Links 12/1/2021

Our Friend, the Couch Panther An Englishman in Texas (Tam L). Please read.

Otter-ly Adorable Climate Change Warriors May Save California’s Coastal Ecosystems Atlas Obscura (Chuck L)

Whee! Animals Have Fun and Act Silly in Award-Winning Photos TreeHugger (furzy)

Molecular analysis reveals the oldest Denisovan fossils yet Phys.org (Kevin W)

Redo of a Famous Experiment on the Origins of Life Reveals Critical Detail Missed for Decades Scientific American (Robert M)

Self-Driving Microscopes to Navigate the Nanoscale SpectrumIEEE (David L)

Study suggests Sun is likely an unaccounted source of the Earth’s water Curtin University (Robert M)

Rain to replace snow in the Arctic as climate heats, study finds Guardian. Resilc: “This all going teats up quick.”

This Map Shows the Pacific Northwest’s Nightmare November Rain Totals Gizmodo (David L)

How Plastic Shoes are Recycled to Make New Shoes YouTube (resilc)

Slaughterbots – if human: kill() YouTube (David L)

A Cure for Type 1 Diabetes? For One Man, It Seems to Have Worked New York Times (Chuck L)

To Be Energy-Efficient, Brains Predict Their Perceptions Quanta (Robert M)

How we became weekly aeon

#COVID-19

WHO recommends over-60s ‘postpone travel’ due to Omicron fears as CDC director says US is increasing COVID testing at four US airports in effort to stop spread Daily Mail

Israel to host Miss Universe contest despite Omicron Reuters (resilc)

How Brampton went from a COVID-19 hotspot to one of Canada’s most vaccinated communities CBC (Brian M)

Science/Medicine

Please read entire thread:

GM adds:

This is about how molnupiravir will create variants by accelerating viral evolution while not killing the virus.

Curiously, Gauteng was one of the places where they trialed it. That does not change the fact that the branch is very long and dates back to 2020. So if this was indeed a chronic infection, it probably started there. But what if this was an HIV patient that someone tried to cure with the drug and that gave it the final mutagenic boost? We will never know…

And yet the FDA approved it despite quiet vigorous objection by many on the panel pointing to precisely these issues

We are doing our absolute best to help the virus…

COVID-19 Omicron variant was in Netherlands nearly two weeks ago, says nation’s public health department ABC Australia (Kevin W). However, as GM pointed out:

What I said what that this is a B.1.1.X virus, and there has been no B.1.1 in a very long time; the closest sequence to this is from June 2020.

So most likely the chronic infection started more than a year ago.

Then sometime in August-September this year it hit the jackpot with the right additional mutations, from there it spread to other people, and it has since then been spreading very fast in South Africa starting in early October

In other words, finding it in other countries earlier than the first RSA sighting does not disprove Omnicron having originated in RSA, particularly given the early inferred timeline and the earlier B.1.1 sequencing.

Omicron Reaches Nations From U.K. to Brazil in Widening Spread Bloomberg

Note the date (guurst):

We reported a very long time ago, maybe a year if not longer, based on a study of UK REACT data (bloodwork on ~100,000 UK patients every 5 weeks or so) that elementary school kids were 2X as likely as adults to bring Covid into a household, and older children, 7x. But no one want to deal with the implications of kids being disease vectors.

More in the “As we said” category (see rest of thread);

UK/Europe

Boris Johnson contradicts expert advice to curb Christmas socialising Guardian (Kevin W)

How 2 Flights to Europe May Have Spurred Spread of New Variant New York Times (David L). Um, we reported this last Friday….

US

Biden’s message to Wall Street: Mass death will not interfere with corporate profits WSWS

FDA advisers narrowly endorse Merck’s Covid-19 drug Politico (Kevin C). As I run the math, it has only 35% efficacy (original 50% reduced by 30%). Charming.

Kentucky v. Biden 11/30/2021 Order. Grants preliminary injunction v. the vaccine mandate for Federal contractors in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee.

White House COVID-19 Response Team Briefing – 11/30/21 C-SPAN (Kevin C)

Finance/Economy

Bali Was Slammed With Tourists Before Covid. Now It’s Slammed Without. Wall Street Journal

China?

O-RAN still not a challenge for Huawei or Ericsson Asia Times (Kevin W)

As U.S. Hunts for Chinese Spies, University Scientists Warn of Backlash New York Times (David L)

Who Are Kashmir’s ‘Hybrid Militants’? The Diplomat (resilc)

New Cold War

Putin lays down ‘red line,’ threatens retaliation if missiles placed in Ukraine New York Post (Kevin W)

Space Force Has a Plan for Training Its Troops. Now It Must Figure Out What They Need to Learn NextGov (Kevin W)

Syraqistan

Israeli settlers are establishing farms to push Palestinians off their land Mondoweiss (guurst)

Human Rights Groups Call on Pentagon to Reinvestigate Civilian Deaths in Yemen Intercept

Imperial Collapse Watch

Pentagon: U.S. military footprint staying right where it is Responsible Statecraft (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

New law allows for warrantless spying on Australians – where next? RT (guurst)

1/6

Capitol riot: Michael Jackson imitator clashes with judge in court BBC

Biden

Biden’s Imaginary Leftism Is Not Why The Media Hates Him CounterPunch

‘He’s to the left of Lenin’: Republicans fear Cordray at Fed would further ‘Biden’s federal takeover’ of U.S. banking system MarketWatch. Help me. Conservative Big Lie, as anyone in Ohio during the foreclosure crisis will affirm.

Cuomogate

Cuomo report spotlights role of top aide Melissa DeRosa in trying to contain sexual harassment crisis Washington Post (bob)

Police State Watch

“Y’all going to kill me?” Years apart, mother and son die in police restraints. The Marshall Project (resilc)

Woke Watch

No one seems to like the Lincoln Project anymore Politico. UserFriendly: “That’s a damn shame.”

Gunz

‘Sheriff’s office, safe to come out’: Moment Michigan school shooter, 15, tried to lure screaming students out of locked classroom after killing three and wounding eight, including teacher mom-of six who is now on ventilator Daily Mail

Pregnant Florida library worker killed after pulling gun on biker she intentionally hit with car Fox

Our Famously Free Press

CNN suspends Chris Cuomo indefinitely CNN (Bob H). Kevin W: “CNN is throwing Fredo to the wolves to save itself.”

The Bezzle

The Token Disconnect Stephen Diehl. UserFriendly; “lol this is good.”

When Multilevel Marketing Met Gen Z Atlantic (furzy)

OPEC+ Under Pressure As Oil Prices Plunge Again OilPrice

Elon Musk to SpaceX: Starship’s Raptor engine crisis risks bankruptcy CNBC. Resilc: “Tesla is a big con.”

Users revolt as Microsoft bolts a short-term financing app onto Edge ars technica (Kevin W)

Hawkish Powell Is a Force Markets Haven’t Faced in Three Years Bloomberg

Class Warfare

Ancient robots were objects of fantasy and fun Popular Science (resilc)

AI Is Learning to Manipulate Us, and We Don’t Know Exactly How Discover Magazine (David L)

Antidote du jour. I feel very guilty that I somehow missed this antidote, sent by reader Kenneth M a long time ago. I hope he is still reading and sees this:

For the ‘Dearly beloved but recently departed pets’ series, I offer Lady Jayne. She was a rescued border collie/Australian shepherd mix who reveled in life at the fullest extent of her leash, and never met a squirrel or other varmint she wouldn’t chase. A week ago that’s what did her in, when a squirrel [evil tree rats!] ran into the street to lure her in front of an oncoming pickup and she instinctively bolted after it. I can’t help but sadly harken back to the line in Bladerunner: “The light that burns twice as bright burns but half as long – and you burned so very, very brightly, Jayne.” Requiescat in pace

And a bonus (guurst):

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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176 comments

  1. zagonostra

    >Greece will mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for anyone over 60, or make them pay fines – NPR

    Basically, the meager pension that a retirees receive will be heavily reduced if they don’t agree to the State’s mandatory injection/treatment for CV19. No problem if you have financial means to slough off penalty, but those without funds will be placed into an impossible situation. So either by the force of a gun or withholding your food/shelter, you’re going to be forced to do as your gov’t dictates.

    Greece announced Tuesday that everyone 60 and older must be vaccinated by mid-January or face monthly fines of 100 euros (roughly $114).

    Earlier this month, Austria said it would require its entire adult population to be vaccinated by Feb. 1. Those who refuse are set to pay up to 3,600 euros, or just over $4,000, in fines.

    https://www.npr.org/2021/11/30/1060175635/greece-covid-vaccine-mandate

    1. zagonostra

      >EU chief: Time to ‘think about mandatory vaccination’

      Well, as I make my way down the news line, I could have predicted hitting this one…

      Speaking at a news conference, the European Commission chief suggested that member states should move towards compulsory vaccination to help prevent the spread of cases and a further spike in infections due to the emergence of new variants, such as the Omicron strain.

      https://www.rt.com/news/541861-eu-chief-think-mandatory-vaccination/

      1. ambrit

        What is so hilariously appropriate about this development is that it closely mirrors the Olde Line Conspiracy Theories about “The Elites” making everyone ‘chipped’ and or otherwise “herded” into control groups.
        ‘Number of the Beast’ anyone?
        You cannot make this stuff up, or can you?

