Links 12/2/2021

Lanesborough Turns Out to Help Drafter Horse Out of Ditch iBerkshires (resilc)

Why insects are more sensitive than they seem BBC (Dr. Kevin)

Five cliches that never actually happen at office Christmas parties Daily Mash

Picturing the invisible: The Fukushima disaster 10 years on Science Focus (David L)

More Than a Third of World’s Population Have Never Used Internet, Says UN Guardian. Cell phone penetration in Africa is only 50% and that likely includes some dumbphones

DeepMind’s AI helps untangle the mathematics of knots Nature (Kevin W)

An Empire of Dreams John Michael Greer (Chuck L)

#COVID-19

We Still Aren’t Treating the Pandemic as a Global Problem New Republic

Science/Medicine. OMG, in a Freudian slip, I typed “Marketing” rather than “Medicine”

This interactive map shows where the Covid omicron variant has been detected CNBC

We are going to see more efforts to estimate the R0 for Omicron:

I asked GM for his reaction:

The analysis is OK, the parameters are uncertain.

My bet is on an R_0 around Delta’s or a little higher and a near-full immune escape

He is more optimistic on both

The epidemiological relevance of the COVID-19-vaccinated population is increasing Lancet (RR) Representative section:

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) identifies four of the top five counties with the highest percentage of fully vaccinated population (99.9–84.3%) as “high” transmission counties. Many decisionmakers assume that the vaccinated can be excluded as a source of transmission. It appears to be grossly negligent to ignore the vaccinated population as a possible and relevant source of transmission when deciding about public health control measures.

Many Severe Covid-19 Survivors Go on to Die Within a Year, Study Finds Gizmodo (Kevin W)

Warning: COVID-Fueled Mental Health Crisis Will Be a Costly Second Pandemic Institute for New Economic Thinking

Cognitive bias in crisis decision-making COVID-19 Actuaries Response Group. PlutoniumKun highlights:

Contemplating precautionary action ahead of the gathering of observed data does not come easily to those scientifically trained. Prof. Chris Whitty, the Chief Medical Officer for England, told the Science and Technology Committee in November 2020 that he preferred advice to be given on the basis of observed data. This is a perfectly sound and justifiable preference, yet clearly inappropriate in an emergency without time for ideal data gathering. The opposite approach was seen in Singapore: rather than being discouraged, face masks became mandatory in April 2020, as a common sense courtesy to others, well before the accrual of clear unequivocal scientific evidence of their value.

Some experts suggest Omicron variant may have evolved in an animal host STAT. GM is dubious:

An immunocompromised origin is much more likely here.

I get a feeling people are trying hard to not go there because they don’t want to stigmatize South Africa — this is a really big deal and will have that effect.

But all the pieces fit together perfectly:

1. We know we get weird variants from chronic infections. We have observed such infections many times. Both in the West and in South Africa

2. It comes from South Africa, the place with the largest number of immunocompromised people on the planet. Where three other very worrying variants had already come from — B.1.351, C.1.2, B.1.638 — more that anywhere else in the world.

3. It did not come from the countless other places where human-to-animal transmission has been seen.

4. There is the insertion at position 214, which is recurrent in SARS-CoV-2 and is directly linked to the polymerase borrowing a piece of sequence from an mRNA. And that sequence matches the human mRNA.

5. There is an extremely srtong signature of positive selection on the spike protein, and specifically in the RBD. This could, of course, be adaptation to a novel host, but is more parsimoniously explained by selection for immune evasion during a prolonged chronic infection

FDA Produces the First 91+ pages of Documents from Pfizer’s COVID-19 Vaccine File Aaron Siri (furzy)

Antipodes

From Basil Pesto on Scotty from Marketing’s buck passing:

‘A lemon’: Coalition fights to keep Covidsafe app data under wraps Guardian (Basil Pesto)

Asia

Japan drops blanket ban on inbound flight bookings amid criticism Nikkei

US

Omicron Shouldn’t Cancel Year-End Holiday Plans, Fauci Says Bloomberg

Finance/Economy

Goldman Sachs: Oil Market Reaction To Omicron Is Excessive OilPrice

JPMorgan Strategist Says Buy the Dip as Omicron May Accelerate Pandemic’s End Bloomberg. Lead story right now. Yes, helping JPM’s money manager clients whose bonuses depend on year end result. Or as a successful investor once pointed out, when you see someone touting a stock on CNBC, your reservation is not that they own it. It’s that they are in the process of unloading it.

COP26/Climate Change

Renewable Energy Has ‘Another Record Year of Growth’ Says IEA Guardian

Vermont just a adopted a Climate Action Plan. Here’s how it says we should reduce emissions. Vermont Public Radio (David L)

Major fashion brands linked to deforestation in the Amazon, report finds Grist

China?

WTA suspends tennis tournaments in China amid concern for Peng Shuai Sydney Morning Herald. Kevin W:

One female tennis player said that this will mean the loss of $300 million for the Women’s Tennis Association which will have to be found elsewhere. So when do the Association of Tennis Professionals do the same for the men?

Germany’s incoming foreign minister vows tough China stance Straits Times. Kevin W: “She kinda reminds me of Samantha Power.”

India

The Indian Farmers’ Movement Has Shattered Narendra Modi’s Strongman Image Jacobin (Chuck L)

India, Pakistan and the Taliban working together Asia Times (Kevin W)

EU Official: Semiconductor Independence Is Impossible tom’s Hardware

New Cold War

Russian attack on Ukraine imminent? Gilbert Doctorow (guurst)

Syraqistan

Both UN Official and US Amb. to UN Warn Israel Squatter Violence toward Palestinians is Escalating Juan Cole

Tel Aviv ranked world’s priciest city for first time France24 (resilc). Aiee, and it’s sure no Sydney or Paris or Hong Kong.

Senate Skeptics are Right: End Missile Sales to Saudi Arabia American Conservative (resilc)

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

Qualcomm’s New Always-On Smartphone Camera Is a Privacy Nightmare The Verge

Biden

As Build Back Better Is Gutted, Defense Act Is Deemed a “Must-Pass” Bill Truthout

Symone Sanders to leave the VP’s office Politico. Rats leaving a sinking ship. The obviously-leaked complaints to the press that Biden wasn’t treating Harris as well as her team and presumably Harris thought was just about assured not to work out well.

OMG so the right wingers who were talking about pedophilia weren’t totally crazy, even if it was (merely) cover-ups for pedophiles as opposed to “rings”. But now we won’t hear the end of it.

Democrats en déshabillé

Can Michelle Obama lead the Democrats to victory in 2024? RT (Kevin W)

Secretary of State Races: More Important Than Ever in 2022, and More Complicated, Too – Sabato’s Crystal Ball (UserFriendly). Secretaries of state in most states supervise and certify elections.

Abortion

The Memo: Trump’s justices look set to restrict abortion The Hill.

What Americans Really Think About Abortion FiveThirtyEight (resilc)

Women march for abortion rights across America NPR (furzy)

Abortions could require 200-mile trips if Roe is overturned Axios (resilc)

Black Injustice Tipping Point

White NYC woman who plowed BMW through 50 Manhattan BLM protesters REFUSES plea deal with sentence of six days community service and instead demands trial: Says activists began attacking luxury sedan as she drove down street Daily Mail. I can’t believe she got this deal. It will be tried in New York. Typical juror is middle/lower middle class city employee or hourly worker. There is a reasonable level of sympathy for BLM in the city and a lot of antipathy for those who drive their cars own cars around (if you are well off, the norm is to have a car just to get out for weekends and keep it parked in a lot or your building’s garage otherwise), and even more so luxury car drivers who think rules don’t apply to them. DAs also don’t like perps who blow off plea deals. I hope the prosecutor fries her but so far looks to have punted.

