Links 11/13/21

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Cats can track your ‘invisible presence’ using only their ears CNN (Jim D)

The Evolutionary Quirk That Allows Antarctica’s Icefish To Survive Extreme Cold Atlas Obscura (Chuck L)

An Astronomer Cancels His Own Research—Because the Results Weren’t Popular Quillette (Chuck L)

Simple, low-cost, high volume distiller removes salt from seawater using solar energy Brighter Side (David L)

Africa’s ‘Great Green Wall’ shifts focus to hold off desert Associated Press (David L)

How an upgrade on calculus is taking maths into uncharted territory New Scientist (Dr. Kevin)

Veterans Have Become Unlikely Lobbyists in Push to Legalize Psychedelic Drugs New York Times (resilc)

Using mechanical tools improves our language skills, study finds Science Daily (Kevin W)

Meta-analysis suggests that emotional intelligence is declining among college students PsyPost (Chuck L)



After J&J, more people ‘mix and match’ with Pfizer or Moderna booster NBC (furzy)


China’s top disease expert lays down conditions for post-pandemic normal South China Morning Post. From subhead: “….and no let-ups in epidemic control.”

The Nightmare of Testing Positive on Arrival in Thailand Revue (furzy)


Norway To Reinstate National Measures As Virus Surges Barron’s (J-LS). We predicted that when Norway went into “Mission Accomplished” mode, they would have to roll it back.

COVID-19’s epicentre again: Europe faces fresh reckoning Reuters (J-LS). Remember that the US opened up international travel to the fully vaccinated…even though the current Covid vaccines do little to nothing to prevent transmissions, as confirmed by surges in countries and counties with very high vaccine rates, plus the lack of correlation between vaccination and Covid case levels.

Netherlands imposes lockdown measures as Covid cases hit new high Guardian (Kevin W)

Disease center urges Germans to cancel or avoid big events Associated Press (J-LS)


Federal appeals court halts Biden administration’s vaccine requirement, delivering policy a major blow Washington Post (J-LS)

‘They tell you what you want to hear’: people buying fake vaccine cards get scammed themselves Guardian (resilc)

Study finds that in much of the US, virtual school did not lower COVID-19 case rates in surrounding communities MedicalXPress (Robert M). Including only because even if true, no longer relevant. Study period well before Delta became dominant.

COP26/Climate Change

Climate Change vs. the Sino-American Cold War Project Syndicate

This 1985 Video Of Carl Sagan Warning Congress About Climate Change Is Sobering To Watch In 2021 Digg (David L)


China’s Global Network of Vocational Colleges to Train the World The Diplomat (resilc). “Whoever controls the education of our children controls the future.”


Delhi pollution: Vehicular emission contributes most to pollution in city, shows study Scroll


Brexit: UK looks likely to trigger Article 16 – then what? BBC (Kevin W)

Article 16: the threats, the retaliation, the risks Tony Connelly, RTE

Welcome to Brexit 2.0 Chris Grey

Exclusive: Geoffrey Cox opposed tax havens crackdown after making £220k from Cayman Islands law firm Mirror

New Cold War

<Belarus and the Migrant Gap Irrusianality (Chuck L)


Iran-backed Houthis breach U.S. Embassy compound in Sanaa, Yemen Washington Post (resilc)

New Great Game in the Caucasus and Central Asia Asia Times (Chuck L)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Securing your digital life, part one: The basics ars technica (David L)

Imperial Collapse Watch

How Taiwan Underwrites the US Defense Industrial Complex The Diplomat (resilc)


How Many Wars Does Joe Biden Want to Fight? 19FortyFive (resilc)

Joe Manchin Wants to Sabotage the $12,500 EV Tax Credit Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Cuomo Sparred With Investigators Over Meaning of ‘Girlfriend,’ ‘Date’ — and ‘Butt’ THE CITY


Where Gun Stores Open, Gun Homicides Increase Scientific American

Our Famously Free Press

Long Overdue:’ Washington Post Corrects Articles About Steele Dossier Washington Post

Metaverse: Augmented reality inventor warns it could be far worse than social media Big Think (David L)

Supply Chain

Small businesses boxed out by Walmart, Amazon and other big retailers in growing supply chain battle Washington Post (resilc)

More Trouble Ahead for Supply Chain as Hackers Descend Safe Haven

Sorry kids, there’s a Santa shortage Boing Boing (resilc)

Johnson & Johnson Will Break Itself Up Into Two Companies New York Times (Kevin W)

Does anyone ask if big, fat defense budget hikes are ‘paid for’? Responsible Statecraft (resilc)

L’affaire Epstein

Ghislaine Maxwell meets her reckoning on Monday: The hot-shot lawyer who brought down El Chapo, the defence expert who’ll claim ‘victims’ have false memory syndrome and the big question: Will she implicate Prince Andrew? Daily Mail (J-LS)

Jes Staley reportedly exchanged 1,200 emails with Jeffrey Epstein in four years Guardian (Kevin W)


Calpers Proposes Adding $25 Billion to Private-Equity Stake Bloomberg

CalPERS gets ready to settle discount rate and SAA Top1000Funds

CalPERS IC Less Satisfied With Consultant Performance: Survey Fin-News (Kevin W)

Guillotine Watch

Tech mogul who joined William Shatner in space on Blue Origin dies in air crash Guardian (resilc)

Class Warfare

Yemenis in Brooklyn Reclaim High-End Coffee New York Times (resilc)

Amazon Sued Over Crashes by Drivers Rushing to Make Deliveries Bloomberg (J-LS)

Now the GOP Is Coming for John Deere Workers Vice (resilc)

Antidote du jour (guurst from bearsome):

And a bonus (Li):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. zagonostra

    >Jordan Peterson – CV19 vaccine passports/mandates/restrictions

    “I thought, all right, I’ll get the damn vaccine. But, here’s the deal, guys: I’ll get the vaccine and you f***ing leave me alone!”… And did that work? No. “

    Very interesting how some very smart people are just now starting to re-evaluate the propaganda perpetuated by the likes of MSM and our own gov’t. If you don’t understand that gov’ts use emergencies to increase their reach and control over your life your not paying attention. From the Patriot Act to Hygiene biotech passports, and who knows what next, the danger of totalitarianism is clear and present to those awake.

    An analysis of how this works was laid out by Girogio Agamben and his theory of Sovereign power.

    “Sovereign power, Agamben argues, establishes itself through the production of a political order based on the exclusion…This it achieves through the enactment of the exception [i.e., crises, emergency, etc] in which the law is suspended, withdrawn from the human being…”

    1. Pelham

      This is beyond tiresome. Peterson, though, certainly isn’t alone in willfully ignoring what we know about the vaccines:

      1) They don’t prevent you from getting Covid; they only make it somewhat less likely that when you get it you won’t need to be hospitalized.

      2) The vaccines are thus only one layer in a multi-layered defense that requires masking up, social distancing, avoiding crowded areas, limiting possible exposure over time and maximizing ventilation indoors.

      3) Your “freedom” extends only so far and does not include infringing upon other people’s freedom, especially when it’s a possible question of life or death.

      Finally, I perfectly well understand all these arguments about government using the crisis to impose greater general surveillance and societal control for evil ends. But I don’t buy it. We’re approaching a million deaths in the US. It’s a crisis by any standard. Controls for now are justified, and probably well beyond anything that has been imposed so far. If Covid is beaten back — as IMO it must be — and these measures aren’t relaxed, THEN we may have reason to rise up in protest. In the meantime, no. If these people having fits over the vaccine come out against any possibility of reactivating the military draft under any circumstances — a monumentally greater infringement of individual liberties — I’ll give them a grudging smidgen of credit for consistency. But not until then.

      I like Peterson, BTW, but he does tend to go off on these screwball tangents from time to time and deserves to have his ears pinned back when he does.

      1. Ken Murphy

        “ 3) Your “freedom” extends only so far and does not include infringing upon other people’s freedom, especially when it’s a possible question of life or death.”

        Just out of curiosity, how far do you permit my freedom to extend?

        How would my not wearing a mask infringe upon your freedom to do so? How would my freedom to not mess with my (frankly awesome, thanks mom and dad) genetics infringe upon your right to do so should you so choose?

        I keep coming back to a wonderful phrase in the movie “Strictly Ballroom”: “A life lived in fear is a life half lived”

        Life is terminal. No one gets out alive. Over a long enough timeline the life expectancy of everyone goes to zero. The Covid has a survival rate in excess of 97%. There’s so many ways to die in this world it’s not even funny.

        I’m actually okay with the fact that I could die tomorrow. I’ve done good things in this world, and generally been an asset in whatever community I’ve lived. I’ve traveled widely and experienced many wonderful things. I can go to the grave knowing that I have been a force for good in this world. Which means I’ll probably have to live to 100 in spite of it all.

        FWIW my mother had the jab, and within two weeks had a major pulmonary embolism requiring a Careflight trip to the other side of her state. Just like that the Medical-Industrial Complex hoovered up any potential inheritance down the road as her bills are literally astronomical.

        Sorry, but your fears do not get to delineate my freedoms any more than my fears get to delineate your freedoms.

        Now I’m going to go exercise my freedoms and go rollerblading.

        1. marym

          Those who are vaccine-hesitant because of medical preconditions, bad reactions to an initial dose, or lack of healthcare or time off to deal with a bad reaction; and those who accepted the vaccine risk but want a medical and political regime that takes better care in vaccine development, testing, addressing the needs of people with preconditions or negative vaccine reactions, and providing aftercare have been done a great disservice by those arguing that “freedom is I get to do anything I want regardless of impact on other people” even as far as masking or taking modest social distancing precautions.

          Public health isn’t the same thing as personal choice to, say, live with a painful but not contagious condition rather than risk side effects from pain medication or surgery. It’s something that takes all of us.

          This definition of “freedom’ is as hostile to the common good, and as divisive and unproductive of working for something better, as the sins of craven drug companies, mindlessly insistent pro-vaxxers, and government that bi-partisanly refuses to support material economic and healthcare benefits people need.

          1. zagonostra

            I used to be primarily concerned about freedom and civil liberties, and I continue to be. But what has taken precedent in my own approach to engaging in this issue is truth.

            If you’ve done your homework and put in the hours in researching what is what then you are in a different universe than skilled tv watchers. Zuckerberg and others who control the platforms of today’s electronic agora are busy with constructing a “Metaverse” that will make getting information simpler but getting at the truth more difficult. if nothing else because it can be controlled by the gatekeepers who have their own specific set of interest instead of the “common good.”

            Many have just given up and claim we’ll never know the truth, there are too many diverging opinions, studies, scientist making contradictory statements, it’s hopeless. And so it seems. Truth and Freedom, Freedom and Truth. Ethics seems the only bridge between the two in my view.

          2. ArvidMartensen

            It’s hard to say what freedom actually is because it is in the mind of the beholder.
            As soon as we live in a society we immediately are immersed in laws, rules, obligations, expectations.
            Each of us must decide which of those we can go along with. For the serial conman, laws are made to be broken. For the selfish, obligations go one way. For the judgemental, expectations of obedience to their pet rules (religious, social etc) are mandatory.
            Of course in a functioning society breaking the rules usually comes with consequences. The serial philanderer might find themself without the comfort of family. The thief might find themself in jail. The atheist in a religious society might find themselves shunned.
            To be truly free, perhaps a person needs to go alone into the wilderness(if there is any left), take their chances and fend for themselves. They owe nothing to nobody, no feelings to consider but their own. They can make their own laws and rules.
            Right now we need new rules, agreed upon by the majority, that allow our communities to function well for the majority in a time of rolling crises such as Covid and global heating. But while the oligarchs break all rules with impunity (eg Epstein’s enablers) and sow discord and mental illness and fear and obedience in the community, this can’t happen.
            What to do? I don’t know. I have recently seen the suggestion (from Orlov?) that we ignore all politics and just hunker down and do what we can to protect our families. Maybe he is really saying that society is ceasing to exist in any positive form, forcing us to become islands.

            1. marym

              The people who have invoked “freedom” as the reason for opposing not only vaccines but other pandemic mitigation measures aren’t living in the woods, they’re right here with the rest of us. If they do get sick they most likely won’t be foraging for medicinal herbs. For now at least it’s still about all of us.

              1. Ken Murphy

                And when I do get ill (rarely), I do wear a mask, a practice I adopted back in the 90s whilst in NYC when I realized that the Japanese were on to something with keeping your snot to yourself. Of course back then everyone thought I was a weirdo.

                But I’m not inclined to wear one if I’m not sick.

                1. bsun

                  “But I’m not inclined to wear one if I’m not sick.”

                  This logic can’t be applied to COVID because you might not know, from one day to the next, whether or not you are sick.

          3. Katniss Everdeen

            It would be one thing if the “vaccine” prevented infection and transmission in a “vaccinated” person, but we all know by now that that is not the case. In fact, we are now told that lessening symptoms and preventing hospitalization is all the “vaccine” was ever supposed to do.

            The “benefits” of “vaccination” redound purely to the individual, not the “public.”

            Furthermore, the risk / reward of the vax vs. covid, which is not the same for every age group or state of health, has been completely ignored. That’s the real “public health” violation here.

            1. Soredemos

              Sure, but in Ken’s case he’s not just complaining about vaccines. He’s one of those who gets upset even by masks.

              1. Ken Murphy

                As I’ve stated repeatedly, I do not begrudge others who choose to wear a mask. Some of my team wears masks, others don’t. I just have no interest in wearing one myself. Oh, and I do have an N95 mask, a gift from a prepper friend.

                I’m also not complaining about the jab. If you want to get it, go right ahead. That’s your choice. I’ve had the Covid, I survived, I have no need of the jab thanks to my hard working immune system and I WILL NOT have it forced on me.

                Your interpretation of my comments is flawed.

            2. LifelongLib

              Well, another commenter pointed out that preventing hospitalization is a public health benefit (more room for those who can’t avoid it), and IIRC that was the original rationale for masking, social distancing etc.