      2. lordkoos

        From what I gather there are no current vaccines that protect from Delta and Omicron. WTF is the point in that case?

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Please no hyperbole. That is a form of Making Shit Up and makes you and the site look bad.

          The current vaccines most assuredly do protect against severe outcomes from Delta. Where they fail is doing much about transmission.

          Re Omicron, we’ve said that experts believe the current vaccines will be not or not very effective v. Omicron, which was confirmed by Moderna’s CEO, but we won’t know for sure for another week or two until more work is done. However, confirming this concern, is that there have already been quite a few reported Omicron cases, such as the first three in Israel and among all 13 infected members of a soccer team in Portugal, who were fully vaccinated. However, not known if they were recently boosted.

  2. zagonostra

    >Kentucky v. Biden

    At least for these three States, this temporary measure is good news to my ears (a subheading under the #COVID-19 rubric for non-medical related topics would be helpful, e.g., legal cases pending, State vs Fed issues, ethical issues, vaccine passports, etc…)

    [From the concluding paragraph of this case]

    Once again, the Court is asked to wrestle with important constitutional values implicated
    in the midst of a pandemic that lingers. These questions will not be finally resolved in the
    shadows. Instead, the consideration will continue with the benefit of full briefing and appellate
    review. But right now, the enforcement of the contract provisions in this case must be paused.
    Accordingly, and the Court being sufficiently advised and for the reasons set forth herein, it
    is hereby ORDERED as follows:

    1. Plaintiffs’ motion for a preliminary injunction [R. 12] is GRANTED;
    2. The Government is ENJOINED from enforcing the vaccine mandate for federal
    contractors and subcontractors in all covered contracts in Kentucky, Ohio, and
    Tennessee.
    This the 30th day of November, 2021.

    Case: 3:21-cv-00055-GFVT Doc #: 50 Filed: 11/30/21 Page: 29 of 29 – Page ID#: 900

    1. Carolinian

      It has been reported that Biden wanted a vaccine mandate even last fall but said that it would be unconstitutional. So it’s quite likely that they’ve known all along it would be struck down by the courts but thought they could fake businesses into complying before that happened.

      Isn’t the president’s first and most compelling oath to “protect and defend the Consitution”? Seems that for the Biden family in general rules are for others.

      1. Milton

        On a personal note, because we have a number of federal projects, I needed to submit my vaccination status to HR by 11/30. I dutifully entered the required info and uploaded a pic of my vaccine card so I could remain employed. With retirement upcoming, I felt I had no recourse but to submit to this coersive action.

    2. Reader

      Is there any mechanism for the injunction to be expanded to the rest of the country while we wait for the Supremes to weigh in?

    1. The Rev Kev

      At last. The ‘herd immunity’ that our politicians have been seeking all along. If it does prove to be mild, they can say to us ‘It’s just the flu, bro’ so go get it but I myself have reservations. Omicron is so wildly different from the Delta strain you wonder what else it may be capable of evolving into. An analogy might be living in a neighbourhood with a troublesome neighbour. But then one day he goes outside his house and shoots off a shotgun in the air which you were never expecting. From then on, you wonder what else they are capable of.

      1. zagonostra

        “The ‘herd immunity’ that our politicians have been seeking all along.” No you’re wrong on this. What the politicians and their donor class owners want is for 100% vaccination with yearly booster shots.

        As is being discussed right now, in the EU, they are planning is to go beyond making it very difficult for people to exist (with testing, passports, fines, etc…) to making it impossible to exist without getting a State mandated injection.

        If you don’t see the danger that lurks here, you have not been paying attention to the warnings coming from Snowden, the precdent set by the Patriot Act, and the long history of overreach going back to the 1798 Alien and Sedition Acts in the U.S., it’s about control of the ruling elite over the ruled.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          Stop Making Shit Up. You are regularly engaging in fact free hyperbole and it needs to stop. You are already in moderation and can’t afford more troll points.

          There are members of the wealthy who are anti vax or vax hesitant. The position of Team Dem is not the position of all wealthy. I also know of wealthy business owners who have not taken the vaccines and/or believe in them themselves but are opposed to the mandates, either out of recognition workers will quit or philosophical opposition to that level of coercion.

          1. zagonostra

            Granted these are speculations and contain elements of hyperbole, though not completely untethered or disrespectfully in anyway. I will refrain from further comments and just read the much appreciated posts and links. Thanks for your comment on my comment.

      2. petal

        What’s all the fuss about? Most Omicron cases are ‘mild’ or show no symptoms at all and existing jabs should provide high protection against hospitalization and death, World Health Organization claims

        Snip: “Most Omicron cases are ‘mild’ and there is no evidence the new variant has any impact on vaccine effectiveness against serious illness, a World Health Organization official claimed today.

        A spokesperson for the global health agency said early data suggests the mutant strain is better at infecting people than Delta, even the fully vaccinated.

        But there is no signal that existing vaccines will be any less effective at preventing hospitalisations and deaths, the official, speaking anonymously, told Reuters.

        It is unclear what evidence the WHO is referring to, but the comment marks the first official hint that the Omicron super-strain may not wreak as much global havoc as initially feared.”
        More at the link.

        Head is spinning. I don’t believe anyone in positions of authority anymore.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I really wish you would stop repeated fake news. You are spreading propaganda. I’ve had to debunk this in virtually every comment thread since this weekend, when that crap started to circulate.

          From GM:

          Hospitalizations in GP are up, and they are up by a proportion of the cases from last week (accounting for the week-long delay between cases and hospitalizations) that might even be larger than the hospitalization ratio seen previously.

          And most of the current cases are young people, so it would get a lot worse once it has spread to the older cohorts too.

          More importantly, nothing in the sequences suggests it is milder, exactly the opposite.

          This is just the usual tactic of getting ahead of the situation and making sure that the first thing that people hear is what you want them to hear, because they don’t pay attention after that and are stuck with that impression. It was masterfully done early on with “it is just like flu”, “only old people die”, “you will be immune for life”, etc. lies, and has been applied again and again later on.

          Actual data:

          https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FFOEWyJWYAowtoV?format=jpg&name=large

          Last week is missing — currently they are slightly below 800, but they will pass that tomorrow. So we have a 5-6 times increase in hospitalizations in 3

          Also a big rise in cases among children and young adults:

          https://pbs.twimg.com/media/FFbrSHhWUAIBW7z?format=jpg&name=4096×4096

              1. petal

                Yes. Your interpretations are correct, albrt and lordkoos. Thank you. I put it up to shine light on the newest spin and conflicting information being put out.
                I am putting myself on permanent vacation and will no longer comment. Have a nice holiday season, everyone, and do take care. Best wishes.

                1. ambrit

                  Take care you and yours. A Holiday from the increasing frustration and dysfunction that commenting is becoming is a good idea. Hope to see your “handle” in front of comments in January.
                  Stay safe.

                2. HotFlash

                  My dear petal, please don’t go! I caught your drift immediately but would like to venture that tone of voice is not always clear in writing. As another who is not *axxed, I am looking at a timeline to be totally unpersonned and it gets closer with every ‘official’ pronouncement. I am beginning to understand how Jews in Germany went from being respected citizens to vermin in a couple of years.

                  My head is also spinning. I am shocked at how verifiable facts are ignored by so-called authorities, as Yves & co. point out repeatedly, and authorities we are supposed to trust and obey downright lie, as in the example you pointed out. Your thoughts and experience are invaluable contributions in this wonderful community.

                  PS I want to see Dr Fauci’s stock portfolio for the last 50 years.

            1. Yves Smith Post author

              petal, I am sorry to have come down on you hard and hope you do continue to comment. However, you need to understand how dangerous it is to repeat bad information.

              Repeating propaganda reinforces it. petal had five long paras and then a statement of confusion, not opposition, at the end. Aside from the ambiguity, lots of people would read only the first para or two

              Even debunking propaganda has to be done very carefully because studies have repeatedly shown that repeating the key concept wins more people over.

              One telling example was trying to dispute the idea that Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Osama bin Laden on the 9/11 attacks. Studies found that merely putting both names in the same paragraph conveyed the impression they were connected and thus shored up the bogus story.

          1. Pelham

            GM makes an excellent point here with his comment about “making sure that the first thing that people hear is what you want them to hear, because they don’t pay attention after that…”

            I’d modify it, though, to add that they do listen to what’s said after the first iterations, but only long enough to get ticked off by the apparent deception when authorities don’t own up to their early errors or noble lies. Then, not surprisingly, people lose faith and begin to turn the chatter off or become even more defiant if the harangues, shaming and seeming deceptions don’t stop. At least that’s my reading from the current mess.

      3. Procopius

        “They” just don’t know. They don’t know how transmissible it is, they don’t know how severe its symptoms are, they don’t know what its fatality rate is, they don’t know how effective the existing vaccines are. It seems likely that eventually a strain will emerge that will displace the more deadly strains, that’s the direction of evolutionary pressure, but in the meantime we’re left to pointlessly speculate, and I’m really goshdarned tired of it, since so many of them are just to create/increase panic.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      Wow. I haven’t read him in a couple of years, but Evans-Pritchard used to be pretty sharp, although like a lot of the smarter Brexiters he seems to have lost himself in a hall of mirrors.

