goal is unmet in slums around the globe thus we must act now to divert a global humanitarian crisis.” I imagine the tent cities of the homeless in the United States could be considered “informal slums,” more than worthy of the “developing world.” It’s a miracle no new variants have emerged from them (assuming we would know if one had).

COP25/Climate Change

UN says the world has eight years to halve emissions China Dialogue

China and India cast pall over climate ambitions ahead of COP26 FT

Russia Has Abandoned Climate Denial and That May Prove Awkward Bloomberg


Evidence of transmission from fully vaccinated individuals in a large outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant in Provincetown, Massachusetts (preprint) PubMed. A CDC paper. From the Abstract: “To characterize the [Provincetown] outbreak and the viral population underlying it, we combined genomic and epidemiological data from 467 individuals, including 40% of known outbreak-associated cases…. [D]espite its magnitude, the outbreak was restricted in its onward impact in MA and the US, likely due to high vaccination rates and a robust public health response.”

Community transmission and viral load kinetics of the SARS-CoV-2 delta (B.1.617.2) variant in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals in the UK: a prospective, longitudinal, cohort study (PDF) The Lancet. n=231. From the Abstract: “The SAR [Secondary Attack Rate] in household contacts exposed to the delta variant was 25% (95% CI 18–33) for fully vaccinated individuals compared with 38% (24–53) in unvaccinated individuals…. (39%) of 31 infections in fully vaccinated household contacts arose from fully vaccinated epidemiologically linked index cases….” IIRC, there’s plenty of anecdotal evidence of masked families in China during lockdown. And that was in pre-Delta days.

* * *

Less than a third of US parents eager to vaccinate young kids against COVID-19 Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

NYPD data shows nearly 50% of cops are unvaccinated in some precincts NY Daily News

* * *

We Ask Dr. Fauci About What He’s Planning For The Next Pandemic The Onion


China’s growing COVID-19 outbreak tests vulnerable border towns Channel News Asia. 250 cases:

I don’t know of any aggregated data on Covid for expats in China. But in principle Wu’s argument is a good one.

Beijing pushes back at US troops on Taiwan but no sudden move expected South China Morning Post

China third-quarter smartphone sales drop 9%, says research firm Channel News Asia

Science and Technology City : Boston Dynamics and Tesla’s New Achievements and Implications for China’s Robot Industry What China Reads. Interesting!


NUG establishes ‘chain of command’ in fight against regime Myanmar Now. The deck: “The move comes amid promises by the shadow government to provide more weapons to anti-junta resistance forces.”

Veteran Arms Dealer Continues to Supply Myanmar Junta The Irrawaddy

Myanmar military uses systematic torture across country AP

For First Time in Public, a Detainee Describes Torture at C.I.A. Black Sites NYT. What a shame the United States “looked forward and not back,” and so has no moral standing or soft power on this issue. More on “black sites” at NC here.


India Deploys U.S. Weapons to Fortify Disputed Border With China Bloomberg

High risk on the high seas, with low rewards People’s Archive of Rural India

Floating farms, salt-resistant rice: Bangladeshis adapt to survive Channel News Asia

The Koreas

Kimchi is Chinese? The Sino-Korean Struggle for Ontological Security The Blue Roof. Not to be confused with “Epistemological Security.”

S.Korea eases curbs in first step toward ‘living with COVID-19’ Reuters


Riyadh Seeks Washington’s Help in Military Defense Al Mayadeen


Is my river fit to play in? The Rivers Trust. Handy map.

UK decries France’s seizure of fishing boat as post-Brexit row deepens Reuters

All of a sudden, Conservatives want to be the worker’s best friend Globe and Mail

Biden Administration

Biden tries, stumbles, selling his domestic agenda into existence Politico. Premature triumphalism:

Negotiating from the left, Pramila Jayapal now at the center of Joe Biden’s agenda Reuters. Jayapal:

I’m amazed that the CPC held together again. That said, since Jayapal et al. have accepted $1.75T in principle, all that remains are concerns about process (and hence “deliver for voters” is a moot point). Perhaps that was the only way to hold the caucus together, since the Democrat leadership’s approach on process has been, to say the least, insulting. On process, one key point was the missing text of the Build Back Better bill–

Dear Colleague on Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and Build Back Better Act Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House. Magically, the text and analysis of the Build Back Better bill appear!

* * *

IRS reporting plan appears doomed after more Democrats oppose it American Banker. “Appears” is why we need the text of the bill.

‘Code of Silence’ Reveals How Courts Systems Protect Federal Judges Accused Of Misconduct Texas Observer

Democrats en Deshabille

Summons charges Cuomo with forcible touching Albany Times-Union. The New York Post‘s version. As a sidebar, one of the more subtle and vicious effects of Google’s algo is to derank local sources, as opposed to global and generic fluff. Why on earth would I want to read about Cuomo at the BBC, when that newsroom doesn’t know the story?


‘Every Turn in This Case Has Been Another Brick Wall, and Behind It Is Chevron’ FAIR


CIA ‘plot’ shows US promises on Assange can’t be trusted, court told Sydney Morning Herald. I don’t know why the shudder quotes round “plot.” More:

L’Affaire Joffrey Epstein

Leon Black Alleges a Conspiracy to Destroy Him on ‘Every Level’ Bloomberg

Imperial Collapse Watch

“The Spoils of War”: How Profits Rather Than Empire Define Success for the Pentagon The Intercept

10 years after ‘the pivot’: Still America’s Pacific century? American Enterprise Institute

Vindicating Realist Internationalism Global Politics and Strategy

Class Warfare

Revolt of the Essential Workers Tablet Magazine (JS).