Gunz

Michigan school shooting: Suspect, 15, charged as an adult BBC

Chilling Videos, Journal Found as Parents Face Scrutiny in Michigan School Shooting‘ABSOLUTELY PREMEDITATED’ Daily Beast (furzy)

Alec Baldwin says he didn’t pull the trigger in Rust shooting Guardian. Kevin W: “‘Officer. Officer. It just went off in my hand.'”

Supply Chain

To Fix the Supply Chain Mess, Take on Wall Street Washington Monthly

Blast from the past: PG&E continues to privatize San Francisco’s electricity Yasha Levine

Pfizer Is Lobbying to Thwart Whistleblowers Exposing Fraud Intercept

Tesla Fan Driving Minivan Busted For DUI After Roll-Over Accident Smoking Gun (resilc)

The Bezzle

Investors Snap Up Metaverse Real Estate in a Virtual Land Boom New York Times

Guillotine Watch

Racy Affair Saga Between Jeff Bezos and Enquirer Reaches Final Chapter Wall Street Journal. Remember the dick pix?

Class Warfare

>MLB, MLBPA fail to reach new labor agreement; league in 1st lockout since 1990 ESPN

In the Era of “The Great Resignation,” Baseball Players Want to Choose Where They Work Mike Elk

Delivery, Ride-Hailing Firms Fight EU Plan for Gig Workers Bloomberg

The latest from one of my pet distractions: Dimash Kudaibergen ”Ikanaide” | 20th TOKYO JAZZ FESTIVAL YouTube. Note
Dimash is singing in Japanese and native speakers say he nailed the pronunciation.

Antidote du jour (Greg S):

And a bonus (Ian P):

Another bonus:

See yesterday’s Links and Antidote du Jour here.

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190 comments

  1. griffen

    Folks, the link to the minivan rollover is priceless. I respect* any individual willing to put ink on their face, I haven’t fostered the courage to tatted (as yet). But you are driving a seriously, seriously old GMC minivan!

    *For anyone not named Mike Tyson, there are limits. Or the dude in Hangover 2.

  2. The Rev Kev

    “White NYC woman who plowed BMW through 50 Manhattan BLM protesters REFUSES plea deal which would see her complete six days community service and instead demands trial: Says activists began attacking luxury sedan as she drove down street”

    Can you spell e-n-t-i-t-l-e-d? I don’t know who her lawyer is but I hope that he does not go on to represent Darrell Brooks Jr.

    1. Pat

      I realize that the wealthy have it easy everywhere, but some of this could be the Manhattan bubble. This woman has probably not had to be responsible for anything for most of her life. There are likely to be a few people not only taking care of the mundane tasks of life, but scrambling to get her what she wants. Forget attacking her car I’d go with she really thinks that the protesters inconveniencing her were committing the crime even before anything else went down. If she ends up in jail or really paying a price she still won’t understand. She will always be the victim.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        I forgot to mention Lizzie Grubman:

        On July 7, 2001, after being asked by security guards to remove her Mercedes from a fire lane, Grubman intentionally drove her father’s Mercedes Benz SUV[12] into a crowd of people outside of the Conscience Point Inn at 1976 North Sea Road in the Hamptons, injuring 16 people. Grubman was later charged in a 26-count indictment with felony crimes including second-degree assault, driving while intoxicated, and reckless endangerment.[13] The subsequent trial garnered widespread media coverage,[13][14][15] not only because of the particular circumstances of the crash, but because of what Richard Johnson, editor of the New York Post’s Page Six, referred to as “the overreaching drama of class warfare.”[16] Grubman was alleged to have made an inflammatory statement before striking her victims with her vehicle: “Fuck you, white trash.”[17] Later, allegations arose that she received “special treatment”[18] at the hands of police, who did not perform a Breathalyzer test[18] despite allegations, and later, criminal charges, that she was intoxicated at the time of the incident.[13][19] In the criminal trial, Grubman faced up to eight years in prison, but served only thirty-eight days in jail and received five years’ probation after reaching a plea bargain for leaving the scene of a car accident.[20] Grubman has said that the SUV incident was an accident

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lizzie_Grubman

        Her father is the biggest entertainment lawyer on the East Coast. Her father rented a full floor in my building, about 5000 square feet. It was generally assumed he rented (he also had a big house in the Hamptons) because no co-op in NYC would have him (too many business parties/comings and goings for their taste).

        But as you can see, trivial sentences seem typical if no one dies or is seriously mangled. But the # hit and the BLM angle could lead to tougher outcomes.

    2. doug

      I suspect she thinks she can buy one of the jurors, and that will be enough. I hope she finds out differently.

    3. fresno dan

      The Rev Kev
      December 2, 2021 at 7:46 am
      Its not just that she is entitled, its that the victims are not considered worthy of justice. I’m sure she would be doing years if she had hit ONE billionaire. If she had hit several billionaires, I’m sure she would have been suicided….

    4. svay

      Plowing seems the wrong word for it, suggesting to me a pretty slow pace, assertively encouraging or gently forcing people to get out of her way. Judging by the video, “White NYC woman who belted/shot/raced/hurtled BMW through 50 Manhattan BLM protesters” might make more appropriate headlines.

    5. Questa Nota

      Leona Helmsley rides again. She of the only the little people pay taxes fame. Now that a decent interval has passed since she got convicted and then passed, updated to read only the little people serve time.

    6. Phil in KC

      Seems as if all you have to do to get away with murder (literally, murder) is be in a state of fear for your life. Then you can justify just about anything, including vehicular homi

      1. Michael Sharkey

        >Seems as if all you have to do to get away with murder (literally, murder) is be in a state of fear for your life.

        If that was all that was required, James Fields would be a free man, rather than facing a life term plus 419 years.

  3. JMM

    This is the plan: South Africa had 2k cases on Monday, 4k cases on Tuesday and 8k cases yesterday. If they have around 16k today, time to hoard toilet paper and canned fish.

    1. Tom Stone

      The downplaying of the seriousness of Omicron is impressive.

      “Symptoms are mild”
      You betcha.
      Nothing to see here,go shopping.

      If, as seems to be the case, Omicron evades the vaccines and prior infection with the base strain and Delta do not confer immunity it’s not just Houston that has a problem.
      500% more transmissable than Delta may be a low estimate considering how fast it is spreading.
      If Omicron has half the Mortality/ Morbidity of Delta (No,we don’t have the data yet) and five times as many people come down with Omicron in a given period of time the Healthcare system won’t be the only system that collapses.

      1. Redlife2017

        The cope is hard amongst the traders at my firm. A real text conversation on Teams:

        Trader one: [Quoting Bloomberg] VON GOTTBERG; PREVIOUS INFECTION DOESN’T PROTECT FROM OMICRON
        Trader two: I can’t believe that…
        Trader one: Anne von Gottberg, Co-head of the Centre for Respiratory Diseases and Meningitis at the…Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa
        Trader three: Source if you have please?
        Trader one: [picture of feed from Bloomberg]

        Honestly, like “I can’t believe that” – well, honey, Omicron doesn’t need your belief to suck.

          1. megrim

            Right now the official narrative on the vaccines vs. infection-induced immunity generally (not just re: omicron) is that immunity from the virus is a crap shoot while the vaccine induces uniform, robust protection. I am not sure I buy this, but it’s what they’ve been trying to sell. It’s the same reasoning behind the argument that people who’ve had and recovered from covid should still get a covid vaccine.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I honestly don’t understand what anyone hopes to gain from wilful optimism over omicron? I thought traders were supposed to look at situations like this in a cold and analytical manner. For that matter ,I don’t really know why some public health people are also engaged in a ‘please don’t panic’ narrative rather than preparing people for the worst.

