Links 11/29/2021

Dancer, singer … spy: France’s Panthéon to honour Josephine Baker Guardian

An odd card trick Chalkdust

Guatemalan stowaway, 26, is found in landing gear of American Airlines flight at Miami airport – surviving two-and-a-half hour journey at 33,000ft and temperatures as low as -54F Daily Mail

Pilgrimages, conflicts and naked women: A Russian merchant’s impressions of 15th-century India Scroll

Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery Of Abiding Fame American Conservative

The Best History Books: The 2021 Wolfson Prize Shortlist Five Books

Hampstead’s heaven: 150 years of the Heath FT

Country diary: The underground secret by Hadrian’s Wall Guardian

The masterpieces stolen by the Nazis BBC

Surveillance, Companionship, and Entertainment: The Ancient History of Intelligent Machines MIT Press Reader

Hope ‘rabbit hotels’ can help Britain’s decimated population bounce back Guardian

Mel Brooks Writes It All Down New Yorker

Owlet Stops Selling Its Baby Monitoring Smart Socks After Receiving Warning Letter From FDA Gizmodo


Scientists rapidly identified the Omicron variant. But firm answers about its impact could take weeks Stat

Omicron Covid variant poses ‘very high’ global risk, says WHO Guardian

Omicron Is Coming. The U.S. Must Act Now. NYT. Zeynep Tufecki.

Biden to provide update Monday on US response to omicron variant The Hill


Canada detects two cases of Omicron variant, the first confirmed in North America Agence France-Presse

China study warns of ‘colossal’ Covid-19 outbreak if it adopts ‘open-up’ strategies like US, UK Times of India


Top-level meet advises caution on resuming international flights The Hindu

South Africa: Locals, tourists despair over travel bans Deutsche Welle

Covid: South Africa’s president calls for lifting of Omicron travel bans BBC

Omicron: Japan slams its doors on foreign entries Asia Times

Morocco suspends all incoming flights over Omicron Al Jazeera

Covid: Dutch police arrest quarantine hotel escapees BBC

Airlines Scramble to Navigate Fast-Degrading Travel Outlook Bloomberg


Opinion: Mandatory vaccinations won’t help now Deustche Welle

U.S. focuses on booster shots as best strategy against new variant WaPo

Swiss reject plan to abolish COVID health pass Deutsche Welle


Gov. Kathy Hochul orders halt on elective surgery amid COVID spike, Omicron NY Post


Why Moderna Won’t Share Rights to the COVID Vaccine With the Govt That Paid for It The Wire

Vaccine squabble tests global trade ties as WTO meeting postponed Politico

2.5 Million Nurses Demand UN Probe Into ‘Covid-19 Criminals’ Blocking Patent Waiver Common Dreams

Our Famously Free Press

Documents show Bill Gates has given $319 million to media outlets to promote his global agenda Gray Zone

COP26/Climate Change

Australia’s spy agency predicted the climate crisis 40 years ago – and fretted about coal exports Guardian

The Lesson Moby-Dick Has for a Warming World Counterpunch

Rare hunting scene raises questions over polar bear diet France 24

Waste Watch

Nurdles: the worst toxic waste you’ve probably never heard of Guardian

Biden Administration

JOHN KIRIAKOU: On Pardoning Turkeys Consortium News

End of a Narcostate? London Review of Books

Biden’s challenge, gamble and wish set the table for the 2022 elections WaPo

Biden Drilling Report Blasted as ‘Shocking Capitulation to the Needs of Corporate Polluters’ Common Dreams

The Supremes

Supreme Court set to take up all-or-nothing abortion fight AP

Last clinic standing: America’s abortion battle returns to the Supreme Court FT

Class Warfare

A Unionization Wave Is Reshaping Museums and Cultural Institutions Across the US Truthout

The Toll of NYCHA’s Lead Lies: A Brooklyn Girl Poisoned as Officials Covered Up Danger The City

Crime on L.A. trains, buses rises as riders return: ‘Poor people are suffering the most’ Yahoo Finance

Big Brother IS Watching You Watch

Biometrics, Smartphones, Surveillance Cameras Pose New Obstacles for U.S. Spies Wall Street Journal


Demonetisation, GST and lockdown: How the Modi government has wrecked India’s small businesses Scroll

The Indian Farmers’ Movement Has Shattered Narendra Modi’s Strongman Image Jacobin