      A lot of the reaction to Omi has been quite weird. I think a combination of fatigue and an overload of terrible information has led to people grasping at any straw in the wind. It wouldn’t surprise me if 2022 is the year of ghost dancers or the Dancing Plague.

      1. Wukchumni

        It wouldn’t surprise me if 2022 is the year of ghost dancers or the Dancing Plague.
        ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
        The very first Native American Ghost Dance was held in Eshom Valley in 1870 about 25 miles from where i’m pecking away at presently, and as luck has it-a friend and I are about to visit the area this morning. I’ll attempt the Charleston.

        The purpose was simple enough, for the survivors to bring back all of their loved ones who’d perished the year before.

        The 1870 Ghost Dance attracted the 60 or so Yokuts sub-tribes who were all decimated by the Measles epidemic which killed 85-90% of a population estimated to be 30,000 in 1868-69. It was a marathon affair lasting nearly a week and when it didn’t create the desired effect, it was thought that it was on account of white settlers who had come to observe, who had put the kibosh on second comings… and another Ghost Dance was held in Farmersville sans settlers-also about 25 miles away, so i’m in excellent triangulation for the next They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

        https://digitalassets.lib.berkeley.edu/anthpubs/ucb/text/ucp028-004.pdf

      2. JeffC

        One of my neighbors reminded me that chicken pox, in my generation an annoying but generally mild childhood illness, leaves its virus behind to maybe pop out as shingles decades later. Since Covid is fundamentally an inflammatory illness, perhaps we should wonder what those mild cases, Omicron or not, might spawn decades later. Inflammation can cause an awful lot of conditions. I guess this is the question of looooooooong Covid.

      3. Lambert Strether

        > It wouldn’t surprise me if 2022 is the year of ghost dancers or the Dancing Plague.

        “Hauntology,” as IIRC Mark Fisher called it (“a spectre is haunting…”). Except with real ghosts.

        NOTE “Ghost dancers.” And, for the dull normals, not the instigators, RussiaGate was?

    3. svay

      I haven’t read the Telegraph article, but the headline may (may!) have a grain of truth in it, in that a milder (we don’t know that yet) omicron might displace delta, leading to Hoorays from the stock markets and so on.

      However, even if (and it’s a big and iffy if) all that’s true, what will omicron evolve into, or what other variants might pop up to displace it?

    4. Lee

      Re: “If you force a virus to mutate is bad for the virus.”

      Say what!? I’m no expert but based on my limited knowledge, this makes no sense whatsoever. As I understand it, mutation is random; environmental selection provides direction. What does “bad for the virus” even mean?

      Bear with my while I apply my limited understanding to the proposition. Maybe it means something like this: it’s not beyond the realm of all possibilities that a mutation will arise that is more transmissible and less pathogenic that will then become dominant and essentially vaccinate us all for free. For some odd reason these days, I just don’t feel that lucky. Although, taking our collective fate out of the hands of our elites and and relying on random viral mutations to decide our future might be an improvement. Or not.

      My current understanding, and please do correct me if I’m mistaken, is that although mutation (absent human fiddling) is random and environmental pressures and opportunities provide direction. Host population density is an important environmental factor. The more hosts and higher frequency of transmission will not necessarily produce more lethal variants but it does reduce the selective pressure toward having to keep the host alive long enough for transmission to occur. Reducing host availability can either drive a virus to extinction or exert selective pressure toward less pathogenicity so that a virus may persist without having to rely on frequent transmission to a large number of hosts. Where this all ends up so far as the nature of the disease, I don’t know. We could end up with a less immediately lethal variant that still produces long-term chronic illness for example, as seems to be the case already.

      In any event, I’m still left with the question, what does he mean by “bad for the virus”, and how can promoting mutations necessarily produce a particular result that is determined by random mutations and environmental factors unless you are addressing selective pressures in the environment rather than relying on the crap shoot that is mutation?

        1. svay

          Molnupiravir encourages the virus to make ‘errors’ when replicating – that’s never been in any doubt, it’s how this drug works. Merck appears to admit that some of these ‘error’-ridden viruses survive, becoming highly mutated new forms. Most will probably be ‘weak’, rapidly out-competed by fitter variants. But who’s to say sooner or later molnupiravir won’t give rise to an even fitter variant, perhaps more virulent and with greater ability to evade current drugs and vaccines?
          I don’t see the flaws in Michael Lin’s reasoning. Perhaps you could point out which aspects of it you see as ‘scientific gibberish’?

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            With all due respect, what are you talking about? Ambrose Evans-Pritchard nowhere mentions Michael Lin or molnupiravir. And what he wrote about Omicron being benign is nonsense.

            1. Lee

              Perhaps there is some topic confusion and conflation in this thread. My comment is regarding Michael Lin’s “bad for the virus” pronouncement but I posted it under a lead comment about the Ambrose Evans-Pritchard article. Sorry for the muddle.

            2. svay

              I interpreted – correctly, it turns out – Lee’s comment as relating to Michael Lin’s Twitter thread, so my apologies to Plutonium Kun: I didn’t read the Telegraph article precisely because I assumed it was garbage, so thank you for sparing me the ordeal!

              Michael Lin, on the other hand, raises some concerns apparently shared by several members (if that’s the right word) of the FDA, though as we know, their voices did not prevail. We can but hope that Lin’s reasoning is flawed, and the FDA has made a wise decision in approving molnupiravir/Lagevrio – though I see no flaws in Lin’s argument, and the FDA does have a habit of approving drugs that later prove problematic. .

              1. PlutoniumKun

                No problem, it was just after I replied that occurred to me that Lee was referring to another link. For the record, I was referring to the Evans-Pritchard article.

    5. saywhat?

      A benign omicron may be the answer to our economic prayers AEP

      His economic prayers should be for a just economic system, not that the current unjust one gets an undeserved reprieve from its own inevitable consequences.

      If we repent of it, we might hope for mercy from a just God during the transition period away from it. Otherwise:

      “With the kind You show Yourself kind,
      With the blameless You show Yourself blameless;
      With the pure You show Yourself pure,
      And with the perverted You show Yourself astute.
      2 Samuel 22:26-27 [bold added]

      Frankly, I don’t believe we’ve been taught enough by Covid yet …

  3. Sam Adams

    RE: Kentucky v. Biden.
    Federalist Society Judge. We’ve watched the legislative branch commit Sepiku. The executive branch gut itself. We are in the process of watching the judicial branch jump off a cliff.

      1. Procopius

        Do you have a link to the actual Senate report? The link you provide is to a story in The Atlantic, which, on this topic, I consider as reliable as the [family blog] New York Times. Despite the committee having been chaired by a Republican, the reports on the report I have seen make it look like the report relies entirely on things like the Mueller indictments (the opinion of a group of people that they had seen something that plausibly called for a court trial to determine the truth with more clarity), and statements from authority, unsupported by independent evidence. I was terribly disappointed by Empty Wheel’s blogs which purported to show the evidence supporting the DNC hacking case which did not actually have any evidence. I felt the same disappointment in the Mueller Report, which was big on assertions and light on evidence. I expect(ed) the Senate report to be of the same species. I imagine I can find the report easily, but I’m trying to avoid spending the time looking it up.

        1. Procopius

          ETA: [since I missed the edit time limit] The story in the Atlantic includes a link to Chapter 5 of the Senate report. I only looked at a few pages because they were totally redacted. An example, page 158: first two thirds blacked out,

          The Comittee found that Konstantin Kilimnik is a Russian intelligence officer. The Committee found reliable evjdence suggesting that Kilimnik-like Boyarkin-.is part pf a
          cadre of individuals ostensibly operating outside of the Russian government but who nonetheless

          and the rest of the page and the next page are blacked out. This is not a persuasive presentation. This is the stuff they gave us in the “intelligence community assessment” back in January 2017. The people who believe this and the Mueller report and the assessment prove anything are hard core members of the Hillary Cult.

    1. Questa Nota

      They have to clap louder, and longer, to avoid being airbrushed out of the photos. Not just the Gray Lady Liar anymore. Cracks starting to form in the wall of BS, first hints of truth will out.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        If the crew behind various Democratic losses wasn’t foiled by Russia, then there is one inescapable conclusion. Anyone buying anything other than access has been throwing money into a ponzi scheme when they could have bought Bitcoin.

        In 2014, Politico had an article about donor grumbling in regards to Team Blue performance. Pelosi promised that Hillary would set things right in 2016 and to keep donating. Then Hillary ran another campaign where she demonstrated her remarkable incompetence. She lost to Donald Trump. Biden managed a win, and he’s an idiot. Between not delivering result, and these are the kind of donors who support paid leave, they exist, and the ponzi scheme, there are conditions exists penalty after the Virginia debacle for a revolt. Remember the money that went to doofuses in Kentucky and Maine.

  4. cnchal

    No detection of Omicron in the US so far.

    I can think of two reason and neither is good.

    Gross incompetence or gross lying to clownsumers to not frighten them before the Christmas profits are booked.