              1. Objective Ace

                There’d be more room in hospitals if we hadnt slashed their public funding and thrown them to private equity… so it would seem our country has decided we dont care that much about that public health benefit in the first place

        2. Basil Pesto

          ah yes, the latest in rhetorical pablum from those who would rationalise the “do sweet FA” strategy that has served us so well to date. It’s the “we’re all going to die anyway”/”get a load of all these risk averse cowards” argument. One would hope this is the bottom of the barrel, but the barrel, she has mysterious and elusive depths. You can see this galaxy-brain argument being propagated in the comments section to this Cassandra-tier article. Setting aside that:

          Over a long enough timeline the life expectancy of everyone goes to zero.

          is a non-sensical non-statement*; as tends to be the covid-minimiser’s way, you ignore that 1. 3% of a lot is a lot, 2. the survival rate, ie mortality, is one small part of the calculus of harm wrought by the pandemic. (You also ignore that that survival rate will possibly worsen if the re-infection issue turns out to be as serious as some think, though I suppose this may depend on the efficacy of emerging pharmaceutical treatments). The idea that “people die all the time for loads of reasons so <3% is really nothing, guys" is so philosophically pea-brained that, as the kids (but maybe not Baz Luhrman) say, I can’t even.

          One might boldly assume that in your successful quests to do good in this world and be an asset in your communities (which is more than I have ever achieved, so sincere congratulations), these undertakings may have been done to improve, in some modest or even immodest way, the quality of life of your various beneficiaries. So presumably you understand the benefits that redound individually and collectively when quality of life is improved in whatever way.

          Whether you have caught on to the fact that Covid is going to have a widespread and deleterious effect on the quality of life of huge numbers of people is irrelevant; unless you have better information to the contrary, it is going to happen, it is happening, and it has happened. I am speaking of the malign effects caused exclusively by the virus, not the responses to the virus. The potential for negative externalities beyond but consequent to this is, it seems to me, pretty obvious.

          Fear is not the right emotion. I actually have no fear for myself. I personally will probably be fine, because of my material advantages. Panic is not the right response either. If there were no solutions, no options, no choices, then panic might be justifiable. But there are, so it’s not. We eschew these, though, because it’s inconvenient for those in charge (a lame generalistic shorthand cliché like ‘TPTB’ but bear with me) for various inane reasons and for the sake of ~the economy~, which is of course not immutable and organic but which has been fine tuned to be just so over the course of the past 60 or so years, to the extent that letting the peons think that there are other, superior ways of organising our material world would run the risk of undoing an awful lot of bad work.

          The correct response is anger; anger that our response has been so bad, that so many people have died and will suffer chronic illness for an unspecified amount of time needlessly, anger that we continue to do the bare minimum in the face of a disease that, it seems, we still barely understand. It is avoidable, it always has been avoidable, and PR massaging rather than any philosophical rigour or serious risk analysis sees us in the position where even mild impositions beyond vaccines to effect some benefit in the fight against the virus are seen by far too many people, in possession of a smugness that they have not come anywhere close to earning, as incipient tyranny or craven snowflakery.

          *yes, I get your point regardless, everyone dies eventually. It’s astonishing that anyone could think that this is the rhetorical slam dunk that they apparently think it is.

          1. Ken Murphy

            Our collective response to this has certainly wrought much harm, that I can see and certainly agree with. Gross misinformation on all sides serves only to prolong the problem and mires us in a trap of our own making. Frankly, I’m seeing far more harm (societal and personal) from the response to COVID than from the actual disease itself. You may disagree, and I do not begrudge you your differing opinion, any more than I begrudge my employees who choose to wear a mask or choose to be vaccinated. It’s their choice. Please don’t begrudge me my choice to live a life of joy and wonder, not of fear.

            And I’m not really angry. Not yet. I’ve seen to much injustice in my many decades, from working in the financial industry to living in poor neighborhoods, to let it get me worked up. It just makes me sad knowing that we could live in a better world, but choose collectively to not do so. So I do what I can to make the world a little bit better place, knowing that the net affect will be zero (or even negative given recent years), but at least I can say I tried. But the more coercion, the more compulsion, the more belittling, the more intransigence and the more diktat that folks try to inflict on me, the angrier I will become. I pray that’s a state that I never get to.

            1. Soredemos

              “Frankly, I’m seeing far more harm (societal and personal) from the response to COVID than from the actual disease itself.”

              Where are you seeing this? Is it behind the mountain of millions of corpses, or what?

              1. Basil Pesto

                obviously piles or any other agglomeration of corpses are irrelevant because those erstwhile non-corpses were destined to become corpses eventually anyway. Sunrise, sunset.

        3. Anonymous 2

          You have this the wrong way round. The reason for wearing masks is to protect other people, not yourself. If you are so proud of doing good in the world and are genuinely concerned for the welfare of your community you could set a good example by wearing a mask in environments where you might infect others to protect other people from the possibility that you are an asymptomatic carrier of the disease.

        4. Soredemos

          What’s interesting about this comment is how self-centered it is. There seems to be no acknowledgement that disease is a collective problem. In fact your liberty does have limits.

          Also, the ‘well, we’re all gonna die anyway’ stuff is extremely edgy teenager talk. I suspect you would change your tune very quickly the second you found yourself in a hospital bed struggling to breath.

          And as usual with people who dismiss the danger of covid, zero acknowledgement of long covid. It isn’t just the potential lethality that makes it dangerous.

        5. Lambert Strether

          > I keep coming back to a wonderful phrase in the movie “Strictly Ballroom”: “A life lived in fear is a life half lived”

          A life lived without compassion is a life not lived at all.

          Please mask up, not just to protect yourself, but to protect others. I can only hope that “The right to infect others shall not be infringed” is ultimately not a tenable view.

          1. Ken Murphy

            “ A life lived without compassion”

            Sigh. The children and small animals in my life would likely disagree. Seriously, it’s scary how kids will walk up and just start talking to me. In this day and age that’s just a recipe for trouble.

            Let’s look at it another way. I’m a blood donor. Gallons and gallons of it at this point. But it’s not because of compassion, rather it’s because I’m AB+, a fairly rare variant, and I recognize that that rarity makes my blood donations more desirable and important to hospitals than the more common blood types.

            Am I an @$$hole? Yes. Yes I am. I’m a boss and that’s part of my job. And yet my team is amazingly loyal to me, even going out of their way to make sure I don’t Karōshi myself. It’s rather humbling and not something I expect.

            I recognize that I am everything everyone hates. I’m an atheist. I’m a libertarian (small l). I’m an Objectivist, but one who tries to grok the enlightened part of “enlightened self-interest”. I’m a stale, pale old male. And an Aspie. So belittlement and ostracism is something I’ve been dealing with my whole life and it really doesn’t bother me anymore. So for those lecturing me about my values (something only my mom is allowed to do), I’ll just reply in the traditional manner of my Gen X:


            1. Lambert Strether

              I hope that children and small animals stay six feet away from you, is all I can say. I know I would. But thanks for your witty response. Best of luck free-riding out the pandemic!

      2. Alphonse

        Let’s say, for the sake of argument, that contrary to evidence, the vaccine really does limit transmission.

        How do you implement your mandate? Some people will refuse. Maybe their reasons are bad, but they’re stubborn. How far are you willing to go? Will you hold them down and force the needle in? Will you isolate them in camps? You can keep your hands clean by threatening their jobs or excluding them from society, but in essence it’s the same thing.

        What do you say about them? That they’re selfish? Diseased and dangerous outcasts against the community?

        Consider the long term consequences. You have obliterated the principle of bodily autonomy. You have deliberately encouraged majority persecution of a minority.

        You will have to create institutions to enforce your new rules. You have set the precedent that they need only argue a community interest. It is in their interests to expand their mandate, its popular, it is said to be virtuous. You knocked down existing norms and rules – is there any limit at all?

        In Australia, the police assault people in parks for not wearing masks. I have seen videos of people smashed to the ground, mothers torn from their babies. New Zealand is literally building “camps” – facilities where the sick will be forcibly interned until they pass a covid test. In Lithuania, the unvaccinated are not even permitted in grocery stores.

        You have also created an embittered and besieged minority. What happens when that articulates with existing polarization? Bodily autonomy and forcing treatment on kids are the are the sorts of things people will fight and kill over.

        Many see this as an opportunity to punish and purge their enemies. I have seen rhetoric that is frankly genocidal, including multiple popular calls for the vaccinated to die or be interned in camps. This isn’t protecting the community. It’s tearing it apart.

        Even if you were willing to do all of that, shouldn’t it be a lost resort? There is so much else that could be done. Persuasion was barely attempted. Good health and nutrition (e.g. vitamin D) and ventilation are basically off the radar.

        Here’s what Jordan Peterson says happened in Canada:

        I was told frankly and directly by an official at the highest levels in a Canadian gov’t that provincial Covid-19 policy was driven by polls. Not science. Not strategy. Not an end goal. Polls. Travel restrictions? Polls.

          1. Alphonse

            Touché. Almost.

            Bodily autonomy is (rightly) a key argument in the abortion debate. Is that argument moot?

            I see a big difference between having to have a job (with at least some freedom to choose what it is) versus being forced to allow someone else to make a biological change to your body, with no options at all. And some irony that you choose this example, given that mandates are using employment to force compliance.

            I chose the vax before there were mandates, as did everyone I know. I think it’s obvious this is crossing a line. I think that line is real: but even the fact that many people see a line is enough to make it so.

            Consider the means being used. Say for the sake of argument that there is no relevant difference between wage labour and being forced to take the needle. Heck, let’s say that instead of forcing people to get a shot, the mandates were that every American must say “God Save America.” That’s perfectly safe, zero risk, not experimental. Those who did would be allowed to continue life as normal; those who did not would be lose their jobs and access to various services. Would that be kosher just because employees don’t have free speech on the job, or would it be a significant challenge to the principle of freedom of speech?

            1. Lambert Strether

              > I see a big difference between having to have a job (with at least some freedom to choose what it is) versus being forced to allow someone else to make a biological change to your body, with no options at all.

              I think there is a difference in degree, certainly. But not in kind. The freedom to choose your job greatly depends on your choice of parents. And your freedom to give up a job that is dangerous to your health (that is, to your body) greatly depends on moral commitments you may have made to others, e.g., your family.

              Moving from the individual to the collective, workers collectively do not have freedom to choose to work. That’s what selling your labor power to survive, the essence of wage labor, means operationally.

        1. DZhMM

          I can’t speak to Australia or New Zealand, but in Lithuania, the requirement for entry into large grocery stores (note: below a certain size, and there are no restrictions as to who can come in and shop) is the possession of a ‘galimybių pasas’, which can be obtained on the basis of vaccination or recovery from infection (3 month validity, but you can simply renew it online when it runs out), or on the basis of a negative test (two-day validity, but with free same-day testing easily available all over the place, that means an actual two days).
          Whoever told you the unvaccinated are not allowed in grocery stores here is, quite simply, lying.

            1. Basil Pesto

              Adding, I have occasionally read here with some bemusement ominous comments remarking grimly on ‘the situation’ in Australia and other such hysterically ill-informed Murdochian or post-Murdochian nonsense. Bullshit, unsurprisingly, abounds.

    2. flora

      Thanks for these links. I’m still stunned that some docs won’t give medical exemptions to the booster jab for people who’ve taken both 1 & 2, had pretty severe adverse side effects, and are told they won’t be considered vaxed unless they take the booster, too. This make no medical sense, as far as I can tell. my 2 cents.

      1. lordkoos

        Where or when is this booster policy being enforced? I’m in Seattle at the moment where proof of vaccination is a must in any restaurant, but I haven’t seen anything so far regarding proof of having got a booster nor have I been asked for that.

      2. Basil Pesto

        an argument I’m seeing being pushed increasingly now is that this is, actually, a three-dose vaccine, not a two dose (I’m not sure if this argument is being pushed for all the vaccines or just Pfizer, which does seem to be the ‘main’ vaccine worldwide)

        Now, that may or may not be true – it’s far too above my pay grade for me to opine on that question in any meaningful way at the moment.

        But in a sense, it doesn’t matter. The damage continues to be done. The messaging has been all over the place and most people see right through it. One doesn’t have to have a post-graduate degree to know bullshit and dissimulation when they see it. It’s going to be a particularly acute problem in the United States where civic trust seems to be weaker than most other countries in the west. We went from “these vaccines are the road out of the pandemic” to “oh, it turns out you need a booster dose, especially if you’re old” to, now, apparently: “it was a three course vaccine all along!!”. This absolutely reeks of “making it up as we go along” which, in a crisis, is unforgivable (remembering that in the US, the failure to adopt the pandemic preparedness plan was supposed to be an idiosyncratic Trump failure. You don’t need me to tell you that, in the last year, nothing has fundamentally changed). And look, there’s nothing wrong in principle with updating public health advice as more information comes to light, especially if it’s good, reliable and supportsble information, but the number of mistakes made by public health authorities around the world to date combined with the complete lack of humility or contrition or forthrightness about what they’ve done so far and why and how they’ve gotten so much wrong, and the elastic nature of their messaging, means that no one is going to be inclined to buy what they have to sell in the future. The potential long term consequences of this, it seems to me, are truly awful.

        Meanwhile, the question of 0, 2, 3 or more vaccine doses continues to be an absolute red herring when it comes to controlling Covid. It’s not enough, and relying on vaccines as the primary – sometimes the exclusive – pandemic control measure, has been and will continue to be disastrous.

        1. clarky90

          Maybe we could re-imagine Covid19 as a metaphorical, “type-two-diabetes”, and the “vaccine”, as a long acting “Neo-Insulin”, that has to be administered every six months for the rest of our miserable lives?

          1. Basil Pesto

            maybe, but I’m seeing the idea propagated by ostensibly non pharma-adjacent medicos rather than Pfizer themselves. If Pfizer were pushing it, surely they would advocate for indefinite boosters (which I think they were at one point?) rather than a definitively three-course vaccine?