Sikh Farmers, Diaspora Sad But Not Surprised to Learn of Fake Social Media Accounts Against Protests The Wire

Chittoor’s tomato farmers: at a thin red line People’s Archive of Rural India

The India Fix: Can the Trinamool become the new Congress? Scroll


Will China’s social distancing on world stage stand remote chance of success? South China Morning Post

As U.S. Hunts for Chinese Spies, University Scientists Warn of Backlash NYT

China’s Evolving Food Security Strategy The Diplomat

Craig Murray

Antidote du Jour (via):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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  1. zagonostra

    >The Lesson Moby-Dick Has for a Warming World – Counterpunch

    When I picked up “Moby-Dick” earlier this month, I almost immediately thought of the climate change negotiations in Glasgow – and Queequeg’s small island home.

    Using Moby Dick as a “Lesson” for climate change does not works in this article. I remember re-reading Moby Dick after listening to Bob Dylan read his acceptance speech for the Nobel Prize in literature a couple of years ago where he mentions it. I certainly was able to derive more from that novel on second reading than when I first read it in high school. It just seems to me that appropriating Melville’s novel for whatever seems to be animating you at the moment seems forced at best specious at worst.

    Since NC pointed me to CP and I figured I’d look over the recent articles. They continue to disappoint. I used to be a regular reader, but it seems they just serve yesterday’s warmed-up soup (like Dean Baker). I do like Vijay Prashad, who had an piece on the plight of Indian farmers.

    1. Pate

      I did appreciate Ishmael’s (Queequeg’s) understanding of our impending doom re nurdles: “It’s a mutual joint stock world in all meridians” or as someone else is wont to put it “because markets….” No bland deceits here at NC.

      1. chuck roast

        I’ll have to give it a try. I tried reading Moby Dick on two occasions and found my mind wandering off to sex, Twinkies, beer, art…I figured there was something wrong with me. In the recently discussed Albert and the Whale, W.H. Auden appears as a post war chronicler in Durer’s Germany. It seems that Auden couldn’t get into the book either. Nice to find myself in more acceptable company.

      2. NotThePilot

        I read Moby Dick outside of school on my own, and I loved it. I think I was expecting several hundred pages of Charles Dickens on a whaling ship. Instead it was a glorious hodge-podge of slapstick, nonfiction, prophetic literature, and everything in between.

        I skimmed the article, and while it’s interesting, I agree the author really whiffed if they wanted to apply it as a parable for climate change. They didn’t even mention the character who’s probably most essential to the moral arc of the story: Starbuck. I think it’s pretty much given from the beginning that Ahab is damned & he’ll take the whole crew with him if he can. The tension comes from Starbuck being probably the only person that can save the Pequod from Ahab, but like Hamlet, he hesitates (hmm, how does that remind me of the climate crisis?)

        I’ve only read a little other Melville, but Bartleby the Scrivener (the OG anti-work manifesto) is great, and another one that’s interesting is The Bell Tower (sort of Gothic sci-fi, like Frankenstein). I like to say the most surprising thing about really digging into American literature is that Melville is much weirder, Poe is much funnier, and Twain is much darker than you’d think from what you probably had to read in school.

    2. Angie Neer

      Coincidentally, I happen to have just finished reading Moby Dick for the first time. It has some interesting timeless aspects, and some not so timeless. For example, Melville presents what he considers an iron-clad explanation of how, even though we drove the American Bison nearly to extinction with mass hunting, the same could never happen with whales because they’re too hard to catch.

      1. amechania

        Historically, 1912 – 1918 and WWII were great years for whale populations, as we were busy killling each other.

    3. Robert Hahl

      “… yesterday’s warmed-up soup (like Dean Baker).” I have no clue where you are coming from. Dean Baker is as good as they get.

      1. zagonostra

        His idea for M4A was to lower the age by 1 year. If that’s as good as it gets, you can have good.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “Sherlock Holmes And The Mystery Of Abiding Fame”

    It certainly has left a mark on our culture as the Sherlock Holmes character was mostly about unrealized potential. These stories even featured in Star Trek. True story here. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was once in a port and a worker went up to him and said that he perceived that Doyle had recently been to India which surprised Doyle. The worker then said that he saw Doyle was also in Japan and China. Doyle, excited over this performance, exclaimed wonderful and how could he tell all this. The worker then pointed out the destination labels plastered over his luggage.