          1. Tom Bradford

            For that matter ,I don’t really know why some public health people are also engaged in a ‘please don’t panic’ narrative rather than preparing people for the worst.

            Perhaps I’m being generous but I’d like to think they’ve taken the lesson of “The boy who cried ‘wolf'” to heart. Until they’re sure Omicron really is a wolf, preparing people for a worst that doesn’t eventuate results in people not taking them seriously if a real wolf comes along later.

            And even if it is the wolf this time “Don’t panic” is still good advice, as panicking makes the worst even worse.

      2. lordkoos

        I happened to have a phone conversation with my first wife last night, we talked about COVID and she remarked how it sounded like Omicron was a mild version of the illness — the propaganda is definitely working.

    2. clem

      >3X or 4X the transmission rate of Delta
      if this thing is this transmissible + absolutely 0 immune from infected
      then china will sink into chaos

  4. Louis Fyne

    —Have you noticed it’s gotten tougher to understand movie dialogue over the past few years?—

    Feature not a bug (not talking about niche arthouse-esque film).

    The cinema-going audience is 15-30 and wants the loud ambient music, hushed dialogue passes for emoting nowadays in Hollywood, and as many films gross a majority of their money in non-English-speaking places, many people are reading subtitles regardless.

    and to be a grumpy senior, in my opinion, American society does not enunciate as much as 50 years ago—if you go by film-radio-TV. I notice myself being lazy with syllables when I talk to pre-school kids as I try not to pass on my bad habits.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Some movies are really bad mixing the sound. Sometimes one will be on TV and when there is dialogue you have to turn the volume up high to hear what they are saying but when there is an action sequence, then it is so loud that you have to turn the volume right back down again. So you find yourself riding the TV remote for the two hours of the movie dialling the volume up and down. And it does not help that some actors are graduates of the Marlon Brando School of Clear Enunciation either.

      1. Eduardo

        Yes.

        At our house we call that ‘inconsistent volume’ and it is a reason to stop watching a movie in the first ten minutes.

        If the filmmakers are too incompetent or too arrogant to avoid ‘inconsistent volume’ I don’t care to try to watch.

        (In the same vein if they can’t get the contrast right so that the movie is watchable, we don’t watch it.)

      2. Mantid

        Also, being a musician I’ve dealt with people at the sound board both live and in the studio for years. Well, “in the day”, only in the studio would one use headphones. Of course, now they are everywhere, literally everywhere. What happens is the the cilia the inner ear break and don’t transmit information to the brain – AKA hearing loss. When they break, they don’t grow back. You will never hear the sound transmitted from that cilia again. As an adult, you have some broken cilia but can overcome the loss through experience and delineation of sound and by being able to focus, ignoring unimportant sounds.

        With the wearing of head phones and ear buds through ones life, you increase the hearing loss, simple as that. So the sound person at the concert can’t hear very well, so what do they do – they crank the sound! It’s a feedback loop (thanks Hendrix). One can’t hear so one turns it up. You get it.

        The same sound person is mixing sound for the film score and the same person (who wears ear buds all the time) is listening to the film and can’t hear the subtleties. Less is more in this case.

    2. PlutoniumKun

      For a while I was worried that I had a hearing issue, but talking it over a few years ago with an sound expert I know he confirmed that its a widespread problem. Outside of the music industry the sound guy is bottom of the technical pile when it comes to having input.

      As for cinema, I think cinema design is also important. My local cinema (built 15 years ago) has notably better sound with many films that others in my area. I don’t know whether it was accident or design, or just that the projectionists put more work into getting the sound right. It might just be a case that its smaller and as such doesn’t need as much amplification and there are fewer (and better designed) exits.

      I think there is also a downgrading on the quality of home viewing – the entire focus of modern TV’s and PC screens seems to be on visuals, with sound a very secondary consideration. I find good headphones when viewing something alone makes a very big difference. Its unfortunate that the industry is increasingly giving up on making good earphones with cords.

      1. Pat

        There is now a whole industry in making sure the dialogue can be heard. Soundbars are marketed in having settings that enhance the dialogue, including no less than Bose. Since I first started seeing one such sound bar over three years ago, but didn’t see Bose marketing this setting until the last six months, I have no hesitation in stating that increasing the ability to hear dialogue is now driving sound bar sales.

        1. Airgap

          We solved much of the volume up volume down issues by using Sennheiser wireless stereo headphones. Not only do you hear dialog more clearly you discover the subtle sounds such as rain drops on a window or a rustling breeze in the forest. The effect with headphones is a more immersive and personal experience. An added benefit is that you can walk around the house and still hear what is going on – which is great during baseball games.

      2. Louis Fyne

        the Austrians had a word 120 years ago that would fix sound design problems, Gesamtkunstwerk—roughly translates as the totality of an artwork

      3. Hank Linderman

        I’m a recording engineer.

        A massive issue is the sheer number of sonic elements included in a mix – the more elements, the more difficult it is to mix and to then be able to identify individual elements. Compare a Beatles recording to a modern recording and you will get the picture. It is not uncommon to have a hundred tracks to mix in a modern production, and many of those tracks are loops, comprised from already existing recordings with several elements.

        When you record multiple elements at once with a single mic or two, it is much easier on the ear than recording the same number of elements individually. The second approach often ends up with the sense that everything is on a piece of glass a few inches from your face, there’s no front to back depth. Ugh.

        There is also the issue of whether the individual elements are mono or stereo. Using lots of stereo elements means a mushy mix. An irony of all of this is that a simple recording with fewer well recorded bits very often sounds louder and even bigger than a massive production.

        I have a friend who mixes for Universal, he has said he might have 100 elements to mix that make up a thunderstorm. Yikes…

        Best…H

        1. Louis Fyne

          Sounds analogous to what’s happened to CGI usage in modern film.

          Compare 1 CGI brachiasaurus in Jurassic Park to the 100++ elements in a typical summer tentpole film’s action sequences.

        2. jwillie

          Relevant music recording trivia. Tom Dowd, in his auto biographical “The Language of Music”, stated that he was surprised to learn while recording All Things Must Pass with George Harrison and Eric Clapton (and band members who with Clapton and Duane Allman became Derek and the Dominos, whose Layla album Dowd also produced) that all Beatles recordings were done in four track. Dowd had been using eight track since recording Ray Charles first R&B hit “What’d I Say” at Atlantic Records. Dowd learned about eight track from Les Paul, who had basically created it for personal use in his home recording studio.

    3. fresno dan

      Louis Fyne
      December 2, 2021 at 8:08 am
      Yeah, ever see Trainspotting
      People claim they are speaking English, but its not American and I had no idea what they were saying until I saw the movie again with subtitiles 20 years later.

      1. Lee

        The northern accents are to my ear incomprehensible. They do have many charming turns of phrase. And one must pay particular attention to context when they employ the pronouns “we” and “us” as it is often used as a first person singular designation instead of “I” or “me”. I wonder why that is.

        1. Basil Pesto

          That usage is not uncommon in Australia either. I sometimes say things like “let us know” referring exclusively to myself.

            1. newcatty

              Then there is the annoying use of “we” by many nurses and other people in mostly hospital settings. Example, when appearing at a patient’s bedside, or when first seeing a patient in an exam room: How are we feeling today? Anyone know, or guess, how that came to be common usage? This is in US. Couple that with the patronizing use of language more appropriate for use with a toddler. Example. So, you have a tummy ache? This was smirked to an adult man, by ER doc , presenting with what had already been diagnosed with a hernia. This is not, of course true of many fine health professionals.

        1. Lee

          As an aside on accents, I recently saw actor Shaun Evans interviewed. He was raised in Liverpool by Irish parents. While in his role in the series Endeavour he employs standard British, his natural speech blends Irish and Liverpool accents. An accent I’ve not heard before or since, so I’m assuming it’s rare.