    3. ArvidMartensen

      Whole books have been written to warn ordinary people about how the oligarchs and the governments they own always use crises to grow their power, moving towards autocracy and dictatorship. Naomi Klein for one. And this one

      But it doesn’t seem to make much difference when the chips are down. We have two life threatening crises now, Covid and Global Heating, so we will probably see dictatorships on steroids from now on. The seeds were being sown decades ago. Political parties which have tried to better the live of ordinary people have been smashed and/or taken over by the rich in places like the UK and the US.

      1. clarky90

        Re; “…two life threatening crises now, Covid and Global Heating”,

        Imo, it is important to see them as a unified problem. (like say, Type 2 Diabetes which has many symptoms; Fatigue, Dehydration, Blurry Vision, Headaches, Loss of Consciousness, Infections or Sores that don’t heal…….)

        Many symptoms but with a single cause, too much sugar in the blood.

        But, we have discussions, Scientific papers, demonstrations, mandates…. about Covid, Covid, Covid….(rarely any mention of climate change)

        And then, completely different discussions, Scientific papers, demonstrations, mandates……. addressing, climate change, climate, change, climate change…. (barely a mention of covid, in spite of the piles of PPE litering our streets and filling landfills)

        Perhaps, take away “the sugar” and end this unhealthy, global, sugar-rush?

        1. ArvidMartensen

          Yes, but maybe they are two symptoms of the same problem.
          Which is that the Earth’s whole ecosphere has been taken over by, and is being ruined by, homo sapiens. We are in plague proportions.
          And it seems to me that that is the Voldemort problem that dare not speak its name.

  2. GramSci

    Re: Using Mechanical tools and syntax

    I would suggest it’s the task, not the tool.

    “The motor training involved using the pliers to insert small pegs into holes that matched their shape but with differing orientations.”

    Tetris would likely yield a similar experimental result.

  3. The Rev Kev

    “‘Long Overdue’: Washington Post Corrects Articles About Steele Dossier”

    So I guess that it will not be too long until the Washington Post corrects it smearing of NC as Russian propaganda when it front-paged the PropOrNot list back in 2016? An apology would be nice too-

    1. Samuel Conner

      My thought has been that the ‘propornot’ list needs to be enlarged to include most of the MSM outlets.

      1. Otis B Driftwood

        At the lower end, the path of that grizzly trying to cross the highway draws a bear’s head.

    2. Questa Nota

      Will no one think of poor Bernstein? What will he say and do now? Oh, the humanity. Maybe Woodward, or Squidward, can help.

    1. Katniss Everdeen

      From a “related article”: (Presented without comment because the moderators would never tolerate that level of vulgarity)

      The controversial new drug for Alzheimer’s disease, Aduhelm, is priced at $56,000 a year for treatment — but Alzheimer’s patients won’t be the only ones shouldering the cost.

      All of Medicare’s roughly 60 million enrollees will likely see their premiums rise to cover the new medication, experts say — and the burden will also fall to federal and state governments and, therefore, to taxpayers.

      Here’s how it’s expected to work: Because Aduhelm will be administered in physicians’ offices, it should be covered under Medicare Part B, not Part D plans, which pay for medications bought at pharmacies. For new Part B drugs, Medicare typically reimburses 103% of the list price.

      So if 500,000 of the estimated roughly 6 million Americans with Alzheimer’s disease are prescribed Aduhelm, total spending for one year would be nearly $29 billion, which would far exceed spending on any other drug covered under Medicare Part B or Part D in 2019, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Total Medicare spending for all Part B drugs was $37 billion in 2019.

      If a million patients receive the drug, total spending would top $57 billion, Kaiser said.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        The problem should not be whether Part B or Part D should be charged, but why anyone should be expected to pay $60,000 a year for one drug.

        1. WobblyTelomeres

          Was reading about the drug trials. No discernable benefit, horrific side effects, approved over the unanimous recommendation of the advisory committee that it NOT be approved. Anyone who gets it is probably on it for life. Sigh. Who does the DNC say I should blame this week?

        2. Katniss Everdeen

          “….but why anyone should be expected to pay $60,000 a year for one drug.”

          No one is. The taxpayers are expected to “share” the cost for drugs most don’t even take. It was pretty clear from the git go that Medicare, in all its iterations, was going to be the patsy for aduhelm. Making it Part B instead of Part D was a great trick.

          It’s the new gambit in peddling grossly overpriced “essentials”–make EVERYONE pay whether they buy it, use it, need it or not.

          EVs too expensive? Taxpayers will subsidize the cost. Childcare, medical insurance, property taxes on coastal mansions and beach houses too high? Let the rest of the country help out with tax deductions and making do with less.

          And in case anyone has failed to notice, once a product or service secures its place in the national checkbook register, the price only goes up and up.

          I hope that creep manchin holds the line on bbb or whatever it’s called. The provisions for “negotiating” the prices of prescription drugs are a joke, and the dems should not be allowed to get away with even making a claim to have done anything in that area.

          Let’s go, Brandon.

      2. Katniss Everdeen

        PS. Medicare typically reimburses 103% of the list price.

        What’s the extra 3% for? Having to hire extra help to count, bundle and manage all that cash?

      3. Carolinian

        Since the drug has no benefit and is even dangerous should we assume any doctors who prescribe it are on the take?

        Oh wait they are administering it in their offices so they are definitely on the take. Clever devils those Pharma execs.

    2. Otis B Driftwood

      The company I work for is about to be acquired by United Healthcare. Still not a done deal, but I will not be able to continue working there if/when that happens.

    3. Michael

      My SS will increase from $1574 to $1667/mo or $93.00
      MED increase from $148.50 to $170.10 is -$21.60
      Hadn’t heard about the reasons for the MED increase, so thanks!

  4. Pat

    The Friday night news dump brought bad news for seniors. Their inadequate SS benefit cola increase just got a whole lot smaller.

    Medicare part B premiums increase 14.5% for 2022

    They have also increased the deductible by $30. This is supposedly for a variety of reasons. The CNN story is more direct and has some quotes, although I hate to give it credit.

    For CNBC it is:

    Additionally, contingency reserves have been increased to account for potential new treatment costs incurred by the program.

    CNN outright says it is about the over $50,000/year for the latest Alzheimer’s boondoggle the FDA approved over objections. Since it is administered in the doctor’s office it is covered by part B not D.

    And despite their rosy predictions, I would bet a not insignificant portion of beneficiaries will not see any additional money in their checks after the increased premium. My inner tinfoil hatted doubting Thomas cannot help but wonder if pushing more people into Medicare Advantage with this is not just a happy accident, but a big reason this increase is more than double the earlier estimate.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      My monthly Medicare co-insurance premiums for 2022 just rose another 18%. Maybe i should hold off buying Bitcoin with my SS increase?

      1. Lee

        Last year, the increase in my social security benefit payment triggered an increase in my Medicare premium that exceeded the rise in my benefit payment. By getting more, I got less. :>/

    2. antidlc

      “My inner tinfoil hatted doubting Thomas cannot help but wonder if pushing more people into Medicare Advantage with this is not just a happy accident, but a big reason this increase is more than double the earlier estimate.”

      Look at what CMS announced in September:

      The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2022 premiums, deductibles and other key information for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans in advance of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment to help Medicare enrollees decide on coverage that fits their needs. The average premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be lower in 2022 at $19 per month, compared to $21.22 in 2021, while projected enrollment continues to increase. As previously announced, the average 2022 premium for Part D coverage will be $33 per month, compared to $31.47 in 2021.

      Medicare Advantage premiums on average decrease for 2022, Part B premiums increase 14.5% and the deductible goes up.

      Yep. They want you in Medicare Advantage.

        1. antidlc

          If you don’t get a Medicare Advantage plan, then you need a supplemental plan.

          “The average premium for Medicare Advantage plans will be lower in 2022 at $19 per month…’

          You won’t find a supplemental plan for $19 per month.

          The more the part B premium and deductible are raised, the more Medicare beneficiaries will be looking to save money and they will initially choose or switch to a Medicare Advantage plan.

          Raising part B premiums and deductibles encourages more and more people to pick a Medicare Advantage plan instead of a supplemental plan.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released the 2022 premiums, deductibles and other key information for Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans in advance of the annual Medicare Open Enrollment to help Medicare enrollees decide on coverage that fits their needs

        This seems… complicated.

        1. .human

          One needs hours of time and bandwidth, a notepad, advice from friends, family, someone in “health care”, and be clairvoyent to make “the best” choices.

          I am inundated with phone and email messages.

          I had finished shopping yesterday when I was confronted by a table with “health care” literature, and a sign, “The first choice for your health care, your insurance.” I stopped to comment to the sales person that my first choice should be to see a doctor.

    3. flora

      I wonder if Medicare can refuse to add this, by all accounts, ineffective drug it to its approved treatments list.

      1. GC54

        Or trigger a lawsuit against whoever overruled the advisory committee, accusing s/he of embezzlement and collusion w/ Biogen. Here are some FDA officials to pursue to get this crap out of doctor$’ greedy mitts. And where the h311 did thousands$/mo come from? Give them $50!

    4. antidlc

      A couple of thoughts…

      1) Every time the part B deductible goes up, the insurance companies win — it takes you longer to meet the deductible, so it is longer before the supplemental insurance plans have to kick in their 20%.
      So the insurance companies can lobby for an increase in part b deductibles — VOILA! the insurance companies win.
      Make you wonder if that’s why Medigap plan F went away — plan F had no deductible, so the supplemental plans had to kick in the 20% as soon as you had a claim.

      2) I think that increasing part B premiums and deductible will lead to adverse selection — the healthier people will switch to Medicare Advantage, sicker people will stay with Medigap plans. The other day there was a link stating that late in life seniors switch from Medicare Advantage to traditional Medicare. So traditional Medicare will have a pool of sicker people, driving up costs even more.

      My 2 cents.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      Dollars vote.

      They just changed a reconciliation from 3.5 trillion to almost nothing.

      Oh, by the way, Kristen Sinema is running TV ads already explaining how “she is working for all Arizonans” by taking bribe money from whomever wants something from DC. The question I have whenever I see one of her ads is “I wonder who paid for this and what she did in return to get the money?”

      1. Katniss Everdeen

        Krystal and Saagar are of the opinion that she’s padding her resume / auditioning for a lucrative lobbying life after being a member of the “world’s greatest deliberative body,” which is just for unmotivated, unambitious chumps.

        1. flora

          I used to think the robber barons and their wholly owned financed politicians in the late 19th c Gilded Age were the high point (or low point) of public/private financial corruption. Our modern age billionaires/corporations and their financed politicians make those Gilded Age players look like pikers.

    2. Lee

      A “prodigious fundraiser” who regards James Clyburn as a “father figure”, with “limited engagement with the rank-and-file activists and state party officials”—how could he not be a rising star in the ever more enfeebled national Democratic establishment. With or without Trump formally at the governmental helm, I think we are in for an electoral resurgence of Trumpism. Thank you, Democrats.

  5. petal

    $55 to fill up my car yesterday afternoon, up about $15-$20 from not long ago(need to check my log). Dems are going to get vaporised at midterms. As it ticked higher, all I could think was “LGB” and “FJB”. People can’t afford housing, food, home heat, gas-and it keeps going up. Also still can’t get the bioreactors I need for antibody production. Were supposed to ship the 4th but no dice. Now I definitely won’t make our grant deadline. JB is going to show his face at a bridge in Woodstock, NH this coming week to highlight his BBB transportation funds. Wonder how that’s going to go. Looks like a recent UNH poll had his favourable rating at 34%.
    Dumb question, but if the vax rule gets shot down for good, what happens to all of us who were forced to get it? Will we have any recourse?

    1. RA

      Sorry, anyone, what’s LGB?

      I wonder if JB’s failing mental capacity can even grasp what a cesspool of US meltdown he is swimming in.

    2. Khanateconomy

      Bidenflation means your essential living costs go up exponentially,
      but your wages,
      if you have a full time job,
      are not too old to be hire or retained,
      increase by arithmetical sub decimals.

      Paraphrasing Shakespeare,
      “The first thing we need to do is kill the big donors”

    3. griffen

      You should have recourse, I think most here would approve it. Unfortunately this is the US, so it may not get very far to wish. As for the higher gas prices, I think we’re going to have live with it. I think my last tank, the gallon of gas was $3.17 for the 87 octane level.

      And agreed, LGB.

      1. petal

        I’m about as far from having legal expertise as one can get, so I have been curious about the potential legal ramifications if this thing is shot down. What happens then? What does it mean?

        My nearly 24 year old car takes premium, and It was at $3.949/gal yesterday. I’ll have to check my log today and maybe make a graph for fun. As I was standing there feeling the gut punch, figured I’d better go all the way and fill it because the price is likely to keep going up.

        1. Katniss Everdeen

          … so I have been curious about the potential legal ramifications if this thing is shot down. What happens then? What does it mean?

          I assume you’re talking about being forced to vax to keep your job in advance of the OSHA rule being formalized. According to Jonathan Turley:

          It is not even clear that the rule is necessary. Courts have uniformly upheld the right of employers to impose mandatory vaccination or testing requirements as a condition for employment; states have enhanced authority over such public health measures, too.

          If I recall, part of the new rule is a suspension of the usual OSHA requirement for the employer to keep track of any adverse occurrences related to the rules, in this case the vax. This was interpreted by some as absolving the employer of any legal responsibility for requiring the vax in the event that an employee was harmed by it.

          It could be that without OSHA cover, employers who require vaccination will be liable for any harm suffered. Dunno. Not a lawyer either.

        2. griffen

          Glad you received more salient replies than that I wrote above. Wish I could offer a little more insight on the legal aspect. And as to the cost of daily needs, such as gas, well it’s obviously different on where one lives.

          Best of luck.