‘I quit’ is all the rage. Blip or sea change? (interview) Lawrence Katz, Harvard Gazette

How Domestic Labor Robs Women of Their Love Boston Review

Can we defeat death? FT. For a price, no doubt, and for some definition of “death.”

Antidote du jour (via):

See yesterday’s 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. jonboinAR

      That was excellent! I rarely watch a You Tube video all the way through. And a lot of times ’60s music comes off to me as corny while ’70s music (most of “classic rock”) is boring to me now. But that hit the spot!

  1. Helena

    I was reading the Taibbi thing and got confused. I thought it was the monetization of ‘misinformation’ and ‘propaganda’ that is the problem. After all, Zuck would never give info access unless a considerable amount of money would accrue to him as a result. So, would all this have happened on FB if he weren’t such a greedy f*ck?

    1. Wukchumni

      I steered clear of social media as it seemed real skeevy to me and I live vicariously through images of Zuck looking uncomfortable typically in front of politicians. I’ll admit to watching his July 4th ‘Surf with Mark’ video where he was on a hydrofoil and carrying an oversized old glory. You get the feeling he’s trying to undercompensate for other billionaires going into space.

      Was he alphabetically profiled horribly as a youth, does that explain everything?

      1. griffen

        I’m only vaguely familiar with his time at Harvard via the excellent film. One imagines Zuck as a young lad on the west coast, getting picked last or nearly last for games of kickball or dodgeball…and plotting revenge on those surly adolescents and teen football players. One day I will reign over you !

        The outcast becomes a gazillionaire. Can’t call me “Suckerbert” anymore!

  2. Louis Fyne

    re. that Provincetown outbreak…the outbreak was restricted in its onward impact in MA and the US, likely due to high vaccination rates and a robust public health response.”

    How about adding……generally speaking people who visit Provincetown can afford/have the luxury to take 14+ days off to self-quarantine.

    I’d like to see the median/range of household income and age of that cluster and compare it to the national numbers

    1. polar donkey

      The Ozarks were burning with covid since memorial day. You could watch on the NYT covid map. The CDC sent 1 person and had another person zoomed in. By letting Ozarks spiral out of control, covid spread across Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi just in time for summer vacation and trips to the beach on the Gulf. Nice job CDC. I bet they sent more than 1.5 guys to that island.

      1. FluffytheObeseCat

        I’m perfectly willing to blame the CDC for things within their control, like their refusal to press for widespread public mask use and to publicize the impact of airborne spread. However, the agency does not have the power to force states to take up policies it may advocate for. It does not have the power to enact or enforce mask mandates, or to make state or private entities properly clean the air in the buildings they require people to work in.

        A few other points: 1) Provincetown is not on an island. 2) The Lake of the Ozarks area where the summer Covid surge began is not a center of rural poverty; lakefront property owners there are easily as well off as the urban gay men who travel from Boston, Providence, and New York to vacation in Provincetown.

        To be honest about the ways in which working people in the Ozarks were kept from countering this disease, you need to be straight about who exactly impeded them and how. The employers who won’t give them ready time off for getting vaccinated, resting after adverse reactions, or quarantining when ill aren’t usually in Provincetown, or New York. They are living large on big spreads with private airstrips aux environ de Bentonville. Their lesser imitators and petty enforcers are all across the south…. in gated community exurbs on the fringes of sunbelt cities or on lesser spreads outside Nashville, Charlotte, Mobile, Memphis,… etc

    2. HotFlash

      A co-volunteer of mine told me before the vaxx was available that she wasn’t worried about COVID since she was taking so many anti-virals (she is HIV-positive) that the virus wouldn’t stand a chance. Hmm, CDC knows that, US Gov knows that, so maybe nobody told them it was Bear Week?

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Bear Week . . . Bear Week . . . many years ago I was visiting family in Cape Cod and they all said: Let’s go to Provincetown! When we got there, there were signs all over . . . National Bear Week! Welcome Bears! My reaction was to say “what are they talking about? There’s no bears around here. There isn’t a National Park within a hundred miles of here.” Somebody explained that it wasn’t that kind of bears.

        1. Swamp Yankee

          The first bear, as in actual bear, in 350 years as sighted in Provincetown about a decade ago. Apparently swam the Cape Cod Canal and made it out to the Dunes of the Provincelands.

          And to be fair, drumming woodchuckles, all of Provincetown is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, which is run by the National Parks Service.

          But yes, the other type of bear is more common in P town for sure.

  3. NotTimothyGeithner

    So even Kamala Harris was lobbying CPC members yesterday. I guess the stain of Neera is all over the Biden administration. Only a Clintonista would think Harris would be able to successfully lobby anyone.

    1. Nikkikat

      Got a good laugh re: only a Clintonista would think Harris would be able to successfully lobby anyone. Sneera’s fingerprints are every where.

      1. Craig H.

        I try not to pay attention to this but that picture of the Vice President was funnier than a Quayle.

        Those are not snow leopards. Good looking animals though. Much shinier than axolotls.

        1. Craig H.

          And on further review I see that is a picture of Jayapal, not Harris. Do they go to the same hair place? Anybody know of a good photo of Harris’ trip?