    The character of Sherlock Holmes was actually based on a real life person – that of Dr. Joseph Bell of Edinburgh – whom Doyle met as a medical student. He did the same sort of things that Sherlock Holmes did and Bell was always trying to impress on his students the importance of observation. One time in class, Bell showed them a vial of urine on a desk. He then dipped his finger in it and put his finger in his mouth and then insisted that each one of his students do the same. When they were all finished, he asked them what they had observed. Students were saying that the urine was pale or that it tasted salty and other medial observations. No, said Bell. He said that if they were really observing, they would have seen that he dipped his index finger in the urine but put his middle finger in his mouth instead. I bet that that was one lesson those students did not forget-

  3. JCC

    I have to thank Bill Gates for inadvertently saving my financial well-being after I recognized his growing insane greed back in 1997 when Windows 98 was released. It was at that time that Linux, still a little raw, became easily available to the general public. Even though there was a relatively steep learning curve at the time, my brand new intel based computer system never crashed after dumping the, expensive at the time, poorly executed Windows 98 operating system.

    After becoming relatively proficient with various Linux distributions I was able to switch careers and obtain relatively well paid Linux IT jobs in the commercial world. Recognition of Microsoft’s complicated, expensive junk saved my bacon. So, for that anyway, Thank You, Mr. Gates.

    1. JTMcPhee

      And here I thought you were going to say you bought a bunch of pre-split-split -split MSFT stock, way back when… Silly me.

    2. Robert Hahl

      Windows 9x was so unstable it inspired a poem I still remember:

      I am the Blue Screen of Death
      Windows has crashed
      No one hears your screams

      1. Adam Eran

        How many Microsoft engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
        Answer: None. They just change the standard to darkness.

    1. Darius

      Doesn’t do Jack if you’re in a crowded poorly ventilated place. COVID is airborne like cigarette smoke.

      1. Randall Flagg

        You beat me to it Rev Kev. we called them cattle prods too. But then again, aren’t we being treated like that in some ways? Get the shot, obtain herd immunity and all that?

    2. Dr. John Carpenter

      Seems like an invitation for some deplorable to unload a few rounds of “self-defense” into the zapper operator.

      1. flora

        The Warning in the description includes: ” not for use by adults with underlying medical conditions.”

        Gotta wonder how zappers will know which adults/kids they aim to zap have underlying medical conditions and which don’t have underlying medical conditions.

        1. Basil Pesto

          I think you’re taking the listing a bit too literally, it looks like a novelty item that’ll be used in brother vs. sister warfare for about a week after Christmas and then never used again.

          1. flora

            Not sure it’s as mentally harmless as that. What does it teach people is OK behavior? Looks sort of like a soft mini Milgram Experiment for the mob, imo. /;)

            As for siblings, brothers have know for decades how to scuff their socks on the carpet in winter to build up a static charge and then hop in the air while touching a sister or brothers ear. Quite a sharp static discharge happens. Ouch! shorter, sibling fights don’t need this do-dad.

  4. Questa Nota

    Yves/Lambert, Jerri-Lynn,
    Re COVID, have you had an opportunity to review the RFK, Jr. book? Readers may be interested in your observations.

    1. Pat

      Not from our moderators so much, but there was a large discussion of the book in the comments to yesterday’s links.

        1. flora

          Thanks. I’ve never read anything by this author. I have a copy on back order. Supporting my local bookshop.

  5. Wukchumni

    Its the most contagious time of the year
    With kids mingling and adults standing 6 feet clear
    Its the most contagious time of the year

    Its the hap-happiest season of all
    With those holiday greetings
    And masked meetings when friends come to call
    Its the hap-happiest season of all

    There’ll be parties for toasting
    Omicron for hosting
    And carrying bodies out in the snow
    There be scary ghost stories and tales of pandemics
    Long long ago

    Its the most contagious time of the year
    There be much unknowing
    And fears will be growing
    When loved ones are near
    Its the most contagious time of the year

    There be parties for toasting
    Omicron for hosting
    And carrying bodies out in the snow
    There be scary ghost stories
    And tales of pandemics long long ago

    Its the most contagious time of the year
    There be much unknowing
    And fears will be growing
    When loved ones are near

    Its the most contagious time
    Yes the most contagious time
    Its the most contagious time of he year

    1. ex-PFC Chuck

      I don’t know what your career is or was but the world lost out when you didn’t become a Broadway lyricist. But then we might have missed out on your informative comments on the California fires. Thanks!