    1. Lee

      A couple I know are flying to Italy tomorrow to inspect and buy some wine barrels for their winemaking operation here in California. Maybe they’ll bring some Omicron back with them.

      As for “Gross incompetence or gross lying to clownsumers”, why settle for one or the other when you can most certainly have both.

  5. The Rev Kev

    “How we became weekly”

    The urge to be weekly-based may be a function of our humanity. As an example, there is a limit to how many people that you can be friends with called Dunbar’s number and this number – about 150 – is reflected naturally in everything from the size of military formations to church congregations. A sub-unit for personal friends is about forty people while acquaintances is triple the number and is about 450 people. So would you not have the same with humans and time? The natural unit to live your life by is the solar year with its four seasons but it is too large. And that is where the Moon phase cycle comes in handy as it is a manageable unit of time being only 28 days. Even then, it is too large a number of days to organize your life around and it is only natural that a smaller unit of time should arise which turns out to be a quarter of a lunar cycle which gives us seven days – our week.

    https://theconversation.com/dunbars-number-why-my-theory-that-humans-can-only-maintain-150-friendships-has-withstood-30-years-of-scrutiny-160676

    1. Amfortas the hippie

      this topic having been splattered across the web of late…i hafta admit that i just don’t get it.
      by virtue of my early “retirement”(disability) and my self-submersion in self-directed activity in intimate contact with Mother Nature…i rarely know what day it is(as in Monday, Tuesday)…let alone what Date it is(November 2, 3, 5)
      I grok seasons intuitively…and have often noticed this…likely the angle of the sunlight…
      I also grok moon phase, because i’m outside a whole lot, pre and post sun.
      (also the stars…when Orion starts appearing in the morning, for instance)…i know when to put up the critters based on the angle of the sun and/or weather conditions…and that’s how the chickens, et alia operate, too…so it works for us
      the only time consideration i use is for my pain meds…4am,noon and 8pm…but i rarely look at a clock even for this….and it was hard as hell to get into that groove–i used the iphone foisted upon me by the phone company to make that habit happen—now that is intuitive, as well.
      but i am otherwise pretty timeless.
      wife is forever mad at me for not realising that Today is the day she told me about 3 weeks ago….or neglecting to be somewhere at 4:35 pm(mop poorly,lol)…but tell me the day before…or for a specific time, that morning, and i will obsess over what time it is all day, and show up early and read in the truck.
      i don’t know anyone else….under 75 or so…who is this way…so with all this freaking out about the week, and its usefulness and/or providence, i find myself both mystified…as well as wondering what it’s like, subjectively, to be timekept.
      i don’t think i’d like being thataway…doesn’t seem right, and may have a large influence on our ongoing collective insanity.

      there is a clock i can see from my bed…so i know that i awaken at 4am pretty regular like…except for the winter time regime, when it’s 3am pretty regular like(which is still 4am, to me).
      i really wish everybody would freak out about the time change, instead…and not just a week, twice per year.
      stopping that biannual mess would be good for the collective soul, and lessen the incidence of myocardial infarction as well as folks going postal.
      as usual, we’re worrying about the wrong things.
      (like various Team Blue people suddenly discovering that FDA has “dropped the ball” on regulating tobacco…as if there weren’t more important failures at that particular agency,lol)

      of course, i realise that my time experience is prolly pretty privileged(in spite of our penury)…but i wish everybody could do it thisaway.
      comparing myself with my brother when he’s up is instructive…forever checking his watch and his fone(cell fones are like pocket watches)…when we were drinking around the fire this last weekend, i encouraged him to leave both at mom’s…and he was visibly nervous about not having them…looking at his empty wrist, feeling in his pocket…sneaking a look at the laptop clock(sound system at the Bar).
      and when he learned that it was 1am…suddenly, he was bone tired,lol.
      minutes before, wide awake and alert..even energetic(in spite of the inebriation).
      all this says to me that we are well trained, indeed.
      (see: john taylor gatto)

      1. Mantid

        Yes and hear hear. Been a fairly intensive gardener for many years but too busy “working” to get too much into the book learnin’ version of gardening. Lots of trial and error, comparing with friends, etc. BUT, over the years, being tied to the ground and plants teaches one to be aware of light, shadow, under and over story, insect patterns, not to mention Sun moon and stars. In a cocky way, I’m always guessing what time it is and being near spot on. As a child and teen I had paper route spending money and besides buying LPs, I bought a Timex a wrist watch (remember those for $15?). After losing it I realized I didn’t “need” it, I could just tell the time through logic and observation – even as a child. So why have more stuff one doesn’t need such as a wrist watch, expanding to now a days, a tethering phone. It’s such a joy racing the Sun set (or actually “Earth turn”) to get that last bit of work done during the day. PS, Hippie, I hope your disability doesn’t slow you down too much – Peace Out.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          it did while i was waiting for a hip, fer sure…and for a year after, when i found i was habituated to laying around and being perhaps overly cautious with what i attempted(6 and a half years from first filing for disability to actually getting the dern hip…sedentary/lousy househusband for most of that time)
          so i built a house(>$35K-2600 sq ft) as physical therapy/art project/magickal working, and haven’t stopped doing things since.
          if i stop, i seize up, and the pain can catch me.
          (number one reason i end up drinking beer more than i should is to avoid…often unconsciously…repairing to the damned bed..because i know it’ll be an agon to get back up again….instead, i sit out here at the Wilderness Bar, jammin…and/or wandering around(best fertiliser is the farmer’s footsteps))

          but i miss the Falcon…tricked out golf cart with puncture proof tires and a lift kit, rifle rack,toolbox etc…needed to take it to the dealer shop in San Angelo in May…but what with stepdad’s 4 months in ICU in san antone(other direction), i only got it in a week and a half ago.
          unknown what their parts situation is.
          so productivity has plummeted..as i hafta walk everywhere a truck can’t get(where all the doins that need to be done are)…and my knees and now both hips, and the ennervated gravel left ankle have all gone to hell in the interim.
          back to using the darth vader knee braces.
          hope the Falcon’s return allows some healing, eventually.
          amazing how much i had come to rely on that thing.

  6. CG

    > SpaceX

    An ever so annoying thing about the category of ridiculously obvious scams is how people who are paid beaucoup bucks to know better have been swallowing them hook, line, and sinker as of late. Likely, the more important thing to come out of Musk’s email relates to Starlink, with him writing “Satellite V1 by itself is financially weak, whereas V2 is strong”. Given the historic issues that LEO internet constellations have always demonstrated (i.e. Iridium needing to go through bankruptcy before becoming a profitable, albeit very niche, company and any number of planned constellations never getting off the ground before the money ran out), that SpaceX has been claiming a reliance on Starlink for it’s future revenue should have raised massive red flags among investors from the start.

    Questions that, given SpaceX’s ability to raise funds from said investors, apparently were never asked anywhere near enough. Since if they had, the absurdity of the business case for Starlink and thus a good portion of SpaceX, as laid out in this very good summary (http://tmfassociates.com/blog/2019/12/12/reality-and-hype-in-satellite-constellations/), would have been obvious. And this of course doesn’t get into the distance between what is likely the reality of the bezzle for the rest of SpaceX’s business.

      1. Michael Ismoe

        “Critical to national security”

        It cost taxpayers $120 billion to keep the airlines flying through Covid, I wonder how much they will throw at their CIA poster boy?

      2. wilroncanada

        jo6pac
        If we want to boldly send billionaires to where no billionaires have gone before, we should send them to the Tax Man.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Thanks for that link. I really do wonder where they find all the investors to back junk like this. And by that I also mean people who work in the financial industry. Are they the same sort of people who backed Theranos or who are into cryptocurrency? Last I heard, there are about 1,600 of these Starlink satellites in orbit right now. Suppose that Musk gets bored and goes out of the satellite business. Does that mean that all those satellites will be just orbiting the earth like so much junk? Considering that he wants to put 42,00 of these things in orbit, that may be a best case scenario.

      1. CG

        Since they’re in LEO, they’ll eventually come down. And, ordinarily at least, since they’re orbits are known they shouldn’t pose that much of a danger to other spacecraft, again with the key modifier of ordinarily. As to whether SpaceX is looking for a bailout or not, the only possible use for something like Starlink that I can think of, and given my lack of technical knowledge that comes with major caveats, is if Starlink’s business case is a stalking horse for an effort to expand the bandwidth available worldwide for DOD. In that case, profitability is not all that necessary and certain weaknesses, such as satellites spending substantial amount of time over the ocean, are boons. But I can’t say whether or not Starlink provides those capabilities or provides them sufficiently for the DOD to buy into them, in addition to DOD’s traditional reticence for dealing with Musk.

        That being said, the mention of Theranos gets to two questions that I’ve been mulling over for a while. A) are the various types of bezzle more common now than decades previous and b) if the answer to the prior question is yes, what are the theories of the the reasons that these scams can get their hands of billions of dollars without any real questions being asked? I have some thoughts (for example Robert Brenner’s asset price Keynesianism in his overall picture of the post World War II economy), but I’m always extremely interested to hear others thoughts on this.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          For your second paragraph, my personal theory is that the apparent high number of snake oil schemes is the result of a world with too much capital chasing too few genuine good investments, and so driving down returns to historically minuscule levels.