    4. Dr. John Carpenter

      Last weekend, I had to run errands and was stopped in traffic by the line to the Sam’s Club gas station. It was about an hour long, by my guess. Their 87 octane was $3.09, iirc. I should add, this is in the “nice” part of town as well. Lots of gigantic luxury pickup trucks and SUVs in that line. If those folks were willing to waste their Saturday in line for $3.09/gallon, there’s no way it’s not going to be a “throw the bums out” election.

    5. Robert Gray

      > $55 to fill up my car yesterday afternoon …

      > My nearly 24 year old car takes premium …

      Admittedly, my 27 year old car is a guzzler. (‘Nobody ever bought a Volvo for the fuel economy.’) Thank luck I don’t have to drive very much. But I have to say with all sympathy for your pain that it makes my lips twist into a wry smile when I hear Yanks bemoan their hard life.

      My car’s gas tank has a capacity of 73 litres; call it 19 US gallons. Say the gauge is getting low; maybe it’s in the warning zone but I’m not yet running on fumes. So I tank up and it takes 17 gallons.

      Well, today’s petrol price of 1.98 euros per litre at the current exchange rate of 1.14 $/€ comes to about $8.54 per gallon, times 17 gallons means that it cost me $145 dollars to fill up my car yesterday.

      We here in Europe still think that petrol is like free in America.

      1. petal

        Yes, I have lived and traveled abroad, I am fully aware. Thanks. Glad you enjoyed it. I was commenting on my reality and tightening budget as a lower income worker in northern New England. And I have the old Volvo because there was literally nothing else available I could afford at the time($1400). It was either that or not be able to get to work.

    6. JBird4049

      The Democratic grifters are going to get vaporized alright, meaning the Republican neo-fascists are going to take over. Then what? I do not see them doing anything to keep their position long term. It is getting to where too people many cannot afford food, never mind housing, testing the American pressure cooker’s walls. Ruling through law, customs and traditions, or even by the gun doesn’t mean much if people are desperate enough.

      Anyone who would drop the identity politics, be it Wokeism, Alt-Right White Nationalism, or any other -ism, and focuses on having a functional economy would govern the nation for at least the next three generations, much like the New Dealers; I do not see that happening because both parties are enthralled by their slice of the überwealthy who are themselves enthralled by their vices, addictions and ideologies. Instead, we seem to have “leaders” who apparently are for breaking us all down into smaller, more controllable, and therefore more digestible or exploitable mini-nations.

      It is a race between rebuilding, crumbling, or blowing apart. Crumbling leaves a chance of rebuilding, while the blowing apart leaves very left on which to do that. Right now, it a race between old/new American nationalist, pro-humanity, pro-human rights, movement reformers like the old Progressive Party and the White ethno-nationalist, rule-through-power, neo-fascists like the current Alt-Right/Republican Party.

      That it is only the wealthy or the very connected have any recourse is all part of the plan; the average mark having to suffer from any problems from the vaccines, or from Covid, or the economic wreckage is also part of the plan. Wealth by crumbling.

      I keep telling myself that Madame Guillotine would be a very bad guest, while Lady Justice would be a much better one. The only way I can keep my sight on the harder goal of, having the latter is that inviting the former is not only easier, it is nihilistic, a way to have it all burn down to ash. It also would give the win to the authoritarians and their greed.

    7. Aumua

      Yeah, FJB because it’s Biden’s fault that gas is going up. Just like it was Trump’s doing that caused it to fall to $1.21 or whatever last year. Because of his big focus on energy independence, right? Or did oil and other markets collapse for some other reason… I can’t quite put my finger on it.

      Inflation, that’s all Biden’s doing too. Cause of all the money he’s spending! Trump certainly didn’t authorize spending trillions and trillions on his watch, nope.

      Propaganda everywhere.

      1. IM Doc

        Sorry, those are not the things my Dem patients bring up about Biden.

        Now that they themselves or their family members are facing hardships because they are losing their jobs or businesses, they bring up watching their President firing a huge chunk of Americans with his rictus grin in full display.

        Unfortunately, that is simply not propaganda. That was there for all the world to see.

        There have been smaller incidents like this, Reagan and the air traffic controllers, but nothing of this magnitude.

        No, the Dems are going to own this one. And it is most definitely not propaganda. Anyone who thinks that should spend one day with me instead of listening to Rachel or reading dailykos.

        1. Aumua

          I think you completely missed where I’m coming from, but that’s ok. I just don’t have the heart to try and clarify myself much these days.

        2. lance ringquist

          you are correct. its the nafta democrats economy. the warnings against free trade economics were all there for everyone to see. instead we were told that this will be a economy for the 21st century, and nafta billy was right about that.

          the nafta democrats own this outright!

  6. PlutoniumKun

    COVID-19’s epicentre again: Europe faces fresh reckoning Reuters

    I guess its too much to hope for that our dear leaders could actually learn some lessons from last year. Covid is clearly seasonal in Europe, the ‘victory’ over the summer was because… well, it was summer. It is surging at a horrifying rate now in Ireland – despite 89% of over 12’s being vaccinated and many control measures still in place. The Health Minister asked young people not to be stupid, and not to go to nightclubs three times in a week.

    In the meanwhile, flights to the US have opened up (they are, of course, packed), and I know many people who are determined to go on a winter sunshine break this year. the lovely clear skies I’ve been enjoying for 18 months are now full of contrails again. I’m told of course that rates are still quite low in Spain and Italy. Nobody seems to have noticed that Covid is following a clear north to south pattern, as people go indoors for colder weather.

    1. The Rev Kev

      ‘Covid is clearly seasonal in Europe.’

      Oh my! Missed that completely that. And it is going to be a shocker this winter in the northern hemisphere going by all the reports in today’s Links.

      Meanwhile, my own State in Oz has about hit the 70% vaccination rate so of course we are going to be opening up our borders to tourists. Tens of thousands of them – daily. What else can you say?

      ‘Brace, brace, brace.’

      1. ambrit

        “Grab your ankles and assume the position citizen!”
        [This message bought to you by the “High Street Merchants Association.”]

      2. Bazarov

        There’s some evidence hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure and cholesterol.

        One paper (“Hibiscus sabdariffa L. – A phytochemical and pharmacological review“) surmises that hibiscus’ benefits arise in part from “inhibition of angiotensin-converting enzymes (ACE).”

        I immediately thought of covid and its propensity to bind to the ACE receptors throughout the body. Is there a possibility that Hibiscus sabdariffa might interfere with covid binding to the ACE receptor?

        Perhaps one of the covid brain trust who actually understands biochemistry could chime in?

      3. Kfish

        From one Queenslander to another, I think the summer’s humidity will help us out, although the heat may force people inside to air-conditioning. The natural ventilation of the raised Queenslander houses will also help.

        The new vaccine mandates for getting to the pub are an interesting twist.

      4. skippy

        This Queenslander will not be attending Noosa Bch this year or any pub et al and remain masked
        till there is a seasonal track record which suggests better risk evaluation.

        Working outside largely alone and even when not separated by some distance to others, myself and doggies have heaps to do around the place so there is no sensation of being trapped. On the other hand all the freedom and liberty protestors and others that vibrate a slightly different frequency, say in HELL’Borne, almost seem like a pop up reenactment of World War Z ….

    2. ProudWappie

      Things are a bit more nuanced in The Netherlands. Our hell minister, already having inherited a poorly managed healthcare system (very large drop in capacity in spite of growth of both population in general, and the percentage of elderly, that’s what 10 years of Mark Rutte has done), has managed to further mess up our health care system. Simply don’t invest anything, and let fatigue, poor management, and threat of vaccine mandate do the rest. Note that our health care system has already had lots of problems managing influenza waves in 2016 and 2018; these issues are not new.

      So now just 300-350 people with C-19 in the IC (600+ in earlier wave, 1300+ in first wave) in a population of 17+ million is enough to cause a near breakdown of the system. Really? And of course our hell minister, in cooperation with the compliant media, is blaming the unvaccinated. This is really getting out of hand, and we’re getting into dangerous territory.

      Also note, that the QR-system has been an utter failure, and also the cause of the quickly increasing positive test results. What’s the problem here? Well, you allow vaccinated people to go anywhere, since they keep their green check mark, even if they have tested positive. So, they can spread like crazy, or get sick, especially the elderly, that have been jabbed more than six months ago, and where the effect of the vaccine has waned.

    3. Brian Beijer

      I am not at all an expert, but I strongly doubt it is seasonal. Covid was tearing through the US and England throughout the summer. The difference in climate and human behavior isn’t so different between England and Sweden, and the vaccination rate was roughly the same (I couldn’t say about the US- it’s too large). We had an extremely low count of Covid cases throughout the summer despite packed public transport, bars and restaurants. Strangly, we’re still not seeing a huge rise in cases (yet) while the sh*t is hitting the fan in countries all around us. I don’t think we should try to generalize what we know about colds and flus to the Corona virus. We’ll be missing some important factors, if we do.

      1. Basil Pesto

        Yes, I’m no longer convinced by the theory of seasonality when it comes to Covid infection – the “wave pattern” of infection cycles that we’ve been seeing over 18 months doesn’t really support it, although I accept that the season that a wave occurs in may have some effect on the total infections (attenuating in summer, worsening in winter)

      2. PlutoniumKun

        Covid didn’t actually tear through England – the rates were significantly less than the models predicted. Remember, nearly everyone was expecting a huge surge in late July/August due to the release of restrictions. The implicit logic of the UK and Swedish policy was to build up natural immunity in the summer, to provide some level of protection in winter.

        There was a surge, but much less than expected. What we did see is rates decline into September, and then surge again in October as schools returned and people went indoors. Exactly as you’d expect if it was seasonal.

  7. PlutoniumKun

    Ghislaine Maxwell meets her reckoning on Monday: The hot-shot lawyer who brought down El Chapo, the defence expert who’ll claim ‘victims’ have false memory syndrome and the big question: Will she implicate Prince Andrew? Daily Mail

    To steal a line from Jimmy Dore, and others, may I be the first to offer my condolences to her loved ones for her suicide next week.

  8. PlutoniumKun

    Brexit: UK looks likely to trigger Article 16 – then what? BBC (Kevin W)

    Article 16: the threats, the retaliation, the risks Tony Connelly, RTE

    Welcome to Brexit 2.0 Chris Grey

    And we all thought Brexit was done and dusted. It does seem that the EU has decided to play hardball with London and is signalling that if A.16 is triggered, then the gloves come off. And it seems the Biden administration agrees. The indications are that London is blinking – Frost has been soft-pedalling backwards in the last few days. It seems that not for the first time, the Brexiteers have underestimated US political anger at their meddling in Northern Ireland, among other things.

    The problem is that a large number of Tories, including probably Johnson – see keeping the pot boiling as an election winner, and Johnson himself sees it as a way of distracting from his many shortcomings. So it may be that the UK is facing the worst of all scenarios – a government determined to keep Brexit issues front stage by provoking the EU. In anyways, as Grey argues above – it might actually be better if A.16 was triggered in order to lance some boils. It would be a war the UK simply could not win, and it might lead to some grown ups getting back in charge. Thats an optimistic view of course.

    1. ambrit

      I, from my vantage point “Across the Pond,” can see the imposition of a “State of Emergency” in the UK by the Spring.
      Remember how the old style Oligarchy responded to the General Strike of 1926? I’ll argue here that today’s Oligarchs wish mightily that they were “of the calibre” of Great Grandad, when he sent those grubby ‘subhumans’ back underground in ’26.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        To be honest, I think that the population of the UK has become so supine that its very hard to see things coming to that stage, even if an unwise move led to a trade war. I suppose its always possible that shortages could trigger demonstrations or riots, but I don’t get any sense (from across the smaller pond), that there is that level of discontent. I think the only thing that could really set things off is if sterling started to slide to the extent that prices rise rapidly in the shops.

        What I find weird is that by any metric, Ireland is doing much better economically and politically than in the UK, yet if there was an election tomorrow, there would be a genuine earthquake, with Sinn Fein (nationalist, left wing, radical) becoming the biggest party – at least of polls are to be believed. And yet in the UK the Tories still rule, and the SNP are becoming more and more establishment.

        1. Eustachedesaintpierre

          Perhaps the old tribal vote in relation to FG / FF is failing as older voters die off, while due to them having gotten into bed together there is a certain amount of cop on as to the fact that they are just 2 variations of the same shit sandwich. I guess that if the shinners took the South the loyalists here up North would not be very happy.

          Some elements mainly UVF are at the moment failing to build momentum for a new rioting season, as aside from one night of rioting from youngsters egged on by old farts at a West Belfast interface, with some response from Catholic youth & a hijacked double decker bus that was burnt out, it as yet a pale reflection of the old days.

          As for Demos in England there have been a few very large ones mainly anti-vax & the so called million man demo while likely not that large put the cops under serious pressure on Guy Fawkes night ( Nov. 5th ) mainly through the use of fireworks as missiles. The one thing that these efforts both have in common is that they are totally as far as I can tell ignored by the MSM.

        2. NotThePilot

          It would be a war the UK simply could not win, and it might lead to some grown ups getting back in charge.

          This is a lot like how I see Brexit. I think I’ve said it before, that while Brexit will be a rolling disaster for a while, there is a silver lining if one looks at it in a grim, accelerationist way. It almost guarantees Britain will eventually become exactly the country (Right) Brexiteers were trying to avoid: multi-racial, post-imperial, mixed-economy, more autarky, etc.

          To be honest, I think that the population of the UK has become so supine that its very hard to see things coming to that stage, even if an unwise move led to a trade war.

          This sort of lines up with the recent articles linked here by Umair Haque, marveling at the Tories’ invincibility even while sewage overflow gets dumped into the rivers. Honestly, I don’t even know if it counts as an explanation, but it only starts making sense to me if I look at it like a Spenglerian. Just like Classical Greece or Spring & Autumn Jin, maybe Britain is sort of spent and that’s always how it’s gone for the leading financial, colonial, & universalizing power in an unfolding civilization.