          1. Helena

            LOL! I do my own hair these days, and I am having fun imagining just who you would mistake me for.

      2. NotTimothyGeithner

        Klain liked and retweeted a point agreeing with the cpc position. My guess is Neera has been slithering and making promises that she could win over progressives. Biden stupidly took it.

        After HRC 2008, why anyone would listen to Clinton hacks is beyond belief. Yep, 2008.

        1. Bart Hansen

          Neera Beera and others like DWS gave us the failed candidate in 2016 and things have continued downhill ever since. Two straight presidential elections where someone ‘whose turn it is’ is placed before the electorate.

          At least the Wasserman woman had the humility to retreat to the tall grass, but not our Neera.

          Can you imagine what these people will do for the 2024 election?

        2. drumlin woodchuckles

          Do they still have the power of extortion and punishment? Do they still inspire fear in any quarters of the party? Is a threat from one of them still considered a message from all the biggest Donor Money?

      3. Marylou

        “successfully lobby anyone”
        How do you think she got her start?

        “When Brown got to know Harris was running for president in 2019, he wrote a column in the San Francisco Chronicle stating, “Yes, we dated. It was more than 20 years ago. Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commission when I was Assembly speaker.”

        “Brown was speaker of the California State Assembly for 15 years. It was during the same period during which, he appointed Harris to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Medical Assistance Commission.”

        1. Helena

          I got a little chill when I read she was on these, don’t know why: “Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Medical Assistance Commission.”

  4. Wukchumni

    Rep. Katie Porter Grills Big Oil Execs

    We’re all of course complicit (avoids brickbats from those 213 people in the world that don’t rely on oil) in our addiction to the spice that makes everything flow, and you don’t see a lot of octane 12 step groups trying to rectify the situation…

    ‘I’m Wukchumni and i’m powerless over my addiction to gas powered implements’

    We’re gonna power through 2 degrees c and double up on our efforts to not leave it in the ground, you get the feeling.

    Anyway, what a bulldog Katie is, and the personalized license plate with OVRSTTE on her minivan is a bit on the zealous side, but matches her zeal in speaking truth to power.

    1. Wukchumni


      Katie appears to be a prepper with a predilection towards storing large quantities of rice in her minivan, perhaps in case she’s going on a Rocky Horror Picture Show marathon movie roadtrip?

      1. ambrit

        So that’s where all the rice and toilet paper went. It is creeping up on Halloween; when all the ‘closet’ Rocky Horror Party Goers come out to play.

    2. The Rev Kev

      I feel for your addiction as I too use it on a daily basis. Just can’t get that petrochemical monkey off my back. Back in 1936 they came out with the film “Reefer Madness”- (1:38 mins)

      So does this mean that by 2036 that they will come out with a video called “Petrochemical Madness”?

          1. John Zelnicker

            Thanks, Rev, for both of those clips.

            The Reefer Madness one brings back fond memories of the ’60’s and
            ’70’s, when it was still being played regularly as a PSA.

            For those unfamiliar, this film was used by Harry Anslinger, the head of the Bureau of Narcotics, in his efforts to build a national law enforcement agency to compete with the FBI under J. Edgar Hoover.

            Although the DEA is now a bit less political than the FBI (they don’t entrap Muslims in terrorist plots), they are equally dangerous to our rights.

    3. drumlin woodchuckles

      How complicit are you, really? Did you make the decisions to destroy America’s deep and broad coverage of rail transport in America’s bonfire of the trains, trolleys and streetcars? Were you part of the plot to destroy EV1?

      Are you complicit? Or are you a hostage?

      Some people revel in the artificial shame of “being complicit” so they don’t have to face up to the real fear and helplessness of being a hostage.

      ( Though if you buy anything from Amazon, you are totally complicit in Amazon. I will give you that).

  5. Nikkikat

    Revolt of the essential workers, very good article. Places blame where it belongs for a change.
    Antidote du jour: incredible photo big cats. Thanks!

  6. Ghost in the Machine

    Less than a third of US parents eager to vaccinate young kids against COVID-19 Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy

    2/3 of the 33% of the parents who said they definitely would not get their kids vaccinated were worried about future fertility issues. Well, I know for sure that the sea of endocrine disruptors, micro plastics, and who knows what other toxins we exist daily in are currently affecting fertility, at least as measured by sperm counts. Fertility issues might also not be important for their future grown up children if they forego children of their own due to depression about the future, which I read is rising among young adults.

    1. vidimi

      the number of youth identifying as trans may be a similar symptom. of course, there may be social issues at play as well (increased acceptance), but decreased sperm counts are just one effect of all those factors you listed.

    2. Louis Fyne


      1. healthy children are very, incredible unlikely to develop bad outcomes if they get infected with covid;…according to UK data only a few in one million will need to be hospitalized due to covid versus the dozen in one million that develop heart inflammation;
      2. The data says that the vaccines don’t (or very marginally) reduce viral load among the vaccinated…so even having kids vaccinated makes little difference to protect grandma.

      so IMO, every marginal vaccines should be sent to the unvaccinated in America or the developing world, not American kids (outside of those with pre-existing conditions and parents who really want the vaccine)

      IMO, YMMV. have been thinking about this as I have skin on the game too. I am vaccinated, but from a public policy and moral POV in makes more sense to vaccinate the developing world first. until we get a few more years of data on the long-term effects on kids.