      1. Wukchumni

        I’d never consider doing stand-up, stage fright and all that.

        Being a sit-down comedian suits me though…

  6. The Rev Kev

    “The masterpieces stolen by the Nazis”

    You know what would make a great museum? A Museum of Lost Works, that’s what. So you would step inside and find the walls filled with accurate reproductions of all those paintings that were destroyed during WW2. There would be photographs and copies enough so that you could successfully do this. And as people wandered the halls they would see what once was that is now gone forever through war and get a real idea of the loss of works.

    1. Wukchumni

      My grandfather was a smarty and thought he could out-think the Nazi party by placing all his wealth in an English bank on Wenceslas Square in late 1938, but when the stormtroopers barged in without knocking, the English & French banks in Prague appeased them by having an all-you-can-steal buffet of their assets, in grandpa’s case, £15,000. (about $4 million in constant gold value currently, that amount being equal to 7,500 Sovereigns @ the time)

      My father tried in vain to get the bank in the UK to pay up after the war, but no dice.

      What grandfather should’ve done in retrospect was to buy a name brand painting with his savings, which would’ve given his family a chance to recoup his losses after the war.

      £15,000 would’ve bought most anything @ the time, a few Rembrandts or half a dozen French impressionist paintings.

      1. Mildred Montana

        Interesting story. Thank you.

        My thinking (and my reading of history) tells me that if tumultuous times come again I should invest my meager savings in cigarettes. Compact packages, light, inflation-proof, and always in demand.

        And as your story makes clear, it is not a good idea to trust banks. If and when the crunch comes (as history shows), they will slam the door in your face.

        1. Wukchumni

          My dad told me that during the war, cigarettes were ‘the’ currency, but then again everybody smoked like chimneys back then compared to now.

          I keep a small amount of my meager savings in the ultimate precious metal, aluminum foil.

          Before bauxite alchemy came along, aluminum was among the rarest of all elements in metal form, and forget about making your own, not gonna happen.

          It’s incredibly useful for cooking and can be reused many times…

          A 200 foot roll of the precious will set you back a measly sawbuck…

          1. Mildred Montana

            “It’s incredibly useful for cooking…”

            Yeah, I’ve seen people in my city “cooking” with small pieces of aluminum in doorways. ;)

            Good luck with your aluminum investment. If you ever want to hedge it, I’ve got some cigarettes for sale or trade.

            1. The Rev Kev

              Salt might make a real good investment, especially if you lived inland and away from ready sources. Salt is up there with things like water that people have to have.

        2. wild west

          Famous quote from the movie Inside Man – “When there’s blood in the streets, buy property.”

          1. Wukchumni

            We had a number of family properties in Prague, and the way it worked was the Nazis stole your money and the Soviets stole your land-leaving us in limbo status for over 40 years, and then Communism went away and our relatives sold said real estate for a pittance, and I really can’t blame them, as it was worth precisely nothing only a short time before, and $5,000 seemed like all the money in the world to them.

    2. Polar Socialist

      I really like this idea. It could even be done virtually, which would be much better use for that tech than some weird Metaverse escapist mockery of actual social contacts.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        I too really like Rev Kev’s idea, whether executed as a traveling exhibition and as a virtual exhibition. But some works possess compelling impact in the colors and paint strokes of their original. I have always liked Gauguin, but seeing his paintings in their original breath and colors deeply impressed their beauty upon me in a way no virtual display I have ever experienced could.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      You could do what the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum did after several works were stolen – leave a blank frame on the wall.

      If anybody could use a little extra for the holiday shopping, there is still a $10 million reward for info leading to the return of the artwork. I’m amazed that nobody has spilled the beans yet – 30 years on and still no takers.

  7. Otis B Driftwood

    I was at a two day craft fair this weekend. On Saturday, good attendance. Same day Omicron news got headlines. Sunday, attendance dropped significantly despite a strictly enforced vax and mask policy.

    Anecdotal, of course, but it did hurt Christmas for many vendors.

    1. Jeremy Grimm

      I would count your story as a happy story for the holidays. There is no Christmas joy in sickness and death.

    2. Lena

      No one I’ve spoken to in the last several days is even aware that a new variant exists, much less what it’s called. They have been celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday like it’s 1999. Vaxxed and boostered, they believe they are perfectly safe. These are well educated upper middle class people. Incredible how removed from reality they are. (I’m in the Midwestern US.)