          What I find weird is that by any metric, Ireland is doing much better economically and politically than in the UK, yet if there was an election tomorrow, there would be a genuine earthquake, with Sinn Fein (nationalist, left wing, radical) becoming the biggest party

          I don’t know very much about Irish politics. Would you say there’s any sense in Ireland today that decolonization is still a work in progress, to be advanced on new fronts like the economy? Even if most people don’t consciously frame it like that, do you think that could be a partial reason for what you describe?

          1. bwilli123

            Ex Australian PM, Paul Keating last week described Britain as, “like an old theme park sliding into the Atlantic, compared to modern China.”

              1. skippy

                Same guy that ushered Neoliberalism in Oz, then said it was the recession we had to have … you know the Brazil treatment to make asset prices favorable to the international investors aka when Oz was sold off …

                Strangely when they sold on after things were screwed down, as hard as they could, and not another drop of blood in the offer they sold to the Chinese. For some reason some thought this was a Communist take over … and not just open market trade …

                At least Howard was honest about his agenda …

          2. PlutoniumKun

            don’t know very much about Irish politics. Would you say there’s any sense in Ireland today that decolonization is still a work in progress, to be advanced on new fronts like the economy? Even if most people don’t consciously frame it like that, do you think that could be a partial reason for what you describe?

            I honestly can’t explain what is happening in Irish politics right now. I don’t think it has much to do with decolonisation, more of a build up over time of dissatisfaction with the establishment, combined with Sinn Fein having successfully ‘detoxified’ their image, making them a realistic alternative. I think much of it is simply due to Sinn Fein being far more competent at being a successful political party than any European or US equivalent, and that it tied into their particular history. What sets them apart from most leftist parties is that they are unafraid to wave their national flag (and they have credibility when they do it), and their relentless focus on populist issues.

    2. David

      The problem, I think, is that there’s a type of politics, which Johnson personifies to the point of parody, which is entirely narcissistic and internally focused, and which regards outside forces and even the rest of the world as a kind of virtual presence, useful only has no impact on real life. Johnson has created a Cabinet and a whole political party, which now sees politics in this way. In the end, in any clash between the IK and the 27, the 27 will win. But the British political system, wrapped in its cotton-wool protection, is unable to understand this.

    3. Robert Gray

      And, then there’s the very real complication — right there in the room, yet unremarked — of how all the political maneuvring necessarily gets put on hold in the next days / weeks / months whenever Betty Windsor dies. Brexit? Timelines? Deadlines? Hardball? Amazing how it will all become as a nothing, in order to let the royal theatre perform its magic.

      1. Robert Gray

        As a quick followup:

        At the risk of sounding crass, I think M. Sefcovic et al. should not be lulled by the upcoming funereal displays in the UK. Grasping 2021 Realpolitik by the nettle they should take a page from George Washington’s book and strike a midnight Christmas Eve commando assault across the Delaware River English Channel whilst Boring Johnson and the Crown forces are befuddled with their archaic pageantry. That would be ‘hardball’ indeed.

        1. ambrit

          Really now, if you want to play “hardball” with English politics, you could do worse than to have the EU back the claim of the Duke of Clarence to being the legitimate and rightful heir to the Throne of England. Taking the traditional route, an invasion force could sail from the Low Countries to Brixham and try a Coup de Main. There is precedent.

  9. The Rev Kev

    “How Taiwan Underwrites the US Defense Industrial Complex”

    A really interesting article until it reaches the end. It says that the U.S. government and semiconductor industry are unwilling to compete on the same footing with Taiwanese investment to advance domestic semiconductor manufacturing capabilities at the moment. So it is more a matter of won’t than can’t. So their idea is for Taiwan and the US to ‘coordinate and integrate U.S. and Taiwan defense and technology sectors’ which Taiwan would be nuts to agree to. It would amount to the US controlling Taiwan’s semiconductor industry and thus giving away it’s crown jewels. I could imagine how it would go. Taiwanese expertise and technology would flow to the US until the US was up to par and the US would order Taiwan to stop delivering any chips to China to cripple it. Of course once that happened, China would no longer need Taiwan and those Taiwanese foundries would then be considered a valid target for hacking and sabotage. There is enough risk at the moment with those foundries sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Yes, its a good overview, but it misses the big picture. The key one is that Taiwan now sees its dominance of semi-conductors as its biggest strategic asset. I presume its leaders know full well that no other country will intervene to help it out of the goodness of their hearts. They have to make themselves untouchable, and one way to do this is to ensure that its in nobodies interest for China to secure or destroy their chip fabs.

      As so often, what the US sees as securing its interests is, in reality, a smaller country manipulating US concerns in order to free ride on its military spending. Back in the 1980’s the US intervened to stop Taiwan developing nuclear warheads. My guess is that the longer term aim of Taiwan is to either get the go-ahead for warheads, or to persuade/manipulate the US into putting an armoured brigade or two onto the main island.

  10. Carolinian

    Re big box stores crowding out shipping–As is true every year the side parking lots of our local Walmarts are full of green shipping containers. Those looking for something to do after Thanksgiving dinner can go watch as pallets of flat screen TVs are hauled out of these into the store. Benton seems to have Black Friday down to a science.

    But at the moment they have some of the same empty shelves as other local grocery stores. And while Walmart traditionally has inventory and stocking problems, it seems to be worse than usual. There’s also the coin shortage problem and the apparent result that many of their self checkouts have switched to card only.

    So being big does have its downside.

    1. Craig H.

      When I went to Walmart and Safeway yesterday I saw high prices but I saw virtually zero empty shelves. I have never seen such a magnificent collection of consumer goods in my life. Apparently there is a market for fifty different styles of fishing rod.

      How many styles of fishing rod do they carry at the Big Box outdoors-man store I forget the name of?

    2. TimH

      What I really don’t understand, is who is buying these TVs? Shirley eveyone has a decent flat screen TV by now. The 32″ ones have been cheap for years now. Or is it upgrades to the 75″ sizes? Who has the free cash for that?

      1. ambrit

        Another use for those soon to be empty shipping containers is as local storage units for the Holiday Lay Away merchandise.
        Many Americans still ‘invest’ in the theory of “don’t pay today for what you can/cannot pay for tomorrow.”
        Will we see the introduction of “Lay Away Till Easter?”

        1. Carolinian

          The LED screen TVs are much more reliable than the original LCD flat screens and their flaky backlights. I went through two of the latter.

      2. Copeland

        We recently moved into a new house in a new development. We went from an 800sf house to 1600sf, and I have to admit, we did get a big (75″) TV for our much bigger living room. I felt pretty guilty about it, but then a family moved into their new house across the street that was just completed and before their moving truck arrived with their stuff, the dad arrived in his pickup with four new 85″ TV’s in the bed. Priorities.

        1. Paleobotanist

          I am still waiting on that washer machine repair part…..grrrrr…..
          Been 2 months in Montreal.

        2. juno mas

          Big HD TV’s aren’t that expensive anymore. It’s the Netflix subscription that steals your income.

    3. Amfortas the hippie

      and regarding the “self-checkouts”…i’ve been having to obtain some necessary items(like pipe fittings for the far flung pipes around here that i like to keep on-hand), from places in san antonio, since they have been unavailable way out here at our mom and pops’.
      also did a big stock-the-pantry grocery run to HEB in Fredericksburg.
      at all of these places, one live, human checker…always at the 20 items or less “express” lane….and a long line of human shoppers waiting there, shuffling their feet and looking around.
      the “self-checkout” areas have grown exponentially since the last time i went to these places, almost a year ago.
      at the lowe’s hardware i went to, there were no human checkers…so for the first time, i attempted to scan a bunch of curvy PVC fittings(pvc is not conducive to bar codes stamped upon them)…ended up having to sort of inadvertently engineer a long line so that someone would notice that i am far too luddite for such technical things…and a metrosexual guy(at a hardware store,lol…yet another white paper itching to be done) came over and did about half of my order, in a surprisingly surly manner.
      cash not accepted by the robot….glad i had wife’s debit card.
      and even they had bare shelves, and pallets stacked up in the aisles and sticking out of the big doors at the back.

      i suspise that this is due to: 1. these companies’ inability to figure out how to get people to work for them, and 2. forcing the drive to automation because that’s what they want, anyways.

      way out here, on the other hand…it’s random shortages and outages of a variety of things…one week my fave mom and pop gas station/beer store will be out of my kind of beer and diesel…next week, out of the keystone that fuels the local working class, and unleaded.
      pvc pipe fittings are unavailable…and it could take months to get a bunch of treated 12′ 2×6’s.
      milk, too…day before yesterday, i went to the regular grocery store, and the older dollar store(won’t set foot in the fancy new dollar tree)…and both had lots of gallons of 2%…but whole milk was limited to a handful of half gallons…and bread has been old and dry feeling, like it’s a few days old…
      i’ve expected that we would feel the effects of decline first, since we’re at the end of the truck routes…still.

      1. Maritimer

        Went to the Stuporstore yesterday. Human checkout intentionally way backed up so went to SelfScan. Big Screen on the Bot with Yours Truly on display like the Tonight Show. Script on screen says: “Now Recording.”

        Worked in IT at one time and massaged a few databases and know the Evil of the Digital Age. So, my opinion, those Recordings probably being used for Facial Recognition Testing and refining the oppressive machinery. Also, probably Behavioural Scientists gandering them to see what new manipulations may be in order.

        I only pay cash so they cannot also identify me and profile me as a customer.

        Have a good Digital Evening.

      2. juno mas

        I refuse to use self check-out technology. Checkout clerk is an accessible job for the young and old alike. The clerks always thank me for waiting.

        (Trader Joe’s does not use self-checkout and their profit margin is higher than the SuperStores.)

      3. Lambert Strether

        > ended up having to sort of inadvertently engineer a long line

        I’d say do this all the time, if it weren’t for all the others in line. Then again, if everybody in line did the same…

        > cash not accepted by the robot

        The object of the exercise. Silly me, I thought cash was legal tender?

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          aye. resistance takes many forms…i came of age in the 80’s…when terms like “Culturejamming” were new and TAZ was a radical fringe thing…and well before “The Matrix” became real.
          …and the wind…and the cat…woke me at 2am(damn the time changers!)…and i made coffee before i realised just how frelling early it was.
          and, among many other weird and thoughtful things(what i like to do on sunday early morning)…i came across this:

          which will have me likely thinking all day about how “Touch the Grass” became a Righty mantra in some circles.
          lost opportunity, right there…among so many others.
          and, more or less germane:
          a “new” political spectrum representation, derived from “asking questions, each of each…”, that somehow doesn’t mention “WOKE”, at all….
          i read through Pew’s dry enumerations twice, looking for myself in there, somewhere…and failing to locate Me in their categories…which represents a sort of continuity in my Life Arc…that Ur Homelessness i ramble about sometimes.
          anyhoo…check out the N.S Lyons thing.
          it’s a good one.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Sorry kids, there’s a Santa shortage”

    I don’t recall hearing much about Santa Clauses last year but when you stop and think about it, they are pretty vulnerable, even if they are vaccinated. They tend to be old and somewhat portly which is two strikes against them if they fall sick with this virus. In addition, they are exposed to hundreds of kids up close each and every day. Last year’s original strain was bad enough but the Delta strain has a taste for young kids. If the present Santa Clauses are reluctant to work and want more compensation, it may be because a lot of them are no longer with us and word got around with the rest of them in their circuit.

    1. griffen

      Just when we could use some good news. Next thing we know, the Griswold family Christmas is getting canceled too; cousin Eddie is just so last century after all (sarcasm yes).

      Could create an opportunity for middle aged, heavy set gentlemen willing to endure the physical requirements or limitations of the role. I can’t sit for long hours without making a beeline to the restroom, not any more.

  12. Tomislav Ladika

    Re the links about COVID in the EU, and the Dutch lockdown: I live in the Netherlands, where 87% of adults are vaccinated (mostly with Pfizer). Last week the RIVM (Dutch equivalent of CDC) released statistics on vaccination and hospitalizations for the month of October. I think these worth pointing out, because I haven’t seen comparable data for the U.S or elsewhere:

    Remarkably, 44% of the people hospitalized in October were fully vaccinated. That rate is about 65% for people 70+ years old. Moreover, 30% of people admitted to ICUs were fully vaccinated.

    I’ve been reading this site’s COVID coverage every day, so I’m well aware that vaccination does not stop COVID from spreading. Yet I am surprised at how high these rates are, especially for ICUs.

    To be clear, the data shows that vaccinated elderly are 7x less likely to be hospitalized than those who are unvaccinated. Effectiveness does not seem to be declining either—it’s only dropped 1% over two months. However the delta variant is so contagious, that there is still a large number of fully vaccinated people who end up hospitalized.

    I think the key point is: As long as the Delta variant is widespread in society, hospitals will continue to be stressed if not overfilled. Even with vaccines that are highly effective at preventing serious illness, and the vast majority of people fully vaccinated.

    1. Objective Ace

      > Effectiveness does not seem to be declining either—it’s only dropped 1% over two months.

      Where are you seeing this? It seems to counter mostly all the other data out there

      1. Tomislav Ladika

        Good point, that statistic warrants scrutiny.

        The latest RIVM report states that “vaccine effectiveness recently dropped very slightly (93% for hospital admission and 96% for ICU admission in the last 8 weeks, which is 1 percentage point lower than for the whole period from July-October)”. The RIVM director said the same to the Dutch parliament last week (see, e.g.,, and this was widely reported by the media.

        Those are aggregate stats. The most recent age breakdown I could find is from this RIVM study (in Dutch): This compares vaccine effectiveness for the Alpha/Delta period, and shows no drop for the elderly (see second to last column from Tabel 1 on page 9).

        A big caveat is that the study periods ends in August. So we may well be seeing a recent decline in vaccine effectiveness only among the elderly, which is indeed consistent with other countries’ experiences.

        If recent RIVM data show declining effectiveness among the elderly, then the director was incredibly misleading by citing only aggregate stats to parliament. Especially since the Netherlands has been slow to roll out booster shots, which perhaps could have prevented the latest lockdown. In my observation the RIVM has been quite transparent when publishing data rollout. But the Dutch government also repeatedly fails to learn from other countries’ mistakes (including its own).