      1. Basil Pesto

        1. healthy children are very, incredible unlikely to develop bad outcomes if they get infected with covid;…according to UK data only a few in one million will need to be hospitalized

        [citation needed]. hospitalisation is inadequate as the sole measure of this. Pernicious long covid has been observed in infected children.

  7. Ghost in the Machine

    Regarding Marks metaverse, there are about 50000 neurons in each cubic mm of cortex, each with 1000s of connections. The best microelectrode arrays sample from a few 10s, maybe a 100 on a good day. And that is only large spiking activity, not all the fine activity in the dendrites. Then there is the problem that the electrodes are foreign bodies which the body starts to encapsulate with fibrous tissue making long term stable recordings very difficult. Even ‘disguising’ the implants with organic coatings does not prevent the mechanical mismatch between electrode and tissue from causing a reaction. The metaverse will never be more than awkward goggles on your face and obvious superficial interaction. They may make the goggles more streamlined like in Snowcrash, and that will be marketed as revolutionary. And we are still largely in the dark about how the nervous system combines all the external and internal sensory information arriving to the brain via numerous pathways at different locations in the brain to give rise to the emergent sense of consciousness. The hope is we will crudely implant a ridiculously small array into one or a few parts of the brain and the miracle of brain plasticity (it is impressive) will allow our nervous systems to eventually make sense of the new input. For as long as the foreign body is not rejected by the immune system. We do not need to worry about the brain in the vat problem mentioned in the Heisenberg report. It is a childish fantasy given the current state of technology. Although it is good to talk about the pathologies of an economy increasingly devoted to escapism.

    1. Mikel

      And we’re going to sit back and watch this trial and error on a mass scale – with people’s brains – that benefits the SillyCon Valley boys. Nobody is asking how much training with neurology each person on this project has and not much pointing out how much of the unknown they are dealing with.

      1. drumlin woodchuckles

        Those of us who are able to remain part of the control population should definitely remain so.

        Those who choose to be part of Muck the Zuck’s experimental population are likewise free to do that.

        And let Darwin decide who chose unwisely.

    2. jr

      Great comment. My fear is that when they fail to capture the richness of consciousness, they will simply define things down as they have been doing so already. Virtual “relationships”, virtual “girlfriends”, and now virtual “consciousness”. Their whizz-bang VR helmet can only capture 1/10000th of a fraction of what actually goes on in your head? They will define that fraction as what actually is going on in your head.

      Materialism must burn. It’s at the heart of everything that ails the world, in one way or another. This is where the spiritual revolution will start.

      1. jr

        Speaking of which, here is a show featuring Chris Hedges on the coming social upheavals. This show’s narrator is ok but he isn’t the point. According to a study Hedges quotes, it’s only ever taken 1-5% of a society’s population to overturn the power structure. It doesn’t come from the poor, who are trapped, but from disaffected middle class and lower wealthy classes who are losing their power and freedoms as well:

        1. JBird4049

          It is not just the 1-5% strictly that overturn the power structure, it is that they become the leadership that enables the deed, but without the energy or effort, even just the acceptance of the lower classes, they can not succeed.

      2. Ghost in the Machine

        I agree. That is why I feel like I am a ghost in the machine. Many times when I find myself irritated by a situation, upon reflection it occurs to me that I have been altering my natural inclinations to adjust to the limitations of a machine, especially computers. Automated phone help lines being a common more trivial example. Medical charting and billing via predetermined digital forms being another. Hell, the travesty of mainstream economics is largely due to the mechanized conception of the human and economy. Consciousness is not software running on hardware (a machine). The brain is an evolved complex dissipative structure with emergent properties like consciousness. We are still floundering around trying to understand it. 100s of years ago scientists envisioned the nervous system as a pneumatic system of tubes, then in the 1800s it was a bunch of gears. Now it is a computer, and many people think this is sophisticated, although theoretically computers can be implemented as a bunch of gears. Many neuroscientist and physicists understand this. It has been proven for some complicated networks that the emergent patterns arising at the whole network level from all the interactions is noncomputational in a Turing sense. And the brain is way way more complicated than those networks.

        1. Maritimer

          One of the definitions of machine is:
          “6. An organized group of people whose members are or appear to be under the control of one or more leaders: a political machine.”

          Thus, under the definition above, there is not much of Human Life that is not controlled, dictated and mandated by machines.

          Another interesting thought is that a machine might also be two Humans together moving a rock fifty thousand years ago.

      3. Helena

        I don’t believe the “richness of consciousness” is what they are trying to capture. After all the decades of ‘dumbing down” this is just harvesting profits from it.

        1. jr

          Agreed, I just think that’s what they will sell it as. If AI’s are considered alive then the definition of alive is degraded. Then humans will be held to the altered standard, defining experiential reality as such. Materialism must burn, this is where the spiritual conflict that’s coming will be centered I believe.

  8. Questa Nota

    Britannica entry about bidonville: (French: “tin can city”) name given, especially in Francophone North Africa to the poorest slum quarters of rapidly growing, unplanned cities. Chiefly inhabited by largely unemployed squatters, these shantytowns largely consist of ramshackle constructions made from cinder blocks and sheet metal, many of which lack basic running water and sewage disposal. The name comes from the custom of using discarded oil drums (French: bidons) as building material.

    America counters with Bidenville, where barely-functional or immobilized old recreational vehicles are joined by tents, tarpaulins and other materials to provide some semblance of shelter from the elements. Often characterized by display of occupant’s worldly goods on the sidewalk or parking spot. Those also lack basic running water and sewage disposal.