  8. Ghost in the Machine

    So the WHO says Omicron is a “very high risk” but also that it is not advisable to shutdown air travel. What a pathetic joke. We should wait until we absolutely know for sure it is more infectious/virulent etc. and it is spread everywhere before shutting down? Disband this useless organization. Oh wait, it has some use for corporatists like gates in keeping vaccines in private hands and grotesquely profitable.

    1. jr

      I did a brief survey of the news this morning. The South African doctor of who complained about being taken out of context was mentioned a few times. Zero context. Lots of assurances that the US economy won’t shut down. Vaccines and boosters are the answer.

      I spent the holiday with family, breaking all the rules. I am probably going to die of mouthwash poisoning. I am also using a nose spray I made that I found on this site:

    2. FreeMarketApologist

      Interesting to see that Japan wasted no time in shutting their borders. It’s exactly the right move, as it’s clear that the virus is spread by human travel. Remove the vector of transmission, stop the spread. If other countries were as decisive, omicron could be well contained.

    3. Procopius

      That’s one of the things that has really griped me since 9/11. The proliferation of stories like this, where they don’t know anything about the variant, but we’re supposed to immediately panic. They don’t know how transmissible it is, they don’t know if it produces severe symptoms, they don’t know what it’s fatality rate is, they don’t know if the vaccines protect from it, but it’s “very high risk.” Lots of noise and no signal.

    1. lance ringquist

      one of the problems i have with pieces like that is, the author does not understand what governance is.

      the author is stunned that markets are not self regulating, self policing, self righting and all of that complete economic nonsense that came out of the nafta billy clinton regime.

      the jack types were littered all through out the new deal era, which i peg from 1933-1993. and were under democratic control which made it hard for that type to prosper. from the 1970’s on wards till 1993, they did rise up a bit, and did much damage, but were still under some control.

      but the real damage they did is when they got their freedom from governance, that is democratic control, our government, the year was 1993.

      when trump responded to nafta hillary when she said you make your stuff in china, trumps response was “you let us”.

      the look on the nafta democrats face was priceless, she was enraged, as all libertarians are when you mention that business is free to do as they please without democratic control.

      trump exposed her for what she is, a closet libertarian.

      till america understands what democratic control and governance is, we will see the author of that article whine as the jack types strip america of everything, then walk away from the burning hulks declaring victory of the markets.

      the piece the other day from american affiars was priceless, markets are a race to the bottom is basically what they said,

      i never got a chance to applaud that article, i am now.

      till we reverse nafta billy clintons disastrous polices, boeing will be the norm till there is nothing left at all.

      1. Mildred Montana

        “the author is stunned that markets are not self regulating, self policing, self righting and all of that complete economic nonsense that came out of the nafta billy clinton regime.”

        Clive Irving (writer of this piece), meet Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve sage (sic) for twenty years. You both have something in common. He too was similarly mystified that markets don’t self-regulate.

        “…almost three years after stepping down as chairman of the Federal Reserve, a humbled Mr. Greenspan admitted that he had put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets…”

        In happier times, government was a countervailing force (as John Kenneth Galbraith would have put it) against corporate excess. No longer. Government is now the enabler, with generous loans and bailouts to companies like Boeing which spend all their spare cash on stock buy-backs so that executives can get rich, knowing full well that if trouble hits, Uncle Sam can be relied upon to rifle the pockets and purses of taxpayers.

        In happier times, Boeing would have been nationalized and its executives sacked. If self-correction didn’t work, then a corrective spanking by the government would. But as you point out, corporate misbehavior these days isn’t punished, it is rewarded, almost encouraged. And that’s not the ideal Galbraithian government, that’s corporatocracy.

        1. lance ringquist

          FDR and truman threw a lot of them in jail, its where they belong. the people who ran iceland into the ground still think that what they did was not wrong, but right.

          till americans understand democratic control and governance, and that all of nafta billy clintons disastrous polices were complete economic nonsense, we will sink ever further.

          nafta billy unleashed the greenspans onto us, even reagan figured out what greenspan was. to little to late though.

          nafta democrats keep pointing out its reaganism, yet they out reaganed, reagan.

          for the author to keep trying to paint this as corporate corruption a market failure and incompatence, is to give the free traders who run the government a free ride that they are unable to govern.

          hillary and other nafta democrats are still baffled that the deplorable simply cannot fathom their astounding accomplishment.

          what the nafta democrats can’t fathom is that we know what they have accomplished, we live it every day.