          1. Count Zero

            Lee, the accent of Shaun Evans is not rare. Hundreds of thousands of people across Liverpool and the Merseyside conurbation have that particular northern English accent. Have you never heard any of the Beatles talk?

            1. Lee

              I don’t recall the Beatle’s accents as being that similar to Evans’. But it’s been awhile since I listened to any of them speak. I’ll pay closer attention next time I do.

          2. PlutoniumKun

            You made me curious so I looked at an interview with Evans. He has a slightly odd Merseyside accent (maybe because he’s flattened it out after being away – the scouse accent isn’t good in England if you want a career). As a port city, Liverpool has a fascinating array of accents, its a real mix of Irish, Welsh, Cumbrian with plenty of other additions.

            If you want to see the extremes Irish accents can take, there is a funny interview here featuring Graham Norton (slightly posh West Cork accent), the O’Donavon brothers (Olympic Rowers, very strong west Cork Accent), Michael Fassbender (soft Kerry accent), along with Marion Cotilliards bafflement (you can also add in Frank Skinners strong Black Country accent to the mix).

            1. Lee

              Thanks. Your link didn’t work but I found this, which I assume is the one you’re referring to.

              https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vmrYlnE9GAI

              “A people divided by a common language.” More so than even here in the U.S. to my ear. But then, I’m more familiar with variations here, and would assume it’s the same for natives over there.

              I recently watched a Belgian program (Professor T) in which French and Dutch speaking characters were chattering away, each in their respective tongues, with complete mutual comprehension. This was fictional but I assume it accurately reflects the reality to some considerable degree in multilingual nations.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Yes, thats the one, sorry for the bad link.

                There was also a show – I can’t recall the name – it was popular in the UK, based in Denmark, but much of the action revolved around Danes and Swedes ‘sort of’ understanding each other when speaking.

                The way languages sort of merge together when people are in proximity always fascinates me. Sometimes of course, they are sister languages, but sometimes people just absorb another tongue. For years I thought Vietnamese and Cantonese were related as more than one Vietnamese person told me that they could communicate with Cantonese neighbours. Turns out they are not related at all, but there has been so much historical overlap that people can ‘sort of’ understand each other.

                One of my favourite travel books is Patrick Leigh Fermor’s ‘A Time of Gifts’, about his walk across Europe as a teenager in the 1930’s. He beautifully describes the way languages across Europe sort of bleed together over distance, such that he could gradually learn the various languages and dialects as he slowly walked from the Netherlands towards Greece.

                1. Lee

                  The TV show you refer to I believe is The Bridge, which I saw, followed by the American and finally the U.K. version, The Tunnel.

              1. PlutoniumKun

                Poshest Black Country accent I’ve ever heard. For me, the nicest Black Country accent is Lenny Henry’s, very Dudley (Dud-loii). Frank Skinner is from the other end. Further up north is yam yam land.

                Frank Skinner has a great story of going to a small music gig in Tipton, in the heart of the Black Country. The lead singer called out ‘Tipton, are you ready to rock?’ And then looking perplexed when the crowd yelled back ‘Yyyyammmm’.

        2. PlutoniumKun

          Brad Pitt actually made a good attempt at an Irish travellers accent in that, even though he obviously wasn’t taking it too seriously.

        3. aleph_0

          Snatch released while I was in Japan, and I had a Japanese friend who was obsessed with Brad Pitt. She went to see the movie while she was vacationing overseas, and when she came back, she told me a sad story about not being able to understand him at all in the movie. I thought it was weird since her English was ok.

          Later, I had a good laugh in the theater when I saw the movie and understood what happened.

          The Japanese subtitler took the extra step of having the subtitles degenerate into garbage symbols, instead of words, at the end of the longer rants.

          Best use of subtitles I’ve ever seen.

    4. Tom Lewis

      I trained intensively to be a broadcaster, and in my career trained others, and instructed at three universities. Speaking for mass media is a craft that must be learned and practiced. I, too, thought I was going deaf watching movies until I realized that most young actors have no training at all, and think that all they have to do is talk. (Like Internet posters who think all you have to do to be a writer is make a record of your stream on consciousness without regard to spelling, grammar or diction.) Many old school actors came out of classical theater, and learned early on that you can’t just talk. When they are required by the scene to mumble, you can still hear every syllable.

      1. NotTimothyGeithner

        Besides nepotism, it seems like everyone is a celebrity’s kid, two thoughts jump to mind:

        -the decline of movie comedies and smaller movies. Jokes require lines to be delivered clearly. If not, they don’t hit, hence individual lines don’t have pay offs. Less studios making movies is one problem, and then a move towards, movies for foreign audiences. Hollywood movies aren’t made for American audiences as much as people with limited English. Do we need dialogue in Marvel movies?

        -TV not being filmed in NYC. Stage actors would have all the small parts. Not only would you have a product being produced with working stage actors, the West coast would have it as a positive competitive force.

        -outside of celebrity kids, most of the actors came up doing theatre. I feel it’s more a case of the environment becoming lax than the actors not knowing.

        1. Questa Nota

          Less charitably, those youngsters are just living and speaking their truth. A performative slide to solipsism or whatever the current term is. May need closed captioning for that, too.

        2. Lee

          Lately, with a few exceptions I don’t watch much in the way of U.S. productions. I have the impression that most British and European actors have a lot of formal training and stage experience. My most recent binge watch was all seven seasons of a Swiss series, Der Bestatter (The Undertaker) , which I highly recommend for, among other things, its very fine ensemble cast and the way it juxtaposes the deeply tragic with comic relief throughout. Also, the dialogue is clearly enunciated so that if I understood the language, I wouldn’t need subtitles.

        3. Randy

          The decline of “B” movies has hurt cinema in a way few anticipated. Look at how many famous AAA movie actors got their start in low budget “trashy” movies, not to mention all the crew who make up the bulk of movie credits. They had to learn somewhere. Disney and co. probably prefer dealing with relative nobodies who have nowhere else to go and are beholden on the corpos for a job, but that means the products they’re putting out suck.

        4. Anthony Stegman

          Here is my humble opinion. Because of the expansion of streaming services globally there is a dearth of talented actors. In order to mask the poor acting it is necessary to crank up the non-verbal action. I measure acting talent by how well lines are delivered. Those lines need to be heard clearly.

      2. PlutoniumKun

        I wonder if there is something specific about the US training of actors? Its very noticeable that for the past couple of decades dozens of British, Irish and Australian actors have seemlessly flowed into the US, frequently playing Americans, while it usually only happens the other way when a local production wants a big Hollywood name for commercial reasons. In Ireland people find it quite odd that a Limerick woman like Ruth Negga can with apparent ease get parts playing African American women over what I assume are thousands of perfectly good American actresses.

        1. Basil Pesto

          Of course, there’s no ‘right way’ to act, especially for film where the technical requirements are different as determined by the requirements of the medium compared to theatre. Beyond that though, different actors use different techniques to get where they need to go, and an actor can achieve (in)credible results by speaking at normal volume or even sotto voce with non-stage diction on set, and that has been the case for a very long time by now. If this is handled correctly on the technical side, the viewer will never notice. In fact I gather than many actors seem to cherish the ability to speak at ‘normal’ or lower volumes in film: by not having to focus on their voice, projection, and the extra physical effort that entails, they can focus or redirect those efforts to other aspects of the performance – and because the camera generally leaves no room to hide and every little detail is captured compared to the stage, being able to refocus that energy or attention can be important.