    A sad arms race.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Floating farms, salt-resistant rice: Bangladeshis adapt to survive”

    This is a great article this showing some of the possibilities with dealing with a changed world. And a lot of it is on a local level with authorities learning from them some different possibilities. And reviving those stacked rafts was a stroke of genius and it is all made of biodegradable natural materials which are easily replenished. The funny thing is that there is no sign of Bill Gates coming in to show them how it should be done by using layers of plastic & fiberglass in those rafts with each raft connected to the internet for analysis for maximum results displayed on those farmer’s mobile phones. Nor is the World bank showing up announcing that they will make micro-loans to finance their work – using next year’s crop as collateral – on the condition that they must only use genetically modified seeds. One would suspect that this is why those farmers are successful because of the absence of these actors.

    1. Mantid

      There are sheep that graze on salt laden grasses and reeds growing along the coast and into the estuaries in Normandy, France. They are some of the best tasting when eaten. If they can live on it perhaps we could cross pollinate, in some form, these grasses and reeds with forms of rice to evolve a rice that can grow in salt water? And regarding bill gates, it’s best if he can’t be involved due to other commitments.

    2. Vandemonian

      I fund a number of rolling micro loans through I’ve just asked them why there are no loans currently in Bangladesh.

      It’s probably because they don’t have approved partner organisations locally.

  10. Verifyfirst

    Sad. The progressives begging for a little “process” Vaseline to make their crushing defeat go down easier. They seem to be genuinely stunned at what was done to them, even to “play along to get along” Bernie and his dental and vision benefits….

    Federal legislators pretty much never see what’s in the bill–remember John Conyers explaining that to Michael Moore? “Michael, you think we read these things? That’s not how it works up here….” or something to that effect.

    They won’t have real power until they are prepared to torpedo the whole thing, as Manchin is willing to do.

    1. ambrit

      Yes. The American left must learn the concept of the “Will to Power” before they will accomplish anything worth being proud of.

      1. Nikkikat

        I don’t think they want to accomplish anything other than keeping their cushy jobs and of course the committees they sit on at the present time. No one with any principles or morality would do the theatrical show these people put on. This includes the sheep herding Bernie. This has been one big performance for the little people nothing else.

        1. Verifyfirst

          Ilhan Omar had the best quote–“follow the money” if you want to see what came out of the bill.

          I have wondered why the progressives have not focused on the explicit subsidy to Manchin’s coal company in the other bill–500 million? I forget the number, but there is only one coal company in his state that does what his does (reclaimed coal? I forget), so only he gets the subsidy.

          In any case, they should draw a line under that–if all this other stuff comes out cuz Manchin says so, then that subsidy comes out too. End of story. Plus it would be fun to watch Manchin try to hang on to it…..

        2. Helena

          If I hadn’t greatly benefited from Bernie-type policies, I would succumb to the ‘sheep-herding’ thing. If he got a big enough group in actual gubmint to stick it out through the pressure, something would happen. If all the public people who support him could make an impression on this ‘Progessive Caucus’ something would happen. It ain’t gonna happen any more, looks like.

        3. Michael McK

          Ambrit said “American left”, but few of them keep cushy jobs or sit on committees (aside from Community Center committees and what not). I think y’all are referring to Liberals.

          1. ambrit

            Well, I did modify the word “left” with the adjective, ‘American,’ as distinct from other parts of the world. Perhaps, in the help of clarity of exposition, I should have capitalized the ‘L’ in ‘left.’ that would have indicated that I meant a particular case of the condition of ‘leftist.’

    2. Pelham

      Exactly! I don’t see how the CPC “standing firm” on the process of getting the two bills passed is in any way significant at this stage — after the reconciliation bill has been whittled down a pitiable shard of what it was supposed to be. Wouldn’t it be better for Jayapal et al to simply come out and say that they’ve gone to disgusting defeat. Or better yet, to admit that they’re a bunch of phonies.

  11. Jesper

    About: All of a sudden, Conservatives want to be the worker’s best friend
    I think that what we are seeing is a bit of a dance :-)

    The labour/social-democratic parties appear to have had the strategy to woo the upper-middle-class voters by advocating and implementing policies that benefit the upper-middle-class at the expense (someone always pays) of the voters who made up their traditional base. Their calculations might have been that the traditional base has nowhere else to go and if that were to be true then it is a no-loss but possible gain strategy.

    The conservatives appear to have noticed the change and they might have decided to do their own calcualtions. Lose one traditional voter and have the chance of winning two or maybe even three voters for every vote lost. If so then it makes sense (for the ones who seek power) to advocate and implement policies that benefit the workers.

    There is a link to an article about being a nanny and that might be a good example. Policies that benefit the nanny would come at the expense of the employer of the nanny and vice versa. There are more voters serving the upper-middle-class than there are members of the upper-middle-class. Think nannies, gardeners, delivery workers etc etc.

    There seems to be a desire to means-test benefits. However, rarely if ever, are the benefits that only the well off can afford to use means tested. Think mortgage-interest relief, relief for saving for pensions, tax-credit for buying expensive electric cars, some countries have tax-relief for private health-insurance.
    Most of those only benefit the well off as the poor can’t afford to avail of them but I’d say that the biggest beneficiaries are for mortgage interest relief then it benefits the banks/lenders more than anyone else and so on.