      2. ex-PFC Chuck

        Don’t forget Obama’s “contribution.” He, who puffs up his chest when thinking of his legacy, doesn’t grok that a decade or two, or five, down the road he will be remembered most for what he didn’t do when he walked into the oval office the first time as president. Instead of investigating the white collar crime wave that led to the meltdown that may well prove to be the beginning of the USA’s final decline and prosecuting the perps, he threw sand in the gears of every attempt by others to do so. That will be his legacy in the history books, regardless of the puffery filling the mausoleum defiling a Chicago park.

        1. lance ringquist

          agreed. i used to call nafta billy and empty suit hollowman obama, “A TAG TEAM”.

          obama prevented a new deal, then he bailed out nafta billy clintons disastrous polices, then doubled down on them.

          here is another absolutely ridiculous article, whom the author even admits free trade is only for billionaires, then thinks it can be reformed.

          a complete lack of understanding democratic control and governance.

          the author argues that the rich are hiding behind the W.T.O., nope, nafta billy clinton clearly said there will be no democratic control, the author acts surprised!

          the author is delusional that fascists markets can reformed, and argues the best out come would be to reform the W.T.O..

          but the W.T.O. was created to by pass democratic control. is run by corporations who have created the W.T.O. for the reason to neutralize democratic control.

          another one who has no idea what we are up against.

          1. lance ringquist

            i think so. and many came out of nafta billy clintons disastrous regime. which was wall street in disguise.

        2. Procopius

          ex-PFC: His words are seared into my memory for all time. When asked why he didn’t direct his Attorney General to investigate the banksters he explained that it was very hard, and, “A lot of what they did wasn’t illegal.” [emphasis added] I’ve wondered ever since if he knew he was saying that, yes, they committed crimes, too. I must say I have been very pleased with many of Biden’t domestic appointments, but they won’t have enough time to make a dent in the laissez faire culture in the regulatory agencies (most especially the bank regulators).

  9. The Rev Kev

    “Mel Brooks Writes It All Down”

    I can only imagine the sort of stories that Mel Brooks could tell. But I would bet that they would be hilarious. I can’t see a modern day Mel Brooks as they would be deemed ‘inappropriate’ and would be cancelled by people who know what is good for us. Mel Brooks himself laments this decline of acceptable comedy and he has a point. Can anybody imagine them trying to remake “Blazing Saddles” at all? Especially this scene? (4:06 min)

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      Brooks knew he needed Richard Pryor’s name in the credits to deflect from criticism. Pryor would have starred if he was deemed more reliable. As Brooks knew this, he made sure Pryor was in the writing process. Brooks’ modern concerns are bs as they were his concerns when he made the movie. I’m not sure what Brooks is even talking about. Nothing else he did could be seen as problematic. It would be a different movie with Pryor. Cleavon Little was perfect for that role. You would have to get a great straight man with perfect comic timing and leading man looks.

      My gut is Brooks just hangs out with too many comedians who come to him for advice/praise tne great man (he is the king) and gripe about how hard it is. He’s not stepping back. He and Rob Reiner don’t have problems. No one has canceled Steve Martin.

      Curb Your Enthusiasm gets made after all. The show even has a black Kramer and had him meet Kramer.

      The biggest obstacle is the lack of Westerns. It just wouldn’t work.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Dick Van Dyke made a point about standards and comedy, obviously he didn’t have standards given his stage name, but his view was the funny people were funny and the unfunny people weren’t using crassness as a crutch. He assured the interviewer the best manhood joke he’s ever heard came from Lucille Ball. Van Dyke said the ideal slot for a funny person is basic cable after 930. There is freedom but enough discipline to avoid going to film and realizing they only wrote the same crass joke a thousand different times.

        Brooks is just too nice to realize he’s the king, probably emphasizing with struggling comedians and guys past their prime. The Simpsons were on top of the world and had Ann Bancroft as a guest voice. When they went to collect her from the waiting area, they described seeing him. They had his wife on the show and could take conceive of asking for Brooks when the show had Carson, Michael Jackson, Liz Taylor, and three Beatles. Mel probably gets his a kissed way too much by has beens and ignores his own efforts.

      2. Basil Pesto

        Curb Your Enthusiasm gets made after all. The show even has a black Kramer and had him meet Kramer.