          But if an actor is going to do that, the Director and the sound crew have to be aware of it and plan accordingly. If the boom, the recordist, etc are on the ball, then talk is indeed all the actor, young or old, has to do – all they should have to do – in order to be verbally understood. More to the point, I’m way more likely to tolerate a bit of iffy enunciation, especially if it’s the price to pay for an interesting performance, than some clumsy ADR after the fact (the “we’ll fix it in post” approach), especially if it has incongruously rounded diction. Blaming the actors is an extremely lame and unconvincing take on this problem: back-in-my-dayism with little basis in reality. “Quieter” modes of film acting with less than perfect diction simply do not coincide with the advent of the problem as described in the article. I mean, look at Shaw here, he’s practically slurring his words – he might have even been drunk on set – and it doesn’t matter in the least, for various reasons (in the same way that not understanding every single line of a Shakespeare play or film doesn’t – shouldn’t – impinge on our enjoyment of it). And do you think that was his to-the-cheap-seats voice? The idea that that method just peaked and now as a consequence we are dealing with a plague of incomprehensible whisper-drawlers is unserious. There’s also no shortage of contemporary actors who have worked in theatre either, including Tom Hardy whom the original article seeks out for special ridicule. In fact, it turns out that making Tom Hardy intelligible is not especially hard, actually. But in the case of Locke it’s going to be technically easier to capture all the vocal detail because when your one set is a car, it’s going to be very easy to rig up mics in an unobtrusive way. With a lack of set-ups too, it’s something you can presumably take your time with, especially important in a film where dialogue is action.

          The problem is real, though, as I’ve come across it myself and my hearing is fine. Besides the “blame the actors” hot take the article is very interesting. Notably, it also seems to me that the problem occurs more frequently in big budget pictures. I suspect what we might be getting at least during production is a far more lower stakes version of the old aviation safety problem: a lack of willingness to upset the chain of command or rock the boat even if something is obviously wrong. That’s probably even more likely if it’s a sound guy dealing with a big star actor or director (there are no rock & roll boom operators out there, although there probably should be)

          I also wonder if it depends on where the film is made/crewed. I’ve seen the importance of good sound recording hammered into aspiring director types here, but maybe it depends on the school too. As I said, it doesn’t seem to be as big an issue in productions outside of America, or maybe even Hollywood, though.

    5. John

      Full agreement by another grumpy senior who would return elocution, as well as grammar, rhetoric, and logic to the curriculum.

    6. lordkoos

      After playing rock n roll in bands for years and being an old fart, I was assuming it was hearing damage, but it seems I’m not the only one that can’t hear the dialog clearly.

      Part of the problem might be technical, I’ve noticed with some movies if you are playing the sound back on a stereo system while the movie is encoded in 5:1 surround sound the dialogue can become a bit lost. Making sure the audio output is set for stereo rather than surround may help in some cases.

    7. Stephen the tech critic

      Cinema sound quality has tended to lag other sound quality in audio reproduction applications because cinemas have unique challenges and a complicated history.

      In the old days, syncing the video and audio required putting the audio on the same film as the video, which substantially compromised its fidelity. and introduced a major source of variance between cinemas with different kinds equipment. Digital formats have resolved this problem for good, but the physical screen itself has a profound effect on the sound passing through it which requires significant high frequency equalization boost to counteract, albeit very crudely.

      These problems led to widely varying performance characteristics between cinemas and eventually standardization. In the late ’70s, the X-curve standard was developed to try to reduce this variance. The standard was highly beneficial for its time, however, also based on flawed science. Various developments since (including replacement of human projectionists with flawed computer) since have accentuated the problem, but the standard has not been updated (excepting minor stuff).

      I’m trying to keep this short, but the consequences of the flawed standard are numerous and complicated. For example, I can argue that X-curve calibrated cinemas typically emphasize mid-range relative to treble and bass when compared to the monitor systems used for TV and music content. Psychoacoustically, the relatively weak bass and treble in a cinema causes sounds to perceived as “whimpy”, a problem that is exacerbated by viewers’ (and director’s) expectations of bigger sound from a bigger screen. This directly affects a variety of mixing decisions, not just Equilization decisions. For example, dialogue is more mid-range focused, and so is likely to sound louder relative to other elements when listenining in an X-curve cinema compared to a home system. It also tends to make movie mixes sound even more hyped and bombastic at home than at the cinema.

      This problem is completely separate from the fact that most movies are made assuming non-casual viewing with wide dynamic range available. The aim is for immersion or “realism” (for some definition of real). At home, due to limitations of the playback system, background noise, consideration of neighbors, or simply preference, the viewing may be more casual, but the mix is not at its best in such an environment. Technically, both media formats and playback devices support dynamic range compression (DRC), but the required metadata is often not present on the disk or in the stream. Studios instead prefer to remix the soundtrack “for home viewing”, but at best these mixes are only a partial solution to the quirks introduced in the original mix, and it’s often difficult to do a single high quality remix that retains the full dynamic impact of the original while remaining suitable for casual viewing.

      A recent effort was made to introduce a new cinema calibration standard, based on research correlating subjective listener preference with characteristics of anechoic chamber measurements. This effort failed for what some would argue were mainly political reasons. Indeed, the industry has powerful incumbents whose product(s) are sometimes mandated by the standards themselves. (Surprise surprise!) However, I believe another reason is simply that the improvement was not enough. Veterans of the industry were not interested in a “scientifically verified” marginal improvement which is also accompanied by substantial alteration of the presentation that requires some retraining. If the improvement were much greater, the retraining would be easier to justify.

      I am highly opinionated on this matter because I think I know how to solve this or make a big dent in it. I don’t have “the science” in the corner. What I have is (I believe) a superior theoretical paradigm and a novel algorithm, which I developed after carefully studying but ultimately giving up on the existing one. I’m focused on small rooms now since they are accessible to me, but I’m hopeful my approach to scale up to cinema size rooms. I’ll also say that the degree of improvement is likely to be widely noticed and appreciated, which is not something that can be said for most audio technology that’s been over-hyped over recent years. Optimistically, it could potentially benefit every art-form which relies on sound reproduction.

  5. russell1200

    “preferred advice to be given on the basis of observed data”.

    This is exactly how the American Sherman tank went from being best tank out there (Africa 1942) to average combatant. The group that reviewed tank needs worked off of what was happening in the field, not on intelligence reports received of new advances, or projections of what was likely to happen. So when the Germans up gunned their to the long 75mm (or greater in the case of the relatively rare Tigers), the Americans didn’t think about doing anything about it until they already had significant feedback. The solution they had in the works (up gunning to a 76mm gun) was only modestly better than the 75mm they had, and was not sufficient to deal with the increased armor that the new German tanks had.

    By the time they came out with a significantly better weapon, the war was almost over.

    The British meanwhile wedged a bigger gun into some of the Shermans we gave them (77mm high velocity 17 pounder) and thus at least had that part of the problem somewhat addressed.

    All the powers were at one point or another caught out by improvements made by the enemy. But the slow response of the Americans might be the most extreme.

    1. Bill Smith

      It was a lot more complicated than that. And while the M4 was a good tank, in my opinion it was never the ‘best’ tank out there. And ‘best’ can mean a lot of things. Best gun, most armor, easiest to maintain, etc.?

      During World War 2, US Army doctrine called for US tank destroyers (M10 76mm gun, M18 76mm gun, M36 90mm gun), towed anti tank guns, and early on, motor gun carriages to engage enemy tanks. Not US Army tanks such as the M4 (Sherman) in its various versions. They were considered infantry support vehicles. Yeah, looks odd now.

      There was an up gunned version of the Sherman with a 76mm gun. It had crappy non-armor (high explosive) ammunition, which is what the US tanks mostly used as infantry support vehicles. Thus in the field, a lot of US Army personal did not want the 76 gun version of the Sherman. They had the tank destroyers, towed anti tank guns, fighter bombers and artillery to handle the German tanks instead.