          In a high growth scenario, the corrupt insert themselves into a project to get their cut (as happens in China and any number of other high growth economies). In a scenario where excess capital is driving down the return rates of legitimate investments, then there is no fat to get a cut – hence the way to make lots of money fast is to increase the bezzle (i.e the fictional value) and take a cut of that before everyone realises its snake oil.

          1. CG

            That tracks with my thinking for the most part, although I can’t really explain in depth while on my phone. The question then becomes why are rates of return so low on productive investment that outright snake oil becomes more attractive when previously productive investment was better able to crowd out snake oil.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      I would guess that the real ‘core’ of profitability for Space X would be government contracts, not Starlink or anything else. I suspect something like Starlink could only be truly profitable if it managed to push a new protocol that allowed Musk or anyone else to monopolise a chunk of the telecommunications industry.

      But its a big deal if Raptor really is in trouble. Its a very advanced engine, designed for multiple re-use. Nobody has done this before for an engine remotely this large (even the space shuttles engines required massive refurbishment between flights). If it works, it allows Space X to significantly cut the long term cost of heavy lift into space over one-shot competitors (i.e., all of them). If it fails, SpaceX has lost its special sauce that gives it an advantage over all the other alternatives.

      1. CG

        As to the first point, so something along the lines of what is being alleged in this article about a recent an auction the FCC held for subsidies for providing rural internet service last year (https://muninetworks.org/content/rdof-auction-ends-confusion-and-corruption-may-just-be-beginning) where it looks like the FCC awarded subsidies to companies that underbid and overpromised the capabilities they could deliver? And, as I mentioned in the previous post I made, I’m seriously wondering what level of use the military could get out of Starlink.

        As to your second point, an odd thing to keep in mind about Raptor. It’s an engine using a full-flow staged combustion cycle. On paper, this isn’t all that out there technically, and indeed on the surface it looks SpaceX’s Raptor engine is working to some degree. However, both the US and Russia at different points in time (Russia in the 60s and the US in 2000s) attempted to develop this same type of engine, and both projects were abandoned. This isn’t necessarily dispositive of anything, but given that we are dealing with a snake oil salesman, were I investing in SpaceX I’d really love to know what lead to both of those projects being canned and what SpaceX has managed to develop that makes this a viable engine now. (Credit where credit is due, both of these points come from a Reddit user called TheNegachin who is involved directly in the aerospace industry. He’s written up some pretty good summaries about SpaceX’s various products that I think would be of interest around here as well).

        1. PlutoniumKun

          Thats interesting thanks – years ago I read about full flow engines, the little I know about them is that they are potentially more efficient and simpler, but require more complex engineering which was generally not considered worth it for disposable engines.

          You make a good point about designs that have previously failed for unknown reasons. Its very common for major design projects to fail but for a variety of reasons the design teams to blame someone else for the problem rather than admit that they simply couldn’t solve some fundamental problems. The world of modular nuclear reactors has many examples, which is one reason I’m always deeply sceptical of the weekly press releases than announce that someone has finally made one work.

        2. Randy

          If you look at how federal (and probably state) bidding works you’re basically required to pick companies that underbid and overpromise. To the extent there’s wriggle room it’s for stuff that shouldn’t matter like if the owner of the company is a veteran or a minority. It’s an insane system.

      2. Carolinian

        From the typically skimpy technical details in the article it sounds like it’s a production problem rather than (so far) a re-use problem.

        As to Musk, one of Newt Gingrich’s staffers once said “there are Newt’s ideas and Newt’s good ideas.” The same may go for Elon and he’s only partly a snake oil salesman. His initial notion that space travel must be cheaper to be practical sounds right.

        1. Randy

          Space flight for what purpose though? To terraform Mars? Mine asteroids? Give low orbit tours for millionaires? I’m looking forward to how the billionaires accomplish these things when the planet they already live on is going to be unrecognizable in a matter of decades due to climate change. Maybe they know something I don’t, like that Mars has enough water to make up for Silicon Valley’s increasingly vanishing reserves.

          1. Carolinian

            Mars is probably one of his bad ideas although he claims it’s the whole motive for Space X.

            NASA at least seems pleased with Elon since they keep giving him contracts. Of course space exploration has been controversial going back to Apollo when many said the money would have been better spent on social programs.

            Think I’d say that if we are going to talk priorities then the Pentagon should go before NASA gets the boot. Obviously the general welfare is not a high priority for the higher ups. But if they are going to spend money on space then better Musk’s reusable rockets than a boondoggle like the very expensive Space Shuttle.

            1. Mantid

              NASA has been run with private dollars for quite a while. Global public/private partnerships are heavy into most government organizations. Here’s an example of a recent NASA offering to the rich: “NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has prioritized funding opportunities for public-private partnerships”. From this link: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/TippingPointACO20

              Your tax dollars in action!

          2. CG

            That’s another obvious problem. If Musk I saying that for SpaceX to make money Starship needs to launch twice a month, with the advertised payload what plausible launch manifest exists to justify that flight rate. And that is in addition to the technical questions that exist. At the end of the day, the same questions that existed in the 70s about the Space Shuttle.

          3. Amfortas the hippie

            i get the sentiment that we’ve got better things to do right down here, and all.
            but i’m a Nasa kid…and agree with Hawking that it’s prolly in the interest of long term survival as a species that we put some eggs in other baskets.
            that’s assuming long term human survival is a Good Thing… all by itself, or for some other reason…and totally neglecting the “Because it’s There” aspect of it all…
            I’ve also contemplated that giving…ahem…certain people something to do, somewhere far far away, might be good, in and of itself.
            also,i think that the overall lack of physical frontiers these days tracks with the incidence of angst, ennui and the sort of existential…even ontological…homelessness so evident in the humans i come into contact with.
            when all the maps are colored in, and “everything” is known, we’ll die of boredom.

            1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

              “also,i think that the overall lack of physical frontiers these days tracks with the incidence of angst, ennui and the sort of existential…even ontological…homelessness so evident in the humans i come into contact with. when all the maps are colored in, and “everything” is known, we’ll die of boredom.”

              “The lack of physical frontiers” is a misplaced personal supposition on your part. The limits of individual human endurance, “frontiers”, and adventure can still be tested and realized, in a variety of ways on this planet, if it is truly desired. Such testing and realization is only limited by personal ability (physical, mental, financial, ect.), personal will, and personal imagination. There are many choices and paths available. When and if you have the time and inclination, review the following FREE offerings (as examples only) and see if that is indeed the case, or not.

              1. “Meru”: “In the high-stakes game of big-wall climbing, the Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru may be the ultimate prize. Sitting at the headwaters of the sacred Ganges River in Northern India, the Shark’s Fin has seen more failed attempts by elite climbing teams over the past 30 years than any other ascent in the Himalayas. To undertake Meru, says Jon Krakauer, the bestselling author of Into Thin Air, “You can’t just be a good ice climber. You can’t just be good at altitude. You can’t just be a good rock climber. It’s defeated so many good climbers and maybe will defeat everybody for all time. Meru isn’t Everest. On Everest you can hire Sherpas to take most of the risks. This is a whole different kind of climbing.”

              https://www.documentarymania.com/player.php?title=Meru

              2. “The Dark Glow Of The Mountains – Reinhold Messner & Hans Kammerlander”

              “A historical film in mountaineering strategy showing the first time two 8000m mountains were climbed in a single season. The first “2fer”. Produced by Werner Herzog this is perhaps the best film I know of on climbing philosophy and the perspective of Messner.”

              “I am glad today that I don’t have any kind of profession. Having one means the end of any knid of creative activity”–Reinhold Messner

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtXwLGLcFrY

        1. JCC

          I have my doubts. As a former SatCom technician for the DoD and commercial suppliers, one of the big problems with SatCom is latency due to what is colloquially called “bursty” transmission. And I would think that hopping from sat to sat in a LEO environment would only add to that problem. It may be milliseconds faster in a perfect world, but landline fiber transmission is much more consistently reliable.

          As an example, that frequent “tearing” you see on your television screen when watching live sporting events is a typical result, and those broadcasts are coming down from geo-stationary systems, not LEOs.

          So, it depends on application, as usual, as to whether it will be good for effective arbitrage. Real-time and satellites, at least in the past, has not been consistently reliable, although excellent for document transmission, email, and that sort of thing when you’re stuck in the boonies or the middle of the ocean.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        I don’t see Musk converting any of his companies into blue chips. He’s still functionally a chic brand backed by people who have never read science fiction as the seem to think Musk invented the idea for trains. I don’t see Musk becoming a safe place to park money, so if the people chasing returns don’t see big returns, watch out.

  7. upstater

    RIP Lady Jayne. So sad to lose such a beautiful friend. What a mix and what a beauty. We got an Aussie as a pup and restricting his squirrel and chipmunk chasing to our yard was almost 2 year of work. High speed, turf ripping running is their life. So sorry for your loss.

  8. Nikkikat

    antidote du jour. the picture of beautiful Jayne, seems one could feel the softness of her furry ears. Lovely picture.