    A dance around the mythical middle ground, the class interests sometimes align across classes but I’d say that most of the time the interests of the different income-classes are opposed. The ones who want the votes of the many might do well in finding out what the many want and implement such policies. The difficulty might be to avoid being called ‘populists’ by the ever so credible economists (who are paid by the well off).

    1. lance ringquist

      nafta billy clinton actually said they have no where else to go. we fooled him and stayed home, or voted for trump.

      Bill Clinton famously declared that disgruntled democrats had nowhere else to go. In 2016, the angry mob felt obliged to prove him wrong: Democratic support in the key Rust Belt states collapsed as a huge number of Democrats stayed home or (to a lesser extent) voted for a third party.

  12. Wukchumni

    Is my river fit to play in? The Rivers Trust. Handy map.
    We hadn’t played nor even attempted frolic in our swimming hole the past few months as an all encompassing underwater green smurf had taken over with florescent algae blooms like i’ve never seen heretofore, largely on account of the drought and 4 separate heat waves in the early summer, I reckon.

    But that was then and a fleet enema of sorts came rushing down from the mountain earlier in the week and adios algae blooms and in its place, a dirty river celebrating the first flows of substance in 8 months.

    1. griffen

      Algae blooms; used to read about those often enough, unfortunately, while in North Carolina. Most common to those rivers flowing downstream from large, industrial ag installations like hog farms. Those rivers empty into the coastal waterways, and then poof; you get giant fish kills. All that hog waste (or other feedlot and farming waste) is a bonus dosage of nitrogen.

      Below is a link I recall learning about before; I am sure any water-minded river or lake kayak / canoe enthusiast will have or should have known about them. I have little direct knowledge about the water keeper organization.

      1. Wukchumni

        No industry above me for the next 405,000 acres for the last 130 years, so can’t blame it on the usual suspects.

      2. Michael McK

        We get blooms of neurotoxic Anabaena (a Genus of bluegreen algae) during low flows on the our river. Every once in a while it kills dogs who get it on their fur and lick it off. To our north their are different liver toxic algae.

    2. Judith

      Roger Deakin wrote “Waterlog A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain” over twenty years ago. I just started reading it and in the first 100 pages have only encountered any mention of pollution once. He would be sad, I think, rather than angry, at the plan to deliberately poison the rivers and streams of the UK.

      It was at the height of this drenching summer of 1996 that the notion of a long swim through Britain began to form itself. I wanted to follow the rain on its meanderings about our land to rejoin the sea, to break out of the frustration of a lifetime doing lengths, of endlessly turning back on myself like a tiger pacing its cage. I began to dream of secret swimming holes and a journey of discovery through what William Morris, in the title to one of his romances, called “The Water of the Wondrous Isles.” My inspiration was John Cheever’s classic short story ‘The Swimmer,’ in which the hero, Ned Merrill, decides to swim the eight miles home from a party on Long Island via a series of his neighbors’ swimming pools. One sentence in the story stood out and worked on my imagination. ‘He seemed to see, with a cartographer’s eye, that string of swimming pools, that quasi-subterranean stream that curved across the country.’

      And see:

  13. Carolinian


    Commercial news outlets, not Facebook, have been the chief architects of the panic era. They’ve spent six years now coaching Trump-era audiences to act like roulette addicts endlessly trying to win back a loss, begging them to stay at the table and just move their chips from one “existential threat” or “apocalypse” to the next. From Russiagate to Treason in Helsinki to kids in cages to Bountygate to the Great Toilet Paper Shortage of 2020 to the “pandemic of the unvaccinated” and the “biggest threat against democracy since the Civil War,” audiences have fallen into a freakout and stayed there. They wake up knowing nothing, but by noon demand the biggest available policy weapon be fired in the shortest possible time frame, at problems they only just heard about, with the zero-to-defund trajectory of the George Floyd story typifying the pattern. Just as quickly, the same people forget and move on, trying on new terrors like shoes

    I’m not a Facebooker but the notion that the public gets their news and opinions from Facebook has always seemed dubious. Surely the source of our current hysteria is much more likely CNN, NBC News and its MSNBC spawn, Fox News or even PBS News Hour–in other words television. And these sources absent Fox are often mainlining the latest PTB messaging found in WaPo and NYT. If Facebook wanted to curb dangerous misinformation the above would be the place to start. Pretending that the country is under threat from obscure rightwing websites is merely part of the propaganda distraction..

      1. MK

        I ordered a chair from a Facebook ad last year. Never arrived from China. Tried to get a refund, the website was by then offline. No phone numbers. Tried to e-mail, no response. Contacted my credit card, the time to dispute had passed.

        I’m 99% sure it was a total scam from the get-go. Collect as much money as fast as they could, then shut it all down and wait out the credit card dispute timeline.

        It’s almost too easy in hindsight.

    1. Dr. John Carpenter

      My mom and her cohorts (70+ year olds) do ingest a lot of Fox, etc. But I can’t tell you the number of times when I ask for a source for whatever outrage du jour they’re on about and the answer is “I read it on Facebook.” YMMV, but I think for a certain demographic, Facebook is at least a close second to cable news as a source for news and information.

      1. Socal Rhino

        Given the number of times acquaintances have shared outraged commentary with links to various sources (Fox or MSNBC, but more frequently web sites), and I’ve gone to look at the source only to find the material doesn’t match the aggrieved claim, I conclude that FB use adds to the pots being stirred.