      And separate from the gun, was the type of anti armor shell available to be used. For instance, the T4 (M93) HVAP shot which was only available in a limited numbers had about a 50% increase in amour penetration than other types of anti armor rounds.

      Finally, i agree that the newer German tanks where much improved in most ways but there where not that many of them and one way they where not improved was in maintainability.

      1. PlutoniumKun

        There is an old saying in architecture that ‘all buildings are predictions, and all predictions are wrong’. Much the same I suppose could apply to military hardware. Even when they work, they rarely do the job intended. WWII was a particular nightmare for any military planner, as even before the war it was absolutely clear to all planners that all previous assumptions about how to carry out a land war were redundant in the face of the then modern tanks and air support. The only problem was, nobody had any clue what the war would look like and every military went into the war with ideas that rarely survived combat. The Soviets probably knew better than anyone else thanks to their little adventures in Finland and Nomonhan.

        Its often forgotten for example, that the T-34 was a disaster when it was first used – it took a good 18 months for the Soviets to turn it into the very effective weapon it became. And that the Soviet heavy tanks were very effective – probably significantly better than the Tiger II or anything the western allies had. And Tiger II was never intended to be used the way it was – it was designed as a heavy breakthrough tank, but of course there were no more breakthroughs by the time they rolled off the production line.

        As for the Sherman, for all the criticisms it got, it still ended up on the winning side, so it obviously did something right. While it was obviously a mistake for the US to focus so much on a somewhat flammable medium tank when everyone else was realising the virtues of up armouring, its very easy to criticise in hindsight. On a continental scale war, quantity is its own quality, and the Sherman certainly achieved that. But you could also argue of course that it was the overlooked and unglamorous Stugs and M-10’s and the like that were the real workhorses.

  6. fresno dan

    So in my bar foray yesterday, Janet was there, and she told me that she had ANOTHER newborn in her family she wants to visit (north, somewhere north, east, south of San Francisco).
    So Janet doesn’t stay with the family, but a friend when she is up north (?no room at the relatives house?). The friend informed her that she can’t stay unless she is vaccinated (against Covid)
    Janet’s response is that she will “not live in fear.”
    The conversation moved on to far more relevant issues, like how this bar always is running short of Chardonnay despite her and Shirley being 2 glasses a day Chardonnay addicts…I took the anecdote equanimously as I was on my second Jack Daniels and diet coke. I’ve decided to have a couple of shots every time I read about politics, as it seems to put it all in perspective…whoops, time for my second shot

    1. eg

      I have two doses of vaccine and will line up with alacrity once the booster is available for my age group (in 10 days or so).

      And I’m not “living in fear” either. Where do these weird narratives come from, anyway?

  7. The Rev Kev

    To add to Basil Pesto’s link to that tweet – yes, a lot of businesses are feeling hard done by as they are the ones dealing with vaccination mandates but it was businesses here in Oz that demanded that we open up the country to let the pandemic in. Why? Because they wanted their low-earning foreign workers, rich international students and international tourists. And it is not just me saying this but Scotty from Marketing came right out and said almost exactly the same as to why he was opening the country.

    Before Operation Let ‘er Rip commenced, big business had a full page ad in the newspapers supporting this and there were scores of logos of some of the biggest businesses in Oz on it. So if they are having to deal with the consequences for their actions, I will shed no tear. And it wasn’t just the big businesses from the top end of town either. I have seen many interviews of small business owners who demanded an end to all restrictions as they were suffering. Yeah, they were OK with people dying because they wanted their profits to keep flowing. And it was before they opened it all up.

    I will finish this comment with a report of something I saw on TV this morning. They had some guy talking and you could see that he was straight PMC and not just some boofhead off the streets. His big idea was that as Omicron is replacing Delta where it is cutting loose and it is only like the flu if you get it (I know, I know), then if we let it in and spread near and far, then it would totally replace Delta in only a few months and when it ran out of people to infect, the Pandemic would be over. And I bet that he is not alone with this idea.

    1. Pat

      Does anyone but me listen to these it is the beginning of the end/no big deal just get vaccinated pronouncements occasionally flash on virgin sacrifice? Sometimes I see them holding the knife over someone on the stone alter, sometimes tossing someone into the volcano. I am not sure what god is being appeased, but the magical thinking is clear.

    2. svay

      Before Operation Let ‘er Rip commenced

      It’s an aside, and I know you’re not alone in this, but what led the NC community to decide the virus/pandemic is female? Some things like ships are traditionally so, but to me, the obvious and natural wording (though not policy!) for covid would be “Let it rip”, and ‘er seems a conscious and deliberate, but unexplained, choice.

      1. Basil Pesto

        I doubt it is a conscious choice: the idiom in English has always been: “let ‘er rip”. If you were to say “let it rip” you might be met with incomprehension or people would think you’re talking about a fart instead.

        1. svay

          Well, I’m not sure about that. I was born and bred in England, and ‘Let it rip’ sounds much more natural to me, while ‘er or her sound odd. What’s more, the link you provided gives several examples of it before giving examples of her or ‘er:

          I replaced the spark plug, so go ahead and let it rip so we can see if there’s any difference.
          We’ve spent so long working on this ad campaign that I’m excited to finally let it rip.
          Wow, did you see that kick? He really let it rip.
          When I’m writing a first draft, I like to just let it rip and not worry about typos or grammar.

          Mind you, the examples given are all from Farlex Dictionary of Idioms from Farlex, Inc, a US company, or McGraw-Hill’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions, plus this from The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer:

          let her rip
          Allow an engine to go as fast as possible. An American colloquialism dating from the first half of the nineteenth century, this term presumably was first applied to locomotive or steamship engines. The American journalist Park Benjamin recorded it about 1840: “Another phrase, which often glides in music from the lip, is one of fine significance and beauty, ‘Let her rip!’”

          So perhaps it’s a US thing, down to those ships again. Thanks for helping enlighten me!

          1. Noone from Nowheresville

            Let er rip makes me think of Larry the Cable Guy’s Get er done spiel from the Blue Collar comedy tour.

          2. WobblyTelomeres

            “I was born and bred in England”

            Since we’re nit-picking, were you born then bred? Or perhaps the other way around, or would that be your parents? Not having a bloodline worthy of mention, I am confused. How extensive is this breeding? Aren’t there problems with inbreeding, hemophilia, Snopey foreheads, and such? I know Trump breeds with Eastern European stock, presumably to avoid these, um, issues, although I’m not convinced it is working. Being in the NADS (h/t ambrit), inbreeding is a very real concern here, or should be, according to my more urban acquaintances. Do y’all have some authority that examines the family tree, ensures sufficient genetic distance, and approves the breeding? If not, I may finally understand Brexit.

            I have similar confusions with raised vs reared. I made the mistake of correcting my great aunt once when she spoke of having raised three children. I asked, “Isn’t that reared three children?” She replied, “No, honey, we’re not Catholic.”

            1. svay

              1340 Hampole Pr. Consc. 4209 In þe first he sal be born and bredde, And in þe secunde be nuryst. 1542 Udall Erasm. Apoph. 113 a, Where he was born and breden. Ibid. 133 b, In the same Isle born, breden, and brought vp. 1580 Baret Alv. B 1165 We are so borne and bredde of nature. 1601 Shakes. Twel. N. i. ii. 22, I was bred and borne Not three houres trauaile from this very place. 1732 Law Serious C. xviii. (ed. 2) 326 Born and bred in families that have no Religion. 1875 Jowett Plato (ed. 2) I. 288 He was born and bred in your house.

          3. Sailor Bud

            A thing to understand about the American version as I ever did is that it’s effectively genderless anyway, at least that use, with the dropped haitch: “let ‘er rip!” It could be said about a fart, an engine, a chainsaw, a machine of almost any type on startup and, I suppose, anything that rips.