        1. Objective Ace

          >vaccine effectiveness recently dropped very slightly (93% for hospital admission and 96% for ICU admission in the last 8 weeks

          What’s the likelihood of ending up in the ICU if you’ve never been vaccinated at all? I dont think its much lower than these percents in which case the reason the vaccine effictiveness decrease has slowed is because its approaching the lower bound of your bodies natural immunity to Covid

          1. Tomislav Ladika

            In this case, I think vaccine effectiveness is calculated by compared the rate of admissions of unvaccinated and vaccinated people. Example: Suppose each day 10 out of 100,000 unvaccinated people is admitted to the hospital compared to 1 out of 100,000 vaccinated people. Then effectiveness is (10-1)/10 = 0.9 or 90%. (Not sure about how partially vaccinated people fit into calculations.)

            You could use the 10 out of 100,000 rate as a rough estimate of a body’s natural immunity to serious COVID. Then, vaccine effectiveness should converge to 0 as you approach natural immunity.

            Potentially big caveat is that all these statistics are only valid when everything else is held constant between vaccinated and unvaccinated people. That is the case in a good randomized trial, but I wonder how valid at these stats when calculated for broader society.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              As our GM has pointed out, that metric is lousy even though pervasively used.

              How much the vaccine protects can only be measured if you know how many people were exposed, or if you have a matched control group. Right now there are all sorts of (at least previously) highly respected people loudly touting how in the UK or in the US a very small number of vaccinated people caught the virus, so the efficiency of the vaccine is measured as that small number divided by the very large number of vaccinated people. But this is a schoolboy statistical error that those people know very well not to commit, and the fact that they are so blatantly breaking the rules of proper reasoning is a clear indication that their cheerleading is driven by non-scientific considerations.

              You need to know how many people were exposed, which, however, is usually impossible. This is why you have a control group during trials and vaccine efficiency is measured during trials.

              On the other hand, breakthrough infections are an indisputable observable and that puts a hard upper bound of vaccine efficiency. It can be lower, but not higher than that.

              1. Pat

                Add to that that data in America is deliberately bad. We do not have easily available free testing. We have a whole lot of people who avoid testing and most tellingly we try not to find out about mild but infectious breakthrough cases.

                I would need to know more about the Dutch methods before commenting, but any claims of vaccine effectiveness in America should be taken with a Matterhorn sized grain of salt before even considering that nagging detail of not knowing the amount of exposure.

  13. fresno dan

    Long Overdue:’ Washington Post Corrects Articles About Steele Dossier Washington Post
    FROM the link: We found out this week, for example, that a key figure in the emergence of the Steele Dossier, Igor Danchenko, has been indicted for lying to the FBI. He is also charged with asking a Clinton crony, Charles Dolan Jr: “Any thought, rumor, allegation. I am working on a related project against Trump.”

    The evidence from another key source for the dossier, Sergei Millian — touted across all media, including the Washington Post — has also been exposed as potentially fake. What has the Post done? As their own indispensable Erik Wemple notes, instead of a clear retraction, the Post has just added editors’ notes to previous stories, removed sections and a video, and altered headlines retroactively. This is a bizarre way of correcting the record: “No such case comes immediately or specifically to mind, at least no historical case that stirred lasting controversy,” said W. Joseph Campbell, a professor and journalism historian at American University.

    This doesn’t mean that Trump wasn’t eager for Russian help. But Trump was right, in the end, about the dodgy dossier; he was right about the duped FBI’s original overreach; and the mass media — Rachel Maddow chief among them — were wrong. And yet the dossier dominated the headlines for three years, and the “corrections” have a fraction of the audience of the errors. Maddow gets promoted. And the man who first published it, Ben Smith, was made the media columnist for the NYT.

    1. Klärchen

      “This doesn’t mean that Trump wasn’t eager for Russian help.” This is apparently the last-stand talking point for Russiagaters. It was repeated by Adam Schiff (ugh) when he was confronted about his lying by Morgan Ortagus on The View. These people need to be told to shut up every time they open their mouths now.

      As for Andrew Sullivan (ugh), I remember when he called anyone who wouldn’t go along with the Iraqi WMD bs “Fifth Columnists”.

      And I’ll never forget it.

    2. Lambert Strether

      > the Post has just added editors’ notes to previous stories, removed sections and a video, and altered headlines retroactively. This is a bizarre way of correcting the record

      This is what Stalin did with the Great Soviet Encylcopedia, so why not The Jeff Bezos Daily Shopper™?

  14. Leftist Mole

    I see no purpose in setting ones child on a costumed stranger’s lap. We raised our kids to do Christmas without religion or Santa. The only problem we encountered was we had to ask them to not tell the other kids at school there was no Santa.

    1. Maritimer

      Good on you.

      It certainly is a strange societal idea that parents should lie to their children that there is a Santa Claus with all the attendant commercial nonsense. Then, at a certain unknown age, the lie must be undone. Thanks, Mom and Dad.

      Another strange phenom is Real Santa. There was once (May still be) a Real Santa Company, i.e. rent a Santa with real beard, fat, etc. In other words, in this Fake Santa World, get a Real Fake Santa not a phony Fake Santa!

      I will allow others to make comparisons to the Covid Vax, vax, vax World.

  15. Jason Boxman

    On the Iowa Democratic candidate, as it happens — and this is from Wikipedia as I know little of Iowa Democrat politics — there are 5 Democrat candidates in the primary. I wonder if Abby Finkenauer, by standing with workers, has invited the DSCC to actively work against her candidacy? Declared candidates:

    – Abby Finkenauer, former U.S. Representative for Iowa’s 1st congressional district (2019–2021)[8]
    – Michael T. Franken, retired U.S. Navy Admiral, former aide to former U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy, and candidate for U.S. Senate in 2020[3][9][10][11]
    – Glenn Hurst, member of the Minden city council and chair of the Iowa Democratic Party Rural Caucus[12]
    – Bob Krause, president of the Veterans National Recovery Center, former state representative for the 7th district (1973–1979), and candidate for U.S. Senate in 2010[13]
    – Dave Muhlbauer, former Crawford County supervisor (2017–2021)[14]

    Does anyone know who the Democrat Establishment candidate(s) is? I’ll be surprised if it is Finkenauer, given how little regard Democrats have for working people outside of taking their campaign contributions.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      If she wins, she will “fight for us”. She won’t win anytime, but she will be there duking it out for “the little people” who elected her. Just like Kristen Sinema.

      1. Late Introvert

        I had high hopes for her in Congress after her campaign talked the talk about workers and wages, but she just kissed Nancy’s uh, skirt and then lost to blond TV news Betty. She won’t be getting a check from me but I will vote for her if she gets the nod (I can’t vote in the primary as I changed my registration after the Iowa Cockups of 2020.)

    2. anonymous

      In her Congressional races, Finkenauer largely campaigned on supporting unions. Her father was a union welder and she said that she would always keep his worn sweatshirt with burn holes, a prop in her ads, with her. She had been a proponent of M4A, saying on video in an interview with Indivisible that it was the only thing that made sense, until she was chosen by the DCCC as a red-to-blue candidate, and she adopted the party line about access, etc., instead. She was a volunteer coordinator for Biden in 2007-8, he held a rally for her in 2018, and she endorsed him in 2020. In Congress, she worked on the Small Business Committee and the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and she was made chair of the Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade and Entrepreneurship. I expect her to be the candidate who gets the DSCC support for Grassley’s seat. I do think she is hard working and well intentioned at this point in her career, but I agree with Late Introvert that she follows Pelosi’s lead.

      Mike Franken was one of the Senate candidates the last time around for Ernst’s seat. Although Franken had extensive military (Iowa loves that) and administrative experience, had been a legislative fellow for Ted Kennedy, and seemed to be viewed favorably by the local party leaders, the DSCC threw all its weight behind Theresa Greenfield, a commercial real estate executive whom they dressed in “farm attire” to pose in front of barns and silos. Her backstory was that she grew up on a farm, although in another state (that matters here), and when her first husband died, she received a lot of support from his union. For months, her only position seemed to be that she would take no corporate PAC money, although she received millions from the Senate Majority PAC, which did not go unnoticed. IMO, Franken would have had a better chance of defeating Ernst.

      For Grassley’s seat, in addition to Franken, there is also a real farmer, Dave Mulbauer, who is campaigning against corporate agriculture and does not need farmer costumes from the DSCC. I believe he could also be appealing to voters, although he would get no big money support, and corporate ag and the Farm Bureau would do their best to destroy him.

      If Dems want the seat, I see Franken as their best chance. There was a lot of backlash over the early, heavy hand of the DSCC in the last Senate primary, when it seemed the local party leaders would have favored Franken, but this time, the party locals will probably be torn between Franken, who could be more likely to win, and Finkenauer, who has already held an elected federal office, has a network of local organizers, and has powerful party ties. Iowa, which not only voted for Obama twice, but once was one of the handful of states that went for Dukakis in the general, has subsequently turned quite red, so for a Dem to win a Senate seat would require that the candidate also appeal to Republicans or, at the very least, not inspire a huge opposition voter turnout. Finkenauer is too closely associated with Biden and Pelosi to carry the state. These are my predictions, not my preferences.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      ‘Green’ bridges or underpasses are quite common in road and railway construction around the world. They make a huge difference for most species, although they have to be very carefully constructed. In Europe, high speed rail lines usually have badger tunnels carefully designed to match badger highways – they are notoriously conservative in how they like to move around (its almost impossible to get a badger to change its foraging route once its developed a habit – a badger – presumably the same one – nearly knocked me off my bike twice over the course of a month in an identical location on a park bike path).

      This isn’t for the sake of the badger – its because badgers are big enough to derail a HSR.

    2. Josef K

      That map of the poor bear just trying to live its life is so sad. We really are humunkind.

      Good to see WSDOT or whoever is augmenting the already existing underpasses with overpasses. Well worth the cost and they should be putting in more than one every 10-20 miles. It’s a good start.

  16. Burritonomics

    Re: “Long Overdue: Washington Post Corrects Articles About Steele Dossier”
    Minor corrective note – that article is sourced from The Epoch Times, not the Washington Post.

    1. PlutoniumKun

      Its very easy to confuse those two publications, since both are run according to the agenda of right wing billionaire sociopaths with runaway egos.

  17. Mikel

    You’re highlighting Anthony J Leonardi, PhD, MS and then I read that tweet and this from hom on the same thread:
    “Get the vaccine and avoid infection”
    He’s telling people essentially these are sterilizing vaccines and they are not.WTH?

    “Vaccinations” would be off the charts if the sjots did indeed prevent people from getting an investion.
    The guy didn’t say “avoid hospitilization” ..the “doctor” is tweeting about info like the shots are something that it’s been proven over and over again that they are not.

    1. saywhat?

      What he’s really doing is admitting the “vaccines” DON’T prevent infection so one must avoid infection some other way (social distancing, masks, etc.)?

      1. mistah charley, ph.d.

        That is the way I understand it in context – do get the vaccine, but do not rely on it to prevent infection, also take other measures.

    2. marku52

      I think his position is that every covid infection damages your immune system, and the worse the infection, the worse the damage. Hence take protective measures, (masks, don’t do stupid stuff, etc) and take the vaccine in case your measures fail.

  18. Mikel

    “Johnson & Johnson Will Break Itself Up Into Two Companies”

    The debt and liability spin-offs continue.
    Alot of companies doing the same thing at the same time.

    1. Angie Neer

      When I heard on the radio “Johnson & Johnson will break into two companies,” I so desperately, viscerally, wanted the sentence to end “each named Johnson.” Alas, no.

      1. Josef K

        I’ve been mulling over a better username, (my Kafkaesque living situation is also “oh so sadly” coming to an end). Keep the ideas coming.

    2. chuck roast

      I couldn’t get by the paywall, but I’m guessing Johnson got all the debt and Johnson got all the patents.

    3. Jason Boxman

      IBM just did this with its spin-off. Reading the deal terms, I found it most curious that IBM was offloading some debt, likely accumulated as part of the funding for the Red Hat purchase, to the new company. Because somehow that makes sense, eh?

  19. Tom Stone

    I think we are just beginning to see the supply chain problems, there are a lot of feedback loops starting to surface.
    No special glue for paper bags, no pepperoni for pizza parlors in flyover, shortages of medication…Petal mentioned bioreactors and earlier, vials needed for blood tests, belts for commercial dishwashers…
    Microchips,fertilizer,spare parts for whatever.
    Tightly coupled highly complex dynamic systems fail slowly and then seemingly all at once,ISTM we’re leaving the slowly stage.
    And having “leaders” throughout the west that make the habsburgs look competent is the icing on the cake.
    Which reminds me of a bumper sticker, “Bulimics have their cake,and eat it too”

    1. chris

      Add this to your list, no roast beef at the delis we tried to order lunch from for a work meeting last week. We were outside of Allentown, PA. The first 3 places we called had no roast beef. So we have up and ordered something else.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > The first 3 places we called had no roast beef. So we have up and ordered something else.

        Which is a First World problem. Until it isn’t (i.e., until some of these small cascades we are seeing interact and cause larger cascades. Parts especially, I would think. Especially parts with lifespans, like gaskets).

        UPDATE Heck, I thought I’d do a search on gaskets. Here we are, from the blog of a company called Elasto Proxy:

        Yet there would still be production problems even if all of the materials you needed magically appeared. Today, companies in all industries are striving to meet pent-up demand that’s now broken loose. Adding a second or even a third shift can increase a manufacturer’s production capacity, but companies can’t seem to hire faster workers fast enough or find employees who have the right skills. Again, consider the example of gasket fabrication.