    1. wol

      Lady Jayne is a wonderful name. We had an Aussie/BC mix with velvet ears. I made sure to feel them every pet. I knew I’d miss them.

    1. Silent Bob

      I work at VA. Based on the bullshit mandate emails I receive the head dipshits, especially including the Secretary, still don’t believe vaccinated can get or spread the virus. One of the largest health care networks in America. Incompetence or evil? You decide.

  9. Tom Stone

    So slow Joe wants to privatise Medicare in the midst of a Pandemic.
    It’s not a matter of principle,he doesn’t have any principles I have been able to discern.
    It’s not about Money or Status, he’s the Prez and he has more money than he can spend.
    So what is it about?
    I posit that it is the cruelty of a very small man.

    1. Nikkikat

      Along with some very RICH men. These puppets just do as they are told. The oligarchs have wanted our Social Security under their wall streets thumbs since it passed congress in the 30’s. They will get too.

  10. diptherio

    Re: Rain to replace snow in the Arctic as climate heats, study finds Guardian

    It’s already happening here in NW Montana. December first and the temp was around 50F at 5:30 am, with a smattering of rain last night. We’re looking at two years in a row without any appreciable snowfall outside the mountaintops. Not good at all.

    1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

      The other evening I came across some videos from a site called BC trucks featuring dashcams of truck drives up & down the Coquihalla highway in British Columbia. Hair raising stuff during Winter through what looks like a pristine mountain wilderness with one stretch of the road called The Smasher & the whole road referred to as the Highway Through Hell, which I think is unfair in blaming the location as the hell to me it seems is the road itself. Due to the wide angles of the cams for me at least by eye going up looks the same as going down.

      It’s all closed at the moment due to heavy rainfall causing mudslides resulting in massive damage which I imagine will be very expensive to repair & has me wondering how sustainable that route & possibly others in that area will be in the longer term. I somehow got the impression while watching that what I assume were pines that pen in the road from either side were like an army just waiting to move in & takeover.

      https://newsofamerica.org/2021/11/17/new-photos-of-coquihalla-highway-damage-released-as-road-remains-closed/

        1. Eustache de Saint Pierre

          I suppose that the worry might be if she has another tantrum during the repairs – incredibly beautiful up there as one video illustrated by changes in the light.

          Not long back from County Donegal & very basic living up on a mountain which would very likely be a pimple in comparison to those in BC, but we got caught in a storm going by the name of Arwen resulting in the studio / shed’s door having similarities to the one in the log cabin featured in Chaplin’s Gold Rush, but we were well supplied so nether of us saw any human sized chickens.

          A fair bit of damage as I headed back & relative to true wilderness Mother Nature as they say over here was very thick that day.

    2. lordkoos

      Here in eastern WA it is 65 degrees in the shade as I type. I grew up here, lived here from 1951 to 1970 and again from 2012 to the present time. I have never experienced the weather this warm in December!

      1. wilroncanada

        lordkoos
        One town on eastern Vancouver Island reported a temperature of 20 Celsius this afternoon.
        Almost all locations in southwestern BC have recorded record high temps for a December day, and also rainfall records for November anywhere from 1.5 to five or 6 times previous records. Some coastal towns, Port Renfrew for example, have recorded more than 1 metre of rain.
        To Mildred Montana, the Coq, if it opens at all in January, will be open to commercial traffic only, with much slower speed limits in spots, several temporary bridges to replace those blownout by the storm generated floods. Right now, only 2 of 4 highways to the rest of BC are open at all: Highway 99 straight north from Vancouver–frequently still closed due to small landslides and road repairs, and Highway 3, the southern trans-provincial, open to commercial or necessary traffic only, and also subject to special restrictions. One rail line, of the two, is now open. I think the line south to Seattle is still closed also. The pipeline from Alberta had to close for storm-related repairs. Oil and gas are arriving into Vancouver area and Vancouver Island by barge from the western US and by rail from Alberta. We have semi-rationing–30 litre limit per service station visit–until mid December.

  11. svay

    Redo of a Famous Experiment on the Origins of Life Reveals Critical Detail Missed for Decades

    According to the article, the prevailing theory of how life on Earth came about is that lightning strikes turned minerals into organic compounds like amino acids. Is that so? I get the impression activity around deep-sea hydrothermal vents is now thought at least as likely to be the origin of life, and recent research even indicates that external energy sources may not have been involved, as, under those conditions, energy is released rather than required when various organic molecules are formed from inorganic precursors.

  12. The Rev Kev

    “This Map Shows the Pacific Northwest’s Nightmare November Rain Totals”

    Odd this. At the opposite side of the Pacific in Oz we have been having heavy rains since last week. So we have been having floods in Queensland with one town evacuated-

    https://7news.com.au/news/weather/queensland-towns-including-warwick-goondiwindi-at-flood-risk-after-inglewood-evacuated-c-4768414

    Places like Gunnedah in New South Wales have been flooded too-

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-11-29/nsw-floods-rescues-gunnedah-narrabri-namoi-river/100657640

    And the same has been happening in Melbourne in Victoria as well-

    https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-12-01/wild-weather-melbourne-victoria-storms-flash-flooding-/100667374

    You wonder if it is one system that is accounting for all this rain on both ends of the Pacific.

    1. wilroncanada

      The Rev Kev
      I didn’t mention in my submission above that the other coast of Canada, like eastern Australia, has had an unusually strong storm as well. Many roads in Eastern Nova Scotia were washed out. The main road from east to west in Newfoundland has been broken. This is a highway and (former) rail route called the Wreckhouse, that typically gets 150 km/hr winds in storms. Rail cars were known to have been blown off their rail in the wind. But this time it was the rain. As a result, one of the ferries from Nova Scotia to Newfoundland is (kind of) grounded because the ferry terminal, Port Aux Basques, is cut off from the rest of the province.

      1. The Rev Kev

        wilroncanada

        Years ago if I thought about climate change, I was thinking in terms of rising sea levels, region-wide droughts and heat waves. Somehow, I never thought about how extreme rain could also be a part of this. Here in Oz we have had the wettest November in 122 years of record keeping with more on the way in the coming weeks of summer. Where I live,, there are any number of roads cut by flood waters. Yes, La Niña is also part of this but I do not think that it is the full story here-

        https://www.9news.com.au/national/australia-weather-australia-records-wettest-november-in-122-years-more-rain-to-come-in-summer/4f2d7ce6-5547-4949-b947-b9aaf51e4271

    1. Louis Fyne

      YES!

      I intimately experienced the foster/child welfare system via extended family….and it was Byzantine-Kafkaesque enough as is—fortunate enough to afford attorneys (plural!), take time off from work for hearings, able to read all the paperwork, etc.

      For a family who live paycheck-to-paycheck, one punch clock at a time. No way! (particularly if one doesn’t have reliable transport )

      Talk about burning down the village to save it.

  13. Ghost in the Machine

    Biden’s message to Wall Street: Mass death will not interfere with corporate profits WSWS

    Talking to PMC types (I am one) they believe lockdowns also inevitably lead to mass homelessness and death. They can’t conceive that the government could help with the kind of money they give Wall Street. Also, I think they imagine the grid collapsing and food not being produced. Obviously, monitored exceptions would be made for these professions. Maybe a subconscious fear is it becomes abundantly clear who the essential (the really productive and important) workers really are. And those workers might also realize it in mass.

  14. Tom Stone

    The Molnuprivir thread is not surprising, the consistency with which our elites have done everything they can to worsen this Pandemic is,I suspect, proof of both incredible Hubris and infinite stupidity.
    Even without Human induced Mutations ( Because Markets…) it seems highly likely that the US healthcare system will completely collapse before late spring.
    Along with a shitload of other systems that are already under a great deal of stress.
    Water always comes to mind, potable and otherwise.
    Who makes the chemicals used to treat potable water ?,sewage treatment?, we’re already looking at fertilizer shortages and very likely food shortages.
    Cholera and Typhoid have not gone away…
    The answer?
    It’s a great time to privatise medicare!

    Over the decades I have encountered a number of people who never had to face the consequences of their actions, no matter how stupid, corrupt or evil those actions had been.
    The privileged.
    Having so many people like this concentrated in “Leadership” positions may not be survivable for most Americans in as short a time as 2-3 years.

        1. Mildred Montana

          “If you think nobody cares, try missing a payment.”
          —–James Scurlock, 𝘔𝘢𝘹𝘦𝘥 𝘖𝘶𝘵: 𝘏𝘢𝘳𝘥 𝘛𝘪𝘮𝘦𝘴 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘈𝘨𝘦 𝘰𝘧 𝘌𝘢𝘴𝘺 𝘊𝘳𝘦𝘥𝘪𝘵 (2008)

        2. Keith Newman

          @Yves @ 11:10
          Indeed. Many PMCs are trapped too. I know a number.
          Lambert had a link to a blog post illustrating this a year or two ago by… I can’t quite remember… someone Roth..? I’m not at home so don’t have my usual data links.

  15. David

    “Pregnant Florida library worker killed after pulling gun on biker she intentionally hit with car.”

    It’s probably very callous of me, but I have to admit that my immediate reaction was to think that this was a headline written by an algorithm, programmed to come up with the most caricatural American crime story imaginable. Then I discovered that it actually seems to have happened.