        Speaking of, there’s a very funny, relatively subtle satire in the first few episodes this season about the board composition of Netflix and Hulu.

        Recent episode “The Watermelon” makes my all time top 10 I think

    2. chuck roast

      “If you can reduce the enemy to an object of ridicule and laughter, you’ve won.”


      …that’s what Trump does!

      I really do miss that rascal. He is such a chuckle. He really is beyond parody. SNL skits are lame, lame and lame. Maybe the only way to parody him is do a combo of The Erudite Professor and Professor Erwin Cory The World’s Foremost Authority. Now that would be funny.

  10. Wukchumni

    Nations are not ruined by one act of violence, but gradually and in an almost imperceptible manner by the depreciation of their circulating currency, through its excessive quantity.


    1. jimmy cc

      the question is of course did the debasement of the currency cause an economic downturn or was it a symptom of it.

      Russia opened many a port in the 1500 and 1600s. Trade shifted away from western blatoc ports to ports farther east.

      1. Wukchumni

        What is commonly termed ‘Gresham’s Law’ really ought to be Copernicus’s Law, as he came up with the idea first.

        1. jimmy cc


          although Mariana and Azppilcueta were also leading advocates for the sound money principle at around the same time.

          The School of Salamanca was the beginning of Economics imho

    1. Pate

      When I see these kind of stories – and there seem to be lots of them these days – my cynical self attributes them to idpol faux-wokeism especially in the wake of trump. My conclusion is that chickens coming home to roost must be good for markets. While I appreciate the effort by our overlords to have us embracing the better angels of our nature regards race etc. I’d much rather they share some of their pie with the masses.

  11. farragut

    What happens when you combine “West Wing brain” & “The problem with Kamala?”

    The idea of a Supreme Court nomination for Ms Harris was first reported by CNN which, while calling it an “Aaron Sorkin-style rumour” – a reference to the creator of The West Wing – said the “chatter has already reached top levels of the Biden orbit”.

  12. jsn

    Moby Dick:
    “The key to addressing climate change won’t be some abstract injunction to save the planet; it will be about acknowledging interdependence and commonality and accepting responsibility. It will be about returning Queequeg’s favor.”


    It seems to me the lesson is to mutiny against Ahab ASAP before he takes the world down with him. (Ahab: financial capitalism)

  13. TimH

    On Owlet smart socks: “Notably, the FDA said it had been telling Owlet that its products were medical devices and not low-risk products that promote a healthy lifestyle since 2016.”

    So WTF did FDA not do anything 5 years ago?

      1. Wukchumni

        Ever notice the word Supreme is pretty much only used to describe toppings on a pizza, or a justice sentenced to life with possibility of parole, although few opt for it?

      2. flora

        I don’t think she has the brains to carry it off. The wink and shimmy is a skill set for other arenas. / ;)

    1. lyman alpha blob

      That’s what passes for a neoclassical chateau?!? I would have expected a little more (or any) masonry, maybe a turret or two. Something more substantial. That thing looks like you could put your foot through the stucco. But Bellevue since the birth of Microsoft has always been the home of the gauche new money. Typical “bridgers”, although they seem to have taken over Seattle now too.

      1. Mildred Montana

        From the article: “Château de Chêne—“chene” is the French word for oak and refers to the solitary tree of that species in the center of the property that the couple had the house built around so as not to uproot it—is sited on a private peninsula.”

        Gawd, I love the pretensions of the ultra-rich. I’ve never lived in a house that had a name, nor I presume have most of us. For me, it was always 65497 – 72nd Avenue or some such.

        Also from the article: “The oak tree, by the way, is still thriving. “It faces the water, and now there’s a rope swing for the grandchildren,” Ms. Barnet said.”

        Finally, the common touch. See, the rich are just like the rest of us.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Didn’t notice the emphasis on the oak before, but now that I look at the pictures again, that oak looks pretty close to the front of the building and the front steps. I’d expect some major cracks from the roots before too long if the house is as insubstantial as it looks.

          The rich often appear to be far stupider than the rest of us, having no practical knowledge.

        2. ex-PFC Chuck

          When F. Scott Fitzgerald remarked to his friends around the table in the Paris bar, “The rich are different from you and me,” Ernest Hemingway replied, “Yes. They have more money.”

      2. JBird4049

        23.75 million for that “chateau” that is not quite a candidate for the blog McMansion Hell as there is some taste..