        If you cut rubber gaskets in-house with hand tools, the last thing you want to do during a labor shortage is to deploy highly-skilled employees (such as welders) on tasks like this. You can outsource your gasket fabrication instead, and you’ll improve efficiency if you choose water jet cutting. Still, even this semi-automated process requires labor. There are CAD drawings to review, machines to load with sheets or extrusions, and cut lengths or finished gaskets to bond, box, and ship.

        If a fabricator can hire enough workers, it may still be a challenge to deploy them properly since a sudden stockout can leave employees idle. There are also limits to how much rubber a machine can cut in a unit of time. At Elasto Proxy, we’ve recently added a second water jet cutter and have hired additional staff. Yet, these are just two legs of a three-legged production stool. At a time when stockouts are common, we’re asking our customers to share their sales forecasts so that we’ll have everything that they need.

        Adhesives would be another such product, I would think.

    2. Eclair

      In western New York state, we have been experiencing shortages in fencing materials for the last year. No 8 foot metal stakes. We finally located a half dozen 6 footers at our small hardware store. And, we apparently purchased the last roll of 6 foot high welded wire fencing …. in April. In September, I discovered that our local Tractor Supply store had an on-line order system and we ordered 175 feet of the 6 foot welded wire, to be delivered to the store in 7 days. 5 days later, an e-mail notified us that the order had been cancelled. No explanation. The taller chicken wire has also disappeared, so we made do with a double row of 3 foot chicken wire, to fence in the addition to the veg garden.

      No shortage of deer! My Amish friend told me yesterday that her nephew and friend, riding home from a job in their buggy at dusk, had counted 99 deer. Ten miles along little-traveled gravel roads with open meadows bounded by woods, but still …. Which is why we need the metal posts and welded wire.

      Oh, and a restaurant last Friday evening, the hostess announced to us that ‘due to supply chain problems,’ there would be no deep-fried pickles on the menu that evening. She may have been echoing an Onion headline, or being deeply ironic.

  20. Mikel

    “Cats can track your ‘invisible presence’ using only their ears CNN”

    Maybe a cat owner can explain what is so novel about this study, because I swear I can remember studies about audio perception in humans and animals that make this “study” redundant.
    I don’t have a cat, but I’ve been around them and enough other animals to know that they do this type of thing with ears and a central nervous system.

    1. rowlf

      Having enjoyed sneaking up on awake cats inside/outside and watching them freak out about being surprised, I am not sure how rigorous the study was. Yes, cats can sense a food container being opened several rooms away and one of my sons’ cats can teleport onto my bed whenever I lay down, but how often are they actually tuned in to the environment?

      Dogs are harder to sneak up on.

      1. Mason

        Its their mood. Playful or nervous, good luck sneakin’ on them.

        For me though whether I want to be sneaky or not, I just want to hear their chirps. Mirp.

      2. Jen

        Until they start to lose their hearing. Then it’s pretty easy. I went outside to bring in some wood the other day and came in to find the boy dog in the kitchen looking up the stairs. Touched his back and he jumped about 2 feet in the air. His momentary embarrassment gave way to rapturous “you’re here!, you’re here!” wiggles. I love dogs. If that were either of my cats they still wouldn’t be speaking to me.

        1. rowlf

          Based on experience with strong and healthy barn cats, I recommend never scaring the cat bare-handed, use a stick or other object, as they like to jump up about upper thigh level and then try to find traction. Or run up your shoulder.

  21. Bazarov

    Is anyone having weird posting problems? I have a comment about covid I’ve been trying to post to this thread, but every time I hit “Post Comment,” the page reloads and my comment is nowhere to be found (in the past, when a comment has gone to moderation, it shows a copy of the comment with a bold bar above it that says it’s in moderation). It seems to just disappear into the aether.

    Am I hitting some kind of trip wire that puts the kibosh on a comment before it even hits moderation? If this comment goes through, perhaps that’s what’s going on.

    1. ObjectiveFunction

      If you take too long to compose, it often boots you to moderation. Also, if you post a new comment as opposed to replying to someone else, I notice it goes to moderation more frequently regardless of content or length.

      All that said, I find it rare (though it does happen) that comments vanish entirely never to be seen again. Overall, this site does a fantastic job.

      1. Lambert Strether

        None of us really understand how Skynet works.

        UPDATE I — don’t they know who I am? — just got moderated, after posting a short comment on the supply chain, and then opening the comment again to edit it after doing some research on gaskets, which took a few minutes.

        So there may be something to the idea that leaving the comment box open for a long time makes Mr. Skynet sad.

  22. Cat Burglar

    Studies at our house confirm that cats also have mental pictures of more important things than their human companions. For example, butter.

    The image of a cube of butter, an object persisting most of the time inconveniently out of sight in the refrigerator, yet attended with lickable and sniffable attributes of the most alluring type, can be attended by a definite sonic signature. A cat soundly asleep, upside down on a bed at the end of the house furthest from the kitchen, has been shown to appear on the kitchen counter, wide awake, even before the first slice of butter can be applied to hot toast.

    “Almost as if they knew,” as my roommate puts it.

    1. Paleobotanist

      Lovely baroque music group from Catalonia. Does anyone here know how I can buy their albums as .mp4 files without using Amazon? I really hate Amazon and the way you get forced into it if you try to buy anything that isn’t in English. They have vultured the European world.

      Appreciate any tips. I can cope with websites in French and English and maybe Spanish.


      1. MarqueJaune

        I don’t think that Alia Vox publishes/sells digital versions of their records…

        But maybe you can try and contact your local distributor

        If not their editions are very well produced, with lots of info on the booklets

        And Jordi Savall is one of the names when it comes ancient music

  23. antidlc

    RE: Kimmel tweet:

    Just tested positive for COVID. Went out to dinner w/ a friend on Fri who called me on Sun saying he just tested positive. I got hit with fever/cough/chest pain/body aches on Tues & did 2 home tests w/ positive results. Had COVID Jan ‘20, vaccinated Mar ‘21. This ain’t over folks

    Did he not know that going out to dinner was risky, even though he was vaccinated?

    1. Nikkikat

      Everyone I encounter seems to think that the vaccine is a magic potion that gives them immunity. I also see it repeated over and over in the MSM about selfish people who won’t get vaccinated.
      A neighbor that came to my door was unmasked and attempted to hug me. I stepped back nearly slamming the door on her. All the while she kept saying “I’m vaccinated, I thought you were too!” People do think it enables them to do as they please.
      I wear a mask every where, I only go in the grocery or bank and I’m double masked with both a surgical and KN95. I wear it outside. I am also vaccinated but I doubt it is going to do much for me. I wouldn’t go into a restaurant for anything ever. People are having big weddings, there is a line at the movie theater. And the reason for the sudden hot spots of covid every where? My neighborhood had huge Halloween parties. Doesn’t bode well for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It won’t be long before I have to tell the relatives that I don’t want them coming over and I will not be coming over. It is depressing and awful. I feel like my life is ruined, but I hope to live a little longer.

      1. rowlf

        I am in the US and if I mention anything that questions the vaccines effectiveness, such as reports from studies in other countries outside the US media bubble, people look at me like I am a talking dog. Having worked in environments where no PPE meant you croaked I’m ok with masks and am almost Finnish with social distancing, but I can’t see much of a future without realistic reporting of the virus, vaccines and best practices for treatment and mitigation.

      2. Keith Newman

        I have encountered the same thing re vaccination in most people I know. They think it eliminates transmission despite plenty of media now, finally, saying it doesn’t. I’ll often point out that while the vax does reduce transmission a little, it’s not reliable on that score and cite conclusions from top flight mainstream medical journals culled from Naked Capitalism. However the desire to believe in protection is strong. I too believed in that at one point as well. I think we were misled initially, intentionally or not, by health authorities. To confuse us, there are well-known vaccines against measles, smallpox and other diseases that do confer sterilizing immunity.
        With respect to visiting family and friends, a well fitting N95 masks is very effective. Could you not attend get-togethers and say you are concerned for yourself and want to wear a mask? If nobody else is wearing a mask and so are protecting no-one, including themselves, you could use a mask with a valve. They are less unpleasant to wear than non-valve masks (but don’t protect other people).

  24. griffen

    Ex-governor Cuomo, article linked above. A fun discussion of anatomical parts. Apparently, Cuomo was in debate about what is or could be called “butt-adjacent”…you can not make this up. Oh and a fun environment for the highest office in the empire state. Why would any right-thinking adult be in his lap (unless I misread that segment)?

    “It depends on what the meaning of “is”, is.”

    We’re adding a new category, perhaps, to detail a sort of egregious behavior.

  25. NotThePilot

    Re “An Astronomer Cancels His Own Research”:

    This story sort of reinforces my belief, contra Quillete (though props to them for carrying the story), that “cancel culture” is like a bogeyman from a children’s story. It can only hurt you to the extent you actually believe in it. Apologize with dignity for genuine mistakes, patiently respond to legit criticisms, decisively swat down the rest, and it disappears in a puff of smoke.

    The real issue in this story is a lot more serious though and undergirds many other ones: the technical classes have become over-specialized, isolated, and politically incompetent. And I’d say that applies to engineers in addition to scientists, though at least in the US, it takes a very different form for them. Lots of selling one’s birthright for a mess of pottage, supporting conservative / libertarian politics without examination.

    The climate crisis, supply-chain crisis, infrastructure, industrial policy, military projects, the Boeing MAX, I could go on. The common thread to all of these problems is that there are lots of very competent people that know how to fix them & want to, but at least in America, they’re collectively worse at gaining & wielding power than randos on Twitter.

    1. Dftbs

      I think you describe the situation well.

      The common thread to all of these problems is that there are lots of very competent people that know how to fix them & want to, but at least in America, they’re collectively worse at gaining & wielding power than randos on Twitter.

      There is no organizing principle in America. There is a disorganizing impulse, which maintains itself with increasingly antisocial incentives.

  26. NotThePilot

    Re “an upgrade on calculus”:

    I could only read the start without a subscription, but I had never heard of fractional calculus so I went to Wikipedia. It’s interesting that what looks like a relatively simple (if advanced) concept adds so much power; I guess my initial intuition would be that any differential equation involving fractional orders could be reduced back to some canonical form without them.

    You really do learn something new every day. Not gonna lie though, some of that notation in the wiki article gave me PTSD flashbacks.

  27. Eustachedesaintpierre

    I suppose that it is the same amazing thing for many others when Rick Beato’s love for a song is as deep as their own. Well the experience was once again mine & judging by the comments it was also very special for many others – the previous occasion featured Pink Floyd’s Comfortably Numb.

    Breaking Down Pat Metheny & Lyle Mays Most Beautiful Song – September Fifteenth – (1980) being the date of the death of Bill Evans – sadly Lyle has since also left us – February Tenth – (2020).

  28. dcblogger

    I wonder if a very small part of the supply chain problems are what I would call nervous buying. Today I purchased 2 boxes of tea, instead of my usual one, laundry detergent, even though I could go another week without purchasing more, 6 cans of diced tomatoes instead of my usual 2, and a package of panties that I could easily wait another 6 months to purchase. Yesterday I purchased a USB flash drive, that I did not strictly speaking, need, although will be very convenient. These are items I consider essential to my daily comfort and would be very sorry to go without. Not panic buying, just a little extra. But how many other people are making similar decisions?

    1. Rainlover

      I think you’ve spotted a trend, dc. I have a friend who buys TP every time she buys groceries. I also buy extra sale items when I would not have done so in the past. I am motivated partly by rising prices but also by a looming sense of disaster.

    2. ambrit

      I have “it” a bit worse than you, but rationalize it by thinking of it as pre-prepper syndrome. I also buy a big package of toilet paper every time I go to the shops. Some of it is a carry over from the days when we really were materially poor. Another motivation is a general malaise observable when out in the public spaces. Almost no smiles, no laughter, shoulders hunched forward, rapid strides, even yanking the dog on the leash along. Driving on the city streets was always a bit of an adventure, but now…
      Given what we know about the supply chain issues, added to the transport woes and labour dislocations, I would say that this “nervous buying” is a rational response to the uncertainty we see in the near future.

    3. Lambert Strether

      > nervous buying

      Good frame. And what other outlet do we have for nervousness other than purchasing goods? Well, fentanyl, but maybe that’s just the ultimate edge case of consumption…..

  29. NotThePilot

    Re “How Many Wars Does Joe Biden Want to Fight?”

    Though I’m not sure it treads any new ground, I agree with almost all the article. However, the author does say one thing I always hear but frankly I’m not so sure about, precisely because I always hear it with such certainty but no justification:

    Although Iran would lose any conventional fight, it could wreak havoc across the Middle East.

    The few times I’ve been in conversations with people about it, I think it always surprises them, but I say Iran could conventionally win a war with the US (of course they would have to sacrifice a lot). The way everyone, both hawks & doves, talks about the US fighting Iran gives me serious Russia in 1903 vibes.

    One thing I really like that this article mentioned that doesn’t seem to show up nearly enough in articles about military policy (my emphasis added):

    Russia would have more at stake, concentrate a preponderance of forces at the critical point, and deploy nuclear weapons to deter Americans from taking advantage of its full superiority.

    As the meme might go…
    Broke: Har har, we have more soldiers / planes / boats than you
    Woke: We should apply Full-Spectrum Dominance(TM)
    Bespoke: Just tell me where the Schwerpunkt is

  30. chris

    Sharing this Medium article because I can only believe that the breathless interpretation of what happened on January 6th is what some people in our media and ruling class believe. The line about “many” police officers dying during the event is especially curious, since based on the reporting that’s been publicly available 6 police who were present during the riot have died, and 4 of them by suicide. Another one died from injuries sustained during the riot which may have occurred due to medical conditions. I would never say that these people dying isn’t a tragedy but 6 isn’t many and 2 certainly isn’t many either.

    Also interesting to see the author blame the Democrats for squandering their chance to save America but in this telling the thing they didn’t do enough of was… tackling white supremacy?

    No mention of economics. No mention of forever wars. No mention of failing to deliver health care. No mention of the poor handling of the pandemic. No mention of corruption or anything else. If anyone who agrees with this author decides to leave the country I think that would be a good thing.