    1. Michael Ismoe

      It’s Florida. When you mix the words “pregnant” ‘biker” and “hit” then it’s a Florida story.

      If it was “Tesla” “macrobiotic diet” and “called Hiway patrol” it’s a California story.

      In Alabama “tractor” “barefoot” and “shotgun casings” are the key words.

      1. Expat2Uruguay

        In Uruguay its maté, futbol, and tranquilidad. But then it’s a totally different news story…

    2. MK

      This was a cascade of poor decisions – and not to make the obvious reference to Kenosha:

      (1) Road Rage lead to this woman deciding it was a good idea to intentionally strike the man on the motorbike. (Regardless of who ‘started it’ or kept it going, they are both at fault in this part.)

      (2) Woman strikes motorbike on purpose (woman at fault).

      (3) Woman refuses to wait for police to arrive and takes off (woman at fault).

      (4) Guy decides to follow her home, rather then give her plate to the police when they arrive on scene (man at fault).

      (5) Woman feels threatened and retrieves a gun and goes back outside her house instead of waiting inside for police to arrive (woman at fault).

      (6) Man shoots woman as she approaches him with her own gun (both at fault).

      1. CuriosityConcern

        It’s just sad, she had an 11 yo daughter too. De-escalation at any of the six steps you identify, or the points inbetween would have most likely led to a different outcome.

        1. NotThePilot

          I’ve started to think this is really the best argument against a culture of individuals carrying guns for self-defense. The very act of carrying that gun, without a disciplined purpose (like hunting) or group (like in a military), predisposes way too many people to act the fool.

          I’ve come to think the best approach to gun control in the US would be paradoxically to act more like the Swiss. We should actually arm & train even more of the population how to use a gun safely, but the gun itself should be tied to responsibly participating in the local community. Start acting suicidal, unstable, or like a jerk, and it goes straight back to the neighborhood armory until you chill out.

          Not only does that make all the back-and-forth over the 2nd amendment moot (because everyone’s in a well-regulated militia), but it would totally change what our culture tends to associate guns with. Instead, guns in our society have become almost like fetishes for many people’s anti-social, paranoid, and power-hungry side.

              1. John

                If you are carrying a gun, you had best stay calm and polite. Pick one: a bullet in the belly OR walking away

    3. fresno dan

      David
      December 1, 2021 at 9:52 am

      It appears to me there are a few suppositions in the story. The first that is problematic is “intentionally hit with car” – I would suggest “alledgedly intentionally hit with car.”
      1: who are the witnesses that assert the hit was intentional?
      2 Why for an intentional hitting of the motorcyclist was there no injuries or even that the motorcyclist was knocked off the motorcycle: “Derr was not injured or ejected from his motorcycle.”
      3. Seems odd to me that two other persons would also follow the woman over what was such a minor occurence. What motivated these people to be so concerned about traffic enforcement?
      4. The other persons also happened to be armed??? “She tried to kill me. And those other people, I think they had guns, too,” he says.
      5. NOW, lying on the ground with arms outstretched is the wise course of action – but it just seems a little too KNOWING (prior run ins with the criminal justice system???)
      So maybe this woman should have stayed at the scene, and the motorcyclist was well within his rights. It will be interesting to find out more about this case. Or maybe the woman sized these individuals up, and they looked like bad dudes to her….
      A well armed society is a polite dead society. It strikes me that fewer guns and that woman would still be alive. The gun she had didn’t protect her…

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        The two other persons following confirms the idea that her action looked deliberate. They reacted as if she was leaving a hit and run.

        I can see a move that looked intentional, like a sudden swerve at the cyclist with no other trigger (like a squirrel running into the lane) and then a snap back into her lane.

  16. The Rev Kev

    “New law allows for warrantless spying on Australians – where next?”

    Aaand this is why I read RT daily. I can’t recall hearing squat about this here in Oz and so I find myself having to read about it in a Russian news source. Our media here is crap at the best of times but I do wonder if there has been a D-Notice slapped on this story as it is really a hair-on-fire story. Just to double down on the censorship here, Scotty from Marketing wants to ‘introduce new legislation forcing social media companies to “unmask” anonymous users who post offensive comments, or make them pay defamation fines if they are unable or refuse to do so.’ We have pretty harsh libel laws here so I can see such a new law being used to crack down on dissident views. A Minister here just won a libel case over a Tweet because it hurt his feelings and got $35,000. This surprises me as this was Peter Dutton who is hardly the sensitive type-

    https://www.rt.com/news/541534-australia-unmask-anonymous-trolls/

  17. John Siman

    I am truly dazzled to learn that, 366 years after the leaders of the Amsterdam synagogue first issued their eternal herem (חרם‎) against the heretic Spinoza, these guys continue to stick to their guns! And it’s important to note the coolness of the terminology still being used, for Spinoza is being denounced here as an “Epicouros” (אפיקורוס), the rabbinic word for heretic, which, by preserving the ‘ou’ diphthong, adheres more closely to the original Greek spelling of the atomist philosopher’s name — Ἐπίκουρος — than our normal English spelling, Epicurus. Thus is the identity of the father of all heretics revealed!

    And all of this delightful heretic-bashing connects directly to the American Revolution! The book to read here is Matthew Stewart’s Nature’s God: The Heretical Origins of the American Republic. For Stewart shows that just as Jefferson learned from Locke, Locke had learned from Spinoza — and that the prime mover in this long chain of radical philosophers was Epicurus, whose teachings survived Antiquity in the Lucretian poem De rerum natura, the Gassendi edition of which was among Jefferson’s most treasured books.

    As Stewart notes: “In his last years at Monticello, [Jefferson] studied Gassendi and Lucretius intensively in hopes of synthesizing their views within a comprehensive moral philosophy of his own. In a letter of 1819 to William Short, Jefferson made it official. ‘I too am an Epicurean,’ he announced” (p. 79).

    Here is the link to the relevant article in The Times of Israel:
    Amsterdam synagogue declares Jewish expert on Spinoza ‘persona non grata’ — denounces Spinoza himself as an *Epicouros*
    https://www.timesofisrael.com/liveblog_entry/amsterdam-synagogue-declares-jewish-expert-on-spinoza-persona-non-grata/

    1. lyman alpha blob

      Thanks for the explanation – I couldn’t figure out why the ticked off rabbi was throwing Greek at the Jewish professor.

      1. John Siman

        The Wikipedia article “Epikoros” is very informative! Here are the last two paragraphs of it:
        “In his work Mishneh Torah…, Maimonides rules that an Epikoros is a person who denies that God communicates with humans through prophecy, or one who denies the prophecy of Moses, or one who denies God’s knowledge of the affairs of humans (i.e., one who maintains there is no divine providence). Maimonides probably encountered the name of Epicurus, the Greek philosopher, some time after composing his commentary on the Mishnah and before composing The Guide for the Perplexed. In the first source he erroneously states that the rabbinic term Epikoros is an Aramaic word, but in the Guide he has already become aware of the atheistic doctrine of the philosopher by that name. He cites the source of his information as Alexander of Aphrodisias’ treatise On Providence.

        “Following the Christian censorship of the Talmud, starting with the aftermath of the Disputation of Barcelona and during the Roman Inquisition and the Spanish Inquisition, the term spread within the Jewish classical texts. Censors shunned expressions like minim (“sectary”), which they viewed as referring to the Christian faith, and replaced them with the term Epikoros or Epicurus, hence a heretic, since the Church would also fight the heretics.”

  18. Robert Gray

    Re: Richard Cordray

    So, this PMC stalwart “is to the left of Lenin,” according to Sen. John Kennedy (Rep., LA). Wow. As much cognitive dissonance as a statement such as this will cause here at NC, the sad-but-true fact is that tens of millions of Americans — blissfully not knowing anything at all about Lenin — accept it at face value. That is one reason I have respect for Amfortas’ slowball crusade at the feedstore. You’ve got more patience than I do, philosopher.

    1. NotTimothyGeithner

      At this point, it’s far more alarming there are still people who act surprised or thought Republicans would be nice to Biden.

      1. John

        I am unpersuaded that Senator Kennedy knows anything V.I.Lenin beyond a “Lenin bad” mantra. I imagine there is a list of words, names, and phrases that can be trotted out to demonize whomever you choose and a like list for those whom you consider good, righteous, praiseworthy.

        For myself, I concluded during the Obama years that Republicans had reached the point of never saying anything ‘nice’ about anyone they oppose or deem unworthy. Has anything changed since McConnell said his goal was to make Obama a one term president? The Republicans have reached a degree of negativity that they would condemn daylight if a prominent Democrat spoke in favor of it. What passes for politics has become a bad performative joke. It would be funny if these clowns were not pretentious enough to assume they know what they are doing.

    1. outside observer

      That is unfortunate. The hike is tied to the recent controversial fda approval of the alzheimer’s drug aducanamab, over which three members of the advisory committee resigned.

      1. John

        Aducanamab: Is that related to abracadabra? Of course it is extremely expensive and what better nostrum to be pushing than one targeted at an aging population.