            1. Andrew

              My brother had an old sawmill, a live edge slab (board with the bark on) is run through an edger saw to make a square board. His three boys have a rock and roll band called “Rip The Edge”. These guys are awesome!

            1. Janie

              “let ‘er rip”: the final r and the initial r run together better than it rip (the t would become silent, as in French). Let him rip would be even worse.

              1. Foy

                Yep, this. I think it’s just that its easier to pronounce, definitely for an Aussie. I’m trying both and let ‘er rip is easier. Us Aussies are lazy talkers, we have a tendency to drop/blur anything not required to understand what we are saying

                1. svay

                  I’ve been trying both, and for me, Let it rip seems to come a tad more naturally and easily – when pronounced, as many Brits would, with a hint of an h or glottal stop, or nothing at all, instead of the t.

        2. Tom Bradford

          I would suggest ‘let ‘er rip’ is vernacular born among engineers (in its broader sense than just ‘engineer’ as American for train-driver, tho’ such would be a large sub-group of the larger set.) Engineers working with engines of all types inevitably regard them as female in nature being in need of constant attention and cossetting, often contrary and sulky for no obvious reason and, of course, something for which only hands-on manipulation will achieve anything.

          1. Anthony Stegman

            I think the phrase “let ‘er rip” is due to laziness. It takes more effort to clearly enunciate “let it rip”. The same applies to “get ‘er done” vs “get it done”. There may also be a geographical component to it.

          2. ArvidMartensen

            Used to “let er rip”. Since I was a kid, and that was a loong time ago
            Can’t believe so much discussion around this.

            What about a discussion on why people have become things and things have become people.
            eg in the press all the time
            “the person that…..”
            “The company who ….”
            Everywhere. What does this say to the sociology of how we humans see ourselves in the world now? Have we all accepted we are just cogs in some machine?
            And that companies have rights due to having feelings?

    3. Tom Stone

      Rev, there are implicit assumptions that the corona Virus is like Measles, that it won’t continue to mutate and evolve, and that the “Vaccines” are sterilizing and confer immunity.
      The assumptions are pervasive in the MSM and amongst our beloved reptilian overlords…

      1. Mikel

        If this mutation doesn’t show idiots how much this is NOT like the flu, then suckers already live in a fake “meta” BS dreamworld.
        It seems to be a step in the evolution of the virus – to specifically evade certain therapies.
        But let the people who think they are invincible see if they can make it to the greek letter “z”.
        Short-term thinking.

    4. Mikel

      Omicron is a next phase mutation and they don’t know where this nightmare of frankenstein spike proteins is headed or ends.

      1. Young

        What if the mutation next up, PI (after Omicron), becomes as deadly as Delta and as fast transmittable as Omicron?

    5. eg

      Thanks for the report from “the lucky country” Rev. Up here in the land reputedly rejected by the British Empire as the location of its penal colony because it would constitute cruel and unusual punishment, I can assure you the bought-and-paid-for mouthpieces of business are neither better informed nor any less assiduous on behalf of their rapacious masters.

      One nuance that I have noticed here in Canada in particular, however: the loudest cries of “open up everything because ‘muh profitz!’” come from the petit bourgeois and the local gentry, NOT the really big, influential firms, which are also reliably cozy oligopolies if not outright closely held (usually via dual-class share structures) family conglomerates. Presumably the latter feel more assured of their continued dominance of our economy regardless of government responses to pandemic?

  8. Jason Boxman

    How ‘Shadow’ Foster Care Is Tearing Families Apart

    So the entire story is disturbing, but riddle me this:

    The federal jury trial over Brian Hogan’s due-process rights was scheduled for May 10, 2021. Jackson and Wijewickrama, along with Ron Moore, a retired district attorney, and D. Brandon Christian, the in-house counsel for the Union County sheriff’s office, were up against the department’s counsel from Womble Bond Dickinson, a large international law firm with offices in North Carolina. “Four oddballs,” Jackson called her team. It had taken her more than three years to get to this moment, and they had spent $400,000 preparing for the case. Jackson had never litigated a case in federal court.

    So how does a dirt poor county that’s being sued because it’s violating parents’ due process to save money it doesn’t have afford an international law firm?

    This September, Jackson and her legal team settled Heaven’s case against the Department of Social Services out of court for $450,000, minus attorneys’ fees, just as Heaven was signing her first lease in Auburndale, Fla.

    That’s no small thing for a broke county. What gives?

    1. griffen

      That is one hellish story after another. Bureaucratic ignorance or incompetence is one thing, but legal negligence in the cases of minors is quite another. The article I finally read was from Pro Publica, and it was based primarily in Cherokee County. I always saw the mileage signs for Murphy when leaving Manteo, some 25 to 30 years ago.

      The main lawyer in the above, Jackson, deserves special recognition. There is no grand settlement fee at the end of this journey, I suppose. This story is also deeply saddening for this native Tar Heel.

      1. jonboinAR

        One of the most horrifying stories I’ve read in a long while. The gross negligence by the county authorities, for years, toward the situation of those girls is unbelievable. They were treating human beings, children, in a way analogous to the mail carriers who, overwhelmed by the work load perhaps, throw a load of mail into a ravine. The older one is slightly luckier through most of the account, having, by mere chance, no doubt, been sent to a somewhat stable environment. The younger one, though, oh, dear God! From a small child, living wherever she can, however she can, moved around by the county as it suits their paperwork requirements, or ignored, let slip through administrative cracks for years at a time, and going all through school this way, going through all of grade school like this, and surviving. It’s absolutely a testament to human endurance.

        Then, I’m rooting for her. She’s made it this far, finally with a champion after all these years, an honest lawyer who’s figuring out what’s going on. I’m like, she’s gonna make it out! She’s gonna make it out! She’s grown, can take care of herself. She’s at that perfect age where the horizons are all open. She can go on and become whatever she wants to be. Then she says she feels like she’s living her parent’s life all over again, and it turns out she has a baby and a boyfriend who works in construction. I’m like, fuuu##! God, it’s just a friggin cycle.

        A major source for the problems described in this story is drugs. Drug use by adults seem to be at or near the beginning of each of the children’s accounts here. The individual accounts, while located geographically in one area, seem repeatable across the US. The most destructive drugs at this time appear to be heroin and meth. Their rampant abuse make parents entirely useless and childhood a chaotic hell for many children like the ones described here. Somehow, as a nation, we have got to do something about that.

  9. diptherio

    If I ever get to see Dimash live, I will scream like it’s 1964 and I’m one of those girls on the Ed Sullivan Show.

  10. Bandit

    Some experts suggest Omicron variant may have evolved in an animal host

    Is anyone else getting tired of reading about “some experts” even if identified as having some “credentials”? It just numbs the mind to think how many thousands of times this intro is used as if it actually renders every thing they say as having any value whatsoever. It is my experience that most “experts” are nothing of the kind just because they have a degree and freely spout off, especially if they are getting paid to pontificate on one issue or another.

    Medicine and science have taken a credibility beating this last couple of covid years due to experts being bought off or threatened if they fail to support the current narrative or follow the mandates. The loss of credibility in the medical field is going to be devastating when people actually realize they have been cruelly sacrificed to the alter of big pharma and have literally been forced to forfeit their bodily and Constitutional rights. Many will never trust their cowardly doctors again. My attitude is fuck the experts; they seldom if ever represent the truth or facts if they get in the way of their promotion or funding. The true “experts” are heroes who dare to speak the truth to power even as they know the consequences to their livelihood and reputation.

    1. Charger01

      Thomas Frank shares your, ehm, earthy sentiments. The failure of experts was one of his key points in ” Rendezvous with Oblivion” and touched on “Listen, liberal”

    2. PlutoniumKun

      The problem is not ‘experts’, the problem is the people the media anoint as ‘experts’.