      2. Mantid

        OK, “I never look cool doing anything,” (Chris Taylor, Dodgers) so I’ll admit I don’t know what “YMMV” means. Can I join the club?

        1. mary jensen

          Mantid, “YMMV” escapes me as well but I know you know what CT3 means!

          He’s far too modest, he looks great at the plate.

          1. jonboinAR

            I just wrote on the Dodgers fan-site that I go to that Taylor is the “must sign” of all their free-agents. Seager, I’m afraid is just too expensive for what he’s going to demand.

      3. Mildred Montana

        @Dr. John Carpenter

        “At any given moment, public opinion is a chaos of superstition, misinformation and prejudice.”

        Gore Vidal wrote these words in 1969 when newspapers and TV monopolized public opinion. Nothing has changed in fifty years except that more and more people are choosing to get their “superstition, misinformation, and prejudice” from social media. Same chaos, different medium, and the MSM is really only concerned about losing its long-standing position as master of the chaos.

      4. CanCyn

        “I read it on Facebook.”
        Jeez, that’s like saying “I read it in a newspaper” or “I saw it on the news”
        Who said it in FB? Whose page or site were you on? Honestly – people gotta learn to cute their sources!

  14. Glossolalia

    Zuckerburg’s metaverse video yesterday looked so outdated. I felt like I was watching someone’s vision of an online world as imagined in 1995.

    Could anyone over the age of 10 find that appealing? Then again, maybe that’s the demographic they’re going aiming at and planning for the next decade.

    1. Darthbobber

      I have an old text on Interface Design from about 15 years ago, crammed with images of then “cutting edge” design. All of which looks positively ancient by now.

      Zuckerberg’s “vision” of the future has the same effect on me as leafing through that. It’s the past’s take on the future.

    2. Basil Pesto

      for me there was a very “last roll of the dice” feel about it.

      about 12 years ago I was predicting fb would go the way of myspace and would become suitably chastened when I recalled the prediction. Now I’m wonder if I wasn’t right, just 10 years or so out.

  15. Mikel

    “We Ask Dr. Fauci About What He’s Planning For The Next Pandemic” The Onion

    The Onion again hitting me with “crying so hard, that I could laugh” humor:

    The Onion: What goes into planning a pandemic?

    Fauci: I’m glad you asked, because it’s not so simple as releasing deadly viral pathogens into the air or water. Pandemics are created over time, as a result of millions of discrete decisions to, say, systematically deprive your population of functional healthcare, or encourage people to believe misinformation to the extent that a massive part of the population won’t believe anything an authority tells them. So in that case, the Covid epidemic took a while to prepare, but fortunately all the conditions that made this pandemic so successful are getting even better—for the next pandemic, that is.

    Yep, there are actually people thinking that Covid “is solved” now.

  16. Cat Burglar

    According to Reuters, Pramila Jayapal represents a “coastal swath of Washington State.” Think of the wet firs, underneath the grey layer of low marine clouds — how remote from New York and DC! What could the people there be like, so far away from it all? In fact, her district is most of metropolitan Seattle, most of downtown, the University of Washington, and Amazon headquarters, a fact checkable in less than five minutes.

  17. Marco Bevaglio

    While dining at a Japanese restaurant in Portland, Oregon I noticed kimchee on the menu as a side and asked about it. The very Japanese owner informed me with utmost confidence that the Koreans stole the idea from the Japanese and not the other way around. The “Japanese” kimchee was milder than Korean but I like pretty much any kimchee.

    1. Helena

      “Stole” eh? That seems like an odd thing to say.

      The earliest record of vegetable fermentation dates back as far as 6000 BC in the Fertile Crescent—and nearly every civilization from the Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, Belarusian, Latvian, Estonian, Indian, Asian and African has included at least one fermented food in its culinary heritage.

      I love kimchee, and have had the ‘authentic’ given to me by Korean acquaintences, which is really spicy. Funny, they never laid claim to its origin.

  18. Mike

    RE: Rise of informal slums and the next global pandemic (PDF)

    The note (attached by Lambert?) [“It’s a miracle no new variants have emerged from them (assuming we would know if one had”)] hits the mark – we do not know because much of real life and the studies upon it are held by profit-seeking organizations bent on making us pay to access it. Secrecy and control are hand-in-glove. This goes for government and the media, who play along and abet such controls via secrecy.

  19. jr

    re: axolotl’s

    I wonder if we aren’t at a place where we need to start to provide direct care for whatever animal and plant populations that we can. I’m not saying this is a good thing and heaven knows so many creatures will be lost but is anything else going to change? Is Mexico City going to stop encroaching on the axolotl’s territory? Maybe if Mexican society collapses but nothing else will stop it.

    I’ve long wondered if someone with the money and pull should bring elephants back to North America. Imagine someone going around and buying up elephants from zoos, circuses, etc. then fencing off as big an area as possible and trying to form a herd of them. African and Indian elephants that cannot make it in their natural habitats due to injury etc. could be brought over to keep the genetics fresh. For the colder regions, we could mingle some of that mammoth DNA and get ’em fur coats.

    jr, wildly overcaffeinated

    1. griffen

      Interesting article, I had not heard of that species or that (for me anyway) it bears a passing semblance to some random cutesy furry animal or a beanie baby. Good example of how encroachment and habitat changes have dramatic effect. I’ve seen small salamanders slithering under foot in the nearby parks of western NC or the upstate SC. They’re easy to miss.