  31. marym

    Cancel culture

    New Hampshire has set up a system for letting the public turn in public school teachers for violation of its new anti-divisive subject matter law, and Moms for Liberty have offered a cash reward to parents who use it.

    New Hampshire’s GOP-controlled legislature inserted its “anti” language into this year’s budget…and as many critics have noted, the language is particularly vague, forbidding the teaching “divisive concepts” related to race and gender is exceptionally vague.

    While many states have anti laws that are also vague, New Hampshire has added another layer guaranteed to chill classroom speech; teachers who violate the law can be brought before state authorities and lose their license if it is found they have “discriminated against an individual or identified group.”

    On Friday, [Moms for Liberty] tweeted “We’ve got $500 for the person that first successfully catches a public school teacher breaking this law. Students, parents, teachers, school staff…We want to know! We will pledge anonymity if you want.” End someone’s career, and collect a bounty. (The term “bounty” is not hyperbole; in response to a question about how to contribute, Moms for Liberty NH suggested to PayPal them and mark “CRT Bounty” in the notes.)

    1. Late Introvert

      The Texas abortion law was a stroke of genius by the chaos artists in charge, get everyone to be a snitch for cash. The Stasi really were pikers in comparison.

  32. The Rev Kev

    “Belarus and the Migrant Gap”

    I see that even the British are sending about 40 soldiers to help Poland rebuild their wall. Would it be too crass to mention that all this started when the EU tried to engineer a colour revolution in Belarus which flopped dismally. This was a pretty quiet part of the world before then and now it has become confrontation central. I guess that what goes around comes around and now the EU is going to have to figure a way out of this self created mess. Sort of like Libya come to think of it – but without the mass deaths and slavery – so there is that.

  33. jr

    I thought I had posted this earlier but I may have closed my browser before I did. Apologies if it was modded for some flag:

    Hmm, found some problems with the canceled astronomy article:

    “Astronomy seems to be in trouble, as it is increasingly populated by researchers who seem more concerned with terrestrial politics than celestial objects, and who at times view the search for truths about nature as threatening.”

    Ooops, he should have written “models”, not “truths”, unless he thinks those models are completely understandable and understood.

    “This became obvious in recent years, once the proposed Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) project in Hawaii was being blocked by Indigenous protestors, who view the mountain it is to be built on as sacred…..But a protest in support of the Indigenous groups by advocates in the astronomy community now means that it is an open question as to whether the TMT will ever be built.”

    Perhaps the author should take a course in the history of Hawaii and he might understand why those people feel the way they do. And why they hold the mountain sacred. We all have our religious inclinations. See my comment above.
    “Last week yielded another ominous sign of the times, as eminent astronomer John Kormendy retracted an article…..His article focused on statistical results relating to the evaluation of the “future impact” of astronomers’ research as a means to “inform decisions on resource allocation such as job hires and tenure decisions.””
    I have no love for the Woke mob in any setting but I have to say I instinctively recoil from this sort of language and thinking. It’s all just herding people into pre-approved boxes. Who knows what their “future impact” might actually be? This is about institutional control, I think.
    “Of course, statistical analyses of real-world human data are always subject to the possibility that systematic biases can inappropriately skew the claimed results.”
    Like, isn’t that the entire point of Kormendy’s research? To apply as well as shape the systemic biases in astronomy? By judging “future impacts” by today’s standards, his standards? So, where’s the beef?
    “Those who claim in advance, without new analysis or data, that someone else’s research results are “harmful” or threatening, without challenging its accuracy, should consider another profession.”
    I tend to agree but again isn’t that kind of what Kormendy is doing in his own way? Wildly different standards yes, but consider that evaluating researchers, and research, by possible future outcomes is to claim in advance that it is at least a waste of time, if not a threat. But how could you know that with certainty? I realize that when research is evaluated that you have to have an idea of where it’s going, you do have to try to judge the future to a degree. But I imagine this project being turned into some kind of app where researchers who fall outside the acceptable parameter feedback loop just disappear.
    “Kormendy has been interested for some time in metrics that scientists can use to ensure that their assessment of potential hires and promotions are less subjective.”
    Here’s the nut. Take the human out of the picture as much as possible and use Kormendy’s standards in their place. Not that this is some big scheme of Kormendy’s, I’m sure there are a billion Kormendy’s in the sciences who think this way. I get a foul whiff of behavioral science necromancy from this mess.
    “As with all areas in which decisions depend on human perceptions, there is no methodology that is universally guaranteed to work.”
    I’m not familiar with any decisions that don’t depend upon my perceptions but then I’m not an astronomer. I also wonder what other methodologies are in the works to control people. Now that I know it’s a hobby for some people. Probably some other kind of spread sheet. It’s more efficient!
    “recognizing that his emphasis on applying quantitative metrics to human-resource evaluation would be viewed with skepticism by those who claim that such metrics embed systemic biases, and that their use presents obstacles to inclusion.”
    His emphasis does embed systemic biases, just not in the way that the Woke ideologues in the administrative office think. It’s interesting, two different forms of what is ultimately authoritarianism bumping heads. It’s like watching tumors fight.
    “He makes it clear up front that quantitative metrics cannot tell us everything we need to know about a candidate.”
    Yeah, and then he says the standard is their proposed “scientific impact”. The candidate was a great guy, interesting ideas. Sadly, when we ran him through the app, his proposed impact was low so….
    “which Kormendy attempts to develop into a prediction machine”
    “Finally, one can always question the subjective assessments of those 22 designated sages tasked with measuring “impact,”…..may reflect the same kind of subjectivity that Kormendy’s whole project is designed to avoid.”
    You can say that again. This time, at the beginning of your article. How could it be any other way?
    A lot of Woke-babble power jockeying tactics then:
    “Nevertheless, even imperfect quantitative metrics can improve on qualitative assessments made in the absence of such metrics…..would expose, for better or worse, those whose metrics are low”
    Huh? Neverthewhat? So just having some numbers in hand makes the assessments more valid? Definitively? Even though those numbers are deeply suspect? And the concept of applying those numbers is suspect? Like you noted above? Another token of faith!
    “There may be lots of reasons for such low scores, including bias. But low scores can also mean that the evaluated researchers are simply not productive or impactful.”
    Right, so let’s not be so quick to streamline a process that might miss some grains amongst the chaff.
    “Moreover, as much as one might dislike quantitative—or “objective”—merit-based metrics, the alternatives have……been worse—and include nepotism and cronyism.”
    But how would you know?! You just got done listing all the problems you know of but then go on to say that it’s at least better than it was. Why was it worse? Too many people in the chain of decisions? And do you think nepotism and cronyism will be scared off by a spreadsheet? The writer needs to take a human psychology course and read a lot of novels.
    More Woke power play then:
    “This is one reason why scientific articles should never be retracted simply because they might cause offense. Truth can hurt, but too bad.”
    But it’s ok to kill them in the cradle by advancing research that is deemed worthy by a streamlined set of criteria determined by “sages” while the unworthy are pushed aside. The truth can hurt, it can hurt institutional biases and ideological perspectives as well. It’s a good thing the author deals in models, instead.
    “What makes this example particularly sad is that Kormendy’s intent was clearly to stimulate healthy discussion and improve fairness…”
    Right, his ideas of fairness and the 20 sages. What could be fairer? 25 sages!
    “….to such extent that attempting a modest contribution to better science can be attacked”
    Except we really don’t know if it’s going to better science. It’s just a better feedback loop for what Krause and Koremendy thinks makes better science. Oh, and the 20 sages. Plus you can run it on your phone, so it’s convenient.
    “by those who believe that a quantitative exploration of certain data sets can be harmful or threatening.”
    They can be very harmful when they push aside subjective decisions in favor of, well, supposedly objective but still very subjective decisions in a format that can vaporize competing ideas with the touch of a mousepad. Which is what will happen because it’s cheaper and more convenient for almost everyone to glance down a computer screen than meet with colleagues and etc. etc. What a boon to budgets!
    The answer to the problems of subjectivity is more subjectivity, more people in the process of evaluating the future of research. More money for people to not only judge research by the standards of today but to imagine where it might go, so as to avoid the reification of standards and miss the next best thing. Isn’t that the point?

    1. Pat

      I am surprised it got that far on Staten Island. You have to remember that SI is conservative, Republican, and a total outlier where NYC is concerned.
      Labor is up against it, but good on them for trying in an area where their odds are possibly worse than anywhere in NY.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        People in NYC know what a union is and what it can do. The people of Bessemer never even knew what a union was, let alone join one. So yeah, no union vote means not good things

  34. allan

    How two Ohio GOP lawmakers hijacked Ohio’s new redistricting process []

    Under the Ohio Constitution, all seven members of the Ohio Redistricting Commission are supposed to be on equal footing.

    But in reality, only two commissioners, who have a direct stake in what new state legislative maps look like, had any real influence on how the commission drew Ohio’s new House and Senate maps, according to court documents filed as part of Ohio’s ongoing gerrymandering lawsuits.

    The documents show how House Speaker Bob Cupp and Senate President Matt Huffman held the process close, having their aides draw the maps in secret, preventing even other Republicans on the commission from working with them. Cupp and Huffman are chosen for their leadership positions by their fellow lawmakers, giving them a vested personal interest in what the maps end up looking like. …

    In other words, they have skin in the game. Just as the Founding Fathers intended.

    … Meanwhile, Republican commission members Secretary of State Frank LaRose and state Auditor Keith Faber, who are elected statewide and represent a separate branch of state government, said Cupp and Huffman froze them out of the process. …

    The GOP has `hacked’ the Constitution, while the other side is issuing sternly worded Tweets.
    Chief Justice Balls-and-Strikes, now in the liberal minority on the Court,
    will throw up his hands in helplessness and decry the `sociological gobbledygook’ on both sides.
    Game over.

  35. The Rev Kev

    “China’s Global Network of Vocational Colleges to Train the World”

    For the Chinese and their partners, this sounds like a good development. China gets a base of qualified locals use to Chinese equipment & standards where they have their projects while the locals get solid training and an in to a better paying career which helps their own country. The US could match this with training programs of their own through the State Department but to be cynical about it, could Biden resist the temptation not to charge those students for that training and impose lifetime student debts and have that as leverage over them?

  36. Tom Stone

    I mentioned awhile back that my mechanic had not been able to source a new headlight switch for my ’98 Tacoma and that I ended up with a used one that cost more than the MSRP of a new one.
    Three days ago the connector for that switch went bad, evidenced by smoke coming out of the steering column.
    Happily I shut things down before things fully ignited ( Based on how the old connector looks, just in time).
    New connectors are not available at any price, however my mechanic worked at the largest local Toyota dealer for decades and called there to see if any of his buds had one sitting in a corner somewhere.
    Yup,one of them had an extra at home (!) and I now have working headlights.
    The old boys network came through again.

  37. VietnamVet

    If Europe is starting a Winter spike, the USA will not be far behind. This pretty much will hole the ship. It will be glaringly obvious that the mRNA “vaccines” at best mitigate serious illness for a while but have serious side effects too and do not stop transmission. The real problem is that the jabs can’t substitute for Public Health practices that over the centuries are proven to work. But the ruling neoliberal cult’s basic belief is that only money has value. A functional government and taxes for a working public health system that assures a healthy population (not exploiting it) is heresy. The virus will rip through the Western population and more than a million Americans will die until, if and when, humans and the virus finally mutate to coexist.

    Opening up the borders to the vaccinated assures that any new variants that arise in the vaccinated elsewhere will be transferred into the USA.

    A pointless vaccine mandate that fires essential workers is a perfect example of an autocratic decree that is so completely divorced from reality that it destroys the regime.

    A government by and for the people would have avoided the endless pandemic and logistic supply collapse. The restoration of the Republic is the only way out of the disaster.

  38. Jason Boxman

    A quest to save lost varieties of Apples;

    “Water wasn’t always safe to drink, and episodes of sickness from contaminated water gave that substance a questionable reputation,” says Kerrigan. Fermented beverages were the go-to alternative. Importing wine was expensive, and native pests killed Old World grapes. Apple orchards were easier to maintain and more utilitarian than growing fields of barley for beer, so cider became the colonists’ choice beverage. By the mid-1700s, virtually every East Coast farm and homestead had an apple orchard.

    I just eat my golden delicious, but I’m more of a berry person; I didn’t realize there were so many varieties.

    1. Late Introvert

      Johnny Appleseed was promoting cider, for the most part. An early public health intervention. So says Micheal Pollan.

      1. Lambert Strether

        > Johnny Appleseed was promoting cider, for the most part.

        Let’s not forget the real estate speculation:

        Later reinvented as the cartoonish “Johnny Appleseed,” John Chapman was a pioneer who made a huge impact on America’s frontier, particularly in Ohio. He started a chain of nurseries reaching from western Pennsylvania through central Ohio and into Indiana. With the canny shrewdness of a real estate developer, staying just ahead of the westward migration, Chapman planted nurseries near remote settlements. When he died in 1845, his estate included 22 properties totaling over 1,200 acres of prime waterfront real estate.

        To discourage speculation and encourage stability, land grant deeds in the Northwest Territory required homesteaders to plant apple and pear orchards. Grafted apple trees with edible fruit were already available in Ohio, but Chapman grew his from seed. Apples don’t sprout “true to type” from seed, so fruit from Chapman’s trees was mostly bitter, useful only for making hard cider, which could be distilled into applejack. Safer, tastier and much easier to make than wine or grain liquors, apple cider was the alcoholic drink of choice on the American frontier. In fact, there was little else to drink. In rural areas, cider replaced wine, beer, coffee, tea and even water.

        Young apple trees were essential supplies for any settler headed for the frontier, and John Chapman offered two- and three-year-old saplings for about six cents each. He had a sixth sense for where the next wave of development would be, and by the time the demand was there he had a well-located nursery in full production, run by a local manager.

        Of course, saving apple varieties is good! (Though I think Pollan would have plants playing a more active role in inducing their own propagation….)

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