        It is not the money, but that it is an overpriced marshmallow that some upper, upper middle or lower, upper class couple would (did?) have built. They took a modern track house, blew it up to 8100 sq ft, and said done!

        They should have spent a year studying architecture, while hiring a good architect to design and build a building half its size with sold materials. Something like an arts and crafts style might have been better, or even prairie style.

        Although, the landscaping looks good especially compared to some other awful gardens I have seen; maybe that is why I like it because it is does look like someone’s cut and paste idea of a mini manor’s landscape.

        Now, I am getting unhappy. I don’t think I have that good a taste for style, but come on. For 23.75 million dollars, I could have a very fine house even with California’s prices, but built to last even with the earthquakes we have. I should not be unhappy, because I am living in a decent apartment unlike too many others.

  14. Wukchumni

    Collapses in the past were stand alone events largely, when the Mayan civilization fell apart was anybody in Europe effected, or when the Roman Empire had it’s swan song did China suffer?

    This one is all interconnected with only the poorest of 3rd World types not playing along, for they couldn’t afford it.

    That’s who inherits the earth, some meek South Pacific islander far from the shipping lanes…

  15. Martin Oline

    Thank you for a wonderful start to my day. From Coventina’s Well to five new history books for this winter and even a card trick for the grandchildren. The review of Black Spartacus: The Epic Life of Toussaint L’Ouverture made me get busy and order the three-part Haitian Revolution series by Madison Smartt Bell.

  16. Wukchumni

    Oroville declared itself a constitutional republic. A place where the local leaders pledge to fight mandates they say go too far.

    30 miles from Oroville is Rough and Ready, Ca. which briefly seceded from the union in 1850, so there is precedence…

    The town declared its secession from the Union as The Great Republic of Rough and Ready on 7 April 1850, largely to avoid mining taxes, but voted to rejoin the Union less than three months later on 4 July.,_California

  17. Wukchumni

    Hope ‘rabbit hotels’ can help Britain’s decimated population bounce back Guardian
    I was hoping this was in regards to the populace of merry olde including perhaps Prince Andrew, but it turned out to be about rabbits.

  18. Glossolalia

    The coordinated panic about omicron doesn’t seem organic. Maybe all the other variants discovered in the past few months that were also supposed to be more transmissible and evade vaccines didn’t drive down the markets sufficiently for congress to pick up some more cheap stock?

    1. Yves Smith

      HUH?!?! See our post today.

      The concerted effort to underplay the ginormous contagiousness and almost certain vaccine evasion of Omicron is what is not organic. Panic meters should be at 11 and they aren’t.

    2. Basil Pesto

      that were also supposed to be more transmissible

      Such as? I don’t recall anyone of substance claiming this about past post-Delta variants

      Furthermore, the point of drawing attention to the likes of Mu and surveilling variants in general was not to cry wolf, it was to make people understand that something like what is happening now was highly likely, if not inevitable.

  19. ACPAL

    “Supreme Court set to take up all-or-nothing abortion fight”

    In Roe v Wade the SCOTUS deemed abortions’ legal under the US Constitution. More recently they deemed that the second amendment was a civil right. One of these is favored by the Right while the other by the Left. Currently the US is being torn apart by a list of issues too long to write here.
    But one issue is the declining trust in the SCOTUS, which is becoming more political regardless of how much they deny it.

    It is traditional that the SCOTUS avoid changing past decisions, something that gives the populace a feeling of continuity. As the SCOTUS allows states to severely restrict abortions and gun ownership they appear to be backing down on earlier decisions, possibly getting ready to “change the law of the land.” We know we can’t trust the Executive and Legislative branches of the government leaving only the Judicial branch as the anchor of what is the USA.

    If the SCOTUS shows that even they are no longer consistent with previous decisions then this could be the tipping point that leads us to another civil war. Many people, who already are fed up with our form of government, will see the constitution as worth no more than the paper it’s written on.

    1. Adam Eran

      Best commentary on SCOTUS I’ve read: Sarah Chayes’ Corruption book which begins with an account of the Virginia governor convicted of accepting bribes by the superior and appeals courts ($75,000 shopping sprees, free airplane rides, etc.). SCOTUS unanimously overturned the decision, saying this is how we do political business now. [palm slaps forehead]

      1. allan

        I would also recommend Injustices: The Supreme Court’s History of Comforting the Comfortable
        and Afflicting the Afflicted
        by Ian Millhiser. SCOTUS has been bad for much of America’s history.

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