      As to the elephants, well I suspect those with the pull and resources are the ones trying to wreck what’s left of our natural world, our economic order and / or moving into space as their next frontier to conquer.

    2. JBird4049

      The idea of rewilding North America with elephants is not completely crazy. The suggestion has been floating around for at least two decades. I am not sure even the re-(semi)desertification of the Great Plains would be a block as elephants are known to live in live in deserts or at least their fringes; the long lives, great intelligence, and fantastic memories enables them to find the odd, long lasting waterholes while migrating.

    3. Helena

      I’m with you Jr! My sadness is that, ‘animals’ wander, just like humans do. Indigenous peoples lived with the wandering of all living beings. We would have to limit the ‘wanderings’ of any animals we want to ‘save’ to save them from the indignant pushback of people who would say their ‘wanderings’ are costing them money. Any efforts, however salutary, will be inherently selfish where humans are concerned. Not to say we shouldn’t be hoping for better times in the future. Namaste.

  20. Pookah Harvey

    -In the spirit of the old Chinese proverb “they who say something is impossible should not interrupt those doing it” someone should really call China and tell them that #COVID19 elimination is impossible-
    Guardian headline: (Tue 26 Oct 2021)
    China locks down city of 4m people after six Covid cases detected

  21. FriarTuck


    Make no mistake, though, the endgame is getting government — maybe through Harvard professor Lawrence Lessig’s creepy suggestion of a congressional “blue ribbon commission” — to bring the information the public sees on Facebook under more and more outside control, almost surely in the name of “safety.”

    I’m of two minds of this whole thing.

    As Lambert and Yves (et al) can attest, a moderated environment is necessary to maintain a healthy forum.

    I’m not sure a government can or should compel a company or site to have a moderated, healthy forum – but the consequences of not having a moderated forum the size and scope of Facebook are so giantly large that it creates society-wide toxicity and unrest.

    But I’m not sure how else to do it other than government mandate. The profit uber alles motive requires Facebook and other potential warrens of toxicity to do as little as they can get away with to moderate their forums. It becomes exponentially worse when their algos actually promote the toxicity.

    While it may ostensibly conflict with the first amendment, plenty of other industries have been put under scrutiny, either through decency laws or self-governing organizations. I don’t see why Facebook and other media companies shouldn’t be subject to similar strictures.

  22. Randy G

    Enjoyed the article on axolotls, which are a fascinating species nearing extinction in Mexico because of habitat destruction, introduced predators, and horrific water pollution. They are actually tiger salamanders, widespread in the U.S., that evolved to reproduce in the juvenile form, which is referred to as neoteny or paedomorphism.

    Despite being critically endangered in the wild, axolotls are probably more viable than U.S. “democracy”– and certainly more pleasant to look at.

  23. Helena

    Leon Black Alleges a Conspiracy to Destroy Him on ‘Every Level’

    Alas, the ‘gentlemen’s agreement’ to enable abuse of certain sorts was not honored in his case? What the hey is the world coming to?

  24. Maritimer

    ‘Code of Silence’ Reveals How Courts Systems Protect Federal Judges Accused Of Misconduct Texas Observer
    That sure reads like a “conspiracy” to me. But if it is, I am sure there are no other conspiracies in the Federal Courts regarding Oil or Tech companies or politics for instance.

    ‘Code of Silence’ a pleasant way of saying Omerta; I wonder if Badabing Inc. has a patent for that. Lawsuit coming?

  25. drumlin woodchuckles

    About government controlling what input goes onto Facebook, it is a bad precedent designed to license government to decide what input is allowed onto Naked Capitalism. It should be fought for that reason. The better alternative would be to exterminate Facebook from existence and wipe it off the face of the earth.
    That way, the Facebook-specific problems of digitally amplified mass mob violence can be stopped without censoring media in general.

    As to the users of Facebook themselves, people who use Fecebook deserve whatever input they get. Let them eat Fece the way they have shown they like by supporting Fecebook. People who want better can find better outlets.

  26. George Phillies

    Class warfare

    For many years, some sources have pointed out that the two-worker family is little better off than the one-worker family: Second worker needs second car, clothes, child care support, and too tired to cook means expensive takeout and prepared foods. Net can be little extra income

    Now people have been dropped back in some cases to one income, and realize that life is not very different. One must work hard to clip coupons, etc., plan meals, skip expensive restaurants, motion pictures, etc. Perhaps cut the cable…. And suddenly one income is much better than expected. Those people may not return to the labor force.

  27. jr

    re: defeating death

    I for one do not wish to live beyond my allotted time. I’m not seeking out death but I don’t think the human psyche could handle immortality. A whole new set of monsters to contend with.

  28. newcatty

    Agree. These people have conscience and are not narcistic, selfish persons who are willing to live a more simple and rewarding family life. Sadly, there are many who do not. Many of the one income earners place personal desires first, above family. The kids and other spouse, partner, pay the costs. Also, let’s not forget the clever under the table workers are adept at keeping their declared income for the tax man under poverty line for Medicaid, SNAP, etc. With that source of net not going to basic expenses, nice cash in the pocket. Often allowing money for housing , nice autos, eating out, trips, etc. While many low wage and lower middle income workers pay for crappified health insurance ( co-pays, etc.) and struggle for basics like rent, decent food and utilities. Until we face the reality of this disparity, the class warfare will be taking interesting turns.

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