      2. aletheia33

        visit to neurologist today for periodic testing of my 89yo partner’s cognitive impairment.

        he postponed the test in case current fatigue from surgical procedures were to skew results. never takes seriously any cognition test performed when patient is in hospital–results always inaccurately low compared to the usual.

        said he would not prescribe “the new drug” to anyone. considers it not adequately tested hence unsafe, and not shown to do very much for the AZ patient.

  19. Sailor Bud

    Getting raped by the county tax assessor: just got the value notice for my property tax, an increase from $92,119 to $108,994.

    It was $60,000 in 2018, the year after I bought the place, a whopping four years ago. I live in South Aberdeen, WA, one of America’s crumbling places. I bought his place to escape rent, and they’re going to saddle me with the same thing soon. I’m not sure any home on this street would sell for $109K, or anything close to it.

    Anyone else ever see such an increase in a year? I’m no great math genius, but that’s 15.5%, I think, in a year when they are wrenching the whole country to death. I know there was talk of increases, but this seems excessive, and I now wonder how much the increase on the local baron class properties was this year. I’m not sure, but I believe cruelty is very much policy now. I don’t want to live in this country anymore.

    1. Rod

      Your County should have an Appeals Process in which you can dispute the new valuation.
      And you should. Talk to your neighbors. Understand the process and the metrics before beginning.
      Three years ago, my property was reevaluated and they said it had increased 37%—letters/pictures/and some comps got a reconsideration at only 13% increase. Big time PITA.

      It’s my Homestead, not a housing investment.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        yes, absolutely…contest it…and bring pictures of whatever bit of rotten board you can find.
        chances are, just showing up for a hearing will be enough to get it knocked down…they are geared for people just paying it, and not wanting the hassle…as well as fear of Imperial Entanglements.(instructive that the hispanic population around here gets into property tax trouble at more than double the rates of even poor whites)
        it will also likely help if you can drop an OW Holmes quote somewhere(“I like paying taxes…”), so as to distance yourself from the usual angry people they deal with.

        the appraisal people out here are notorious for shenanigans…continuing to collect(and sue people) over an unconstitutional, and rescinded vehicle tax…and computing wild appreciation yoy for trailer houses and shacks—every 10 years or so, my beat up trailerhouse goes from $3k(the lowest they are allowed to go(?)) to $6k, to $16k…and then i notice(tax bill itself remains way low, thankfully), and hafta go wrangle with them.
        even paid them with a feedsack full of unrolled pennies one time, when they wouldn’t budge on the vehicle tax(stopped collecting it the next year, though)–the texas courts had declared that tax unconstitutional, but there was no enforcement mechanism…even the state comptroller couldn’t do anything.

    2. Jen

      Mine went up 20K in one year, but I live in a parsimonious New Hampshire town so when the valuation went up, the tax rate went down, so my taxes didn’t change based on the valuation.

    3. lyman alpha blob

      We had a much larger increase recently, mandated by the state. After the GFC in 2008, the city slashed the appraised values by 15% across the board and raised the tax rate, which I thought was a good move – saved them having to go to abatement court. Since then home prices have gone up astronomically, to the point where the assessed value was a small fraction of the actual price homes were selling for – some were assessed at under $200K but were selling for over $500K. This time they’d raised the assessed value and lowered the tax rate, but not equally across the board. Some people wound up with tax breaks even though their home values went up. Of course, others went in the opposite direction.

      You might get lucky, even with the increased valuation depending on what the did with the mil rate.

    4. Sailor Bud

      Thank you all so much for the responses and advice. I appreciate it bigly. Looks like I have a pain to deal with now.

    5. Maritimer

      Challenged my property tax, three times over twenty years. Won 2, lost 1. It is a great exercise in seeing how the Government really works. If you have kids, it would be a great civics assignment. Arrogance, lies, accounting tricks, deceit, etc.

      I learned, among other things, that our jurisdiction’s property tax software was imported from another jurisdiction and involved a company that had been implicated in mortgage fraud. One fraud to the next. When they try to justify the exactness of your property’s value, these folks would make a Big Pharma Epidemiologist blush.

      One Property Tax Racket which I read about years ago was that they wanted to put RFID chips on all the stuff in your house and tax that in addition to the current property tax. Probably with 5G and smart appliances etc., they will try to do this.

      In the area of municipal taxes, we had to pay $90 for a recycling bin. Bad enough, but on top of it, they wanted to put a GPS chip on that to monitor your uses of your bin. Citizen outrage blocked this spying. I actually checked the bin for the chip slot and it was there, so this must go on somewhere on this assaulted Planet.

      Lastly, I later had the immense satisfaction of seeing one of the particularly nasty, arrogant assessors stacking tomato cans at the Stupormarket! What goes around does sometimes come around.

    6. John Anthony La Pietra

      ($108,995 ÷ $92,119) – 1 works out to a little over 18.3% up. If the change had gone the other way, it would have been an almost 15.5% drop.

  20. dirtylaundry

    “We are doing our absolute best to help the virus…”
    It certainly seems so. Failure to recognize the airborne nature of this and ameliorate that through simple means is the most glaring example . Over promotion of leaky vaccines and failure to consider anything other than spike protein as the target for these vaccines another. Suppression of outpatient treatment. Failure to enable most low income workers to stay home if sick. The list is long. I no longer think this is accidental.

  21. dirtylaundry

    In case you missed this. From yesterdays Molnupiravir FDA:
    “I don’t think you can ethically tell a woman with COVID-19 that she can’t have the drug if she’s decided that’s what she needs,” said Cragan, a panel member and staffer with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I think the final decision has to come down to the individual woman and her provider.”
    But woe unto anyone who dares to use or prescribe the drugthatshallnotbenamed

  22. Maxwell Johnston

    “Pentagon: U.S. Military Footprint Staying Right Where It is”

    Taking on more missions in more regions with a fixed quantity of troops and equipment = imperial overstretch. The USA’s adversaries seem to understand this, judging by their recent actions; witness China re Taiwan, Iran re uranium enrichment, and Russia re Ukraine. Eventually someone is going to call someone else’s bluff, at which point fasten your seatbelts.

    1. John

      I do not think either the Russians or the Chinese are bluffing nor do I think either one is itching for war. The so-called experts in the Washington bubble are operating with an idea of what the world is that is hopelessly out of date. The Unipolar moment, to the extent that it ever existed, was (1) squandered and (2) passed, as moments do. Exceptionalism and notions of being the “indispensable nation” and the “global hegemon” are equally passé.
      It is long past time to looked the world squarely in the eye and accept reality, adjust to it, and learn to live with it. The danger is that those who live by narratives based on outmoded ideas can cause destroy us all in pursuit of their fantasies.

        1. Martin Oline

          I was curious, thank you for replying in spite of the snark. We lived in Liberty and unincorporated KC (Parkville branch) for 15 years or so and have talked of moving back. Many homes for sale were apparently bought very cheap or had homestead exemptions and their taxes are very low on Zillow. I caution myself that if we go in at the high end that is what the property taxes will reflect. Being retired I shouldn’t have to worry about the 1% earned income of KC.
          P.S. I am originally from Iowa, which stands for Idiots Out Wondering Around.

  23. Big River Bandido

    Re: Chris Cuomo. Now that his brother is finished in politics, he no longer brings any added value to his gig at CNN. First inklings of him being a liability, CNN pulls the plug on him. All parties, throughout, acting completely true to form.

    With all the contestants so despicable, it’s hard to decide whom to root *against* in this fight.

  24. Maritimer

    AI Is Learning to Manipulate Us, and We Don’t Know Exactly How Discover Magazine (David L)

    “Dezfouli points out that whether these technologies are used for good or ill depends on how responsibly we design and deploy them. In an attempt to ensure good outcomes, CSIRO and the Australian government developed an ethics framework for AI in government and industry.”

    How WE “design and deploy them”? How about THEM, the Bills, Oligarchs, Elite, etc. There is no WE in the AI, GI, Si deployment. And the Australian Govt and ethics in the same sentence?

    Science/Technology are now the slaves of THEM. As a member of the WE, I act accordingly. Just take the mRNA injection disaster and multiply it numerous times to get what a disaster AI, GI, SI are and will be.

  25. The Rev Kev

    “Our Friend, the Couch Panther”

    Still miss the black cat that we had. His name was Midnight but we called him Spooky. He naturally had no tail and had a liking for laying down on black surfaces where he became invisible. One time I was watching TV and felt unsettled but could not work out why. Then, in the dark recess of a cupboard next to the TV, this set of eyes opened up. Spooky indeed. It was apparently a snake that got him finally in our small hay-shed. I can see that Jayne’s owner also misses that great looking dog. Sometimes pets actually become family.

  26. Tom Stone

    “Don’t worry,it’s only a cold sore” is a phrase that keeps coming to mind in regard to Omicron.
    “Symptoms are mild”, that out of context quote from Dr Coetzee keeps showing up along with “There’s no reason to panic”.
    The oddest part for me is the implicit assumption that the virus will stop mutating, or that it has already.
    It’s in Human and a variety of animal populations and every host will host mutations, if Omicron has 5X the transmissability and 1/2 the mortality it is still enough to crash what’s left of America’s healthcare system.

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