      At least one prominent virologist who is constantly on UK media has been consistently wrong on nearly every prediction he has made over the past year and a half, but is still regularly on the BBC and so on – I believe GM here made a less than complimentary reference to him a couple of days ago. Apart from his credentials and his TV friendly appearance, you can only assume there is a reason he is asked all the time while his somewhat more questioning colleagues (usually, those who have being making the right calls) gradually get shut out of the narrative.

      1. Mantid

        OMG Yes. I can’t get over how MSM news has retired generals from failed wars (Afghanistan, Vietnam, etc.) giving us their expert opinion. What rubbish. They lost the freaking war!!

    3. Winston S

      100% this, a very useful, though deeply depressing heuristic. I find it to be true everywhere I look at work as well. I guess this sort of behaviour is nothing more than what you should expect of the deliberately constructed cultural hegemony, in a society that operates according to the meritocracy delusion, and where people delude themselves to be true believers.

      ‘It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.‘

    4. Carpediem

      The word expert is misused.
      It should be applied only to STEM professions.
      There is no such thing as an expert in other branches, only a bunch of people with opinions.

  11. The Rev Kev

    “Both UN Official and US Amb. to UN Warn Israel Squatter Violence toward Palestinians is Escalating”

    This should be under the heading of ‘No S*** Sherlock.’ This goes on all the time and recently I saw images of settlers trying to destroy the equipment of a children’s playground for Palestinian children. If you look for the stories about what the settlers are doing – aided and abetted by the Israeli army – there are plenty to be found. Below are a handful of article titles for what is being done to the Palestinians in just the past week. Not the past year but just the past week-

    ‘Hundreds of Settlers Invade Joseph’s Tomb, Dozens of Palestinians Injured’
    ‘Israeli Soldiers Raid Jordan Valley Community, Seize Vehicles’
    ‘We Were Eating, and Then Soldiers Arrived’: Israeli Military Probes Alleged Attack on Palestinians’
    ‘Settlers Storm Al-Aqsa Mosque Compound Under Israeli Forces Protection’
    ‘Palestinian Farmers Critically Wounded During West Bank Settler Attack’
    ‘Israeli Settlers Burn Fifty Olive Trees, Installed Two Mobile Homes, Near Hebron’
    ‘On Shabbat, Settlers Swarm Palestinian Villages With Clubs. They Pull People Out of Their Homes’
    ‘Israeli Bulldozers Uproot Dozens of Trees Near Hebron’
    ‘Palestinians Slam Israel Over Mosque Demolition in Occupied West Bank’
    ‘Palestinians Fight to Save Jerusalem Cemetery From Being Destroyed for Israeli Park’

  12. griffen

    The FT diagram is an interesting walk down a potholed memory lane. Very curious to notice the absence of AIG. AIG Financial Product’s strategy* was to go boldly into insuring AAA**-rated CDO(s) for mere basis points, on the notion that nothing bad will ever, not ever happen. It did not go very well. But it helped if friends at the New York Fed were kind, or so I’ve read.

    *By the way, is Hank Greenberg still living? It appears he is still above ground.

    **Per the NRSRO that issued ratings, just opinions. Nothing investors should have relied on or even remotely question that structures were thoroughly tested / so not a rubber stamp.

      1. Tom Stone

        Rev, Baldwin is full of shit.
        The pistol used is an Italian copy of a Colt’s single action revolver.
        You can make one go bang by hitting the hammer HARD if the hammer and attached firing pin are resting on a live cartridge ( For safety reasons these are effectively five shooters), or by cocking the hammer and pulling the trigger.
        If the sear is broken or the trigger is held back, cocking the hammer and letting go will also do the job.
        Baldwin violated the basic safety rules of gun handling.
        Those rules have been part of every firearms course I have taken since I took Hunter Safety at the age of ten.
        He is guilty of Manslaughter, given how reckless his behavior was I would vote to convict him of voluntary manslaughter rather than involuntary manslaughter.

        1. svay

          Maybe so, but wouldn’t the armourer and assistant director deserve an equal or parallel charge for allowing him to be be given a loaded weapon with a call of ‘cold gun’, if that is what happened?

          1. Pat

            IMO, yes. I would also include the executive producers in charges. But this press tour is about Baldwin trying to get himself off the hook, which should not be allowed.

          2. Tom Stone

            NO!
            Absolutely NOT.
            The person handling the firearm is the responsible party.
            Period, full stop.
            Firearms are inherently dangerous tools.
            Always assume every firearm is loaded.
            Never point ANY firearm at anything you are not willing to destroy.
            Keep your finger off of the trigger until you are ready to shoot.
            ALWAYS clearly identify your target and what lays beyond it.

            1. svay

              The person handling the firearm is the responsible party.
              Then what is the armourer’s job? I assumed – and I could be totally wrong – they are ultimately responsible for gun safety, and that is their central raison d’être.

              Period, full stop.
              Even when the actor is eleven years old, as was the case with the same armourer not so long before this incident, IIRR?

        2. TimH

          Came here to say that… you said it better. Also, when passing a safe/unloaded handgun to a person, the handgun is put in a condition where visual inspection shows that it is safe before touching it. Revolver: empty cylinder swung out. Semi: mag out, slide locked back and empty chamber visible though ejection port. Modify procedure for blanks, but nethertheless…

          1. Janie

            Yes, rules taught to small children and repeated every time guns are present: all guns are loaded and never point it at anything you don’t intend to shoot.

        3. sd

          A very small number of people are responsible for guns on set. And I’m sorry but actors are absolutely not one of those people.

          The AD is responsible for set safety.
          The Armourer is responsible for guns.
          The Prop Master is responsible for props – which a gun is.
          Special FX is responsible for muzzle flashes, sparks, and making things look like they’ve been hit by gunfire.

          Actors are responsible for showing up and remembering their blocking and their lines.

          1. TimH

            Sorry, but no. Everyone is reponsible for safety in the immediate environment that they operate in at an place of work. The job titles you name may be the ones accountable for it, but that doesn’t devolve responsibility from everyone else.

            It should be reflex to check a firearm for safety when handed one.

              1. svay

                That’s a very interesting comment, especially as I seem to remember you’re familiar with movie-making and what goes on on set. Could you elaborate?

                1. Basil Pesto

                  don’t want to speak for sd who I’m sure knows a lot better than I do but people projecting confidently about the Baldwin case saying he’s guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter with reference to gun safety need to wind their neck in.

                  The rules of gun safety described above may very well obtain in ‘the real world’ but filmmaking operates on safety hierarchies that are very different and sd lays them out clearly. The actor is not the worker that is or should be ultimately responsible for the safety of the gun they have to handle in the scene. These hierarchies are usually no-bullshit and taken extremely seriously on set, which is why incidents like this are as rare as they are. I’m not sure about the US but I know that in Australia the armourer is legally responsible for firearm safety on-set, not the actors. The actors are nevertheless taught how to safely handle their firearms by armourers (I have attended a similar training seminar myself). It’s possible Baldwin erred in responsibly handling his weapon but unlikely that he will face a manslaughter charge on this basis.

                  The reason for this, I suspect, is that the actor has his own job to do and worrying about whether the gun they’re firing is safe is not one of them, hence there is a break with usual firearm safety protocols and responsibility is delegated to other members of the crew instead, whom the actors needs and should be able to trust. Again, this protocol usually works (and again, don’t get me wrong, actors shouldn’t be naive to on-set firearms and should regularly be subject to brief safety courses explaining the dangers and the importance of good on-set safety practices in pre-production, as I’ve explained). An actor handling a gun in a scene possibly needs to believe that he’s handling a deadly weapon – harder to do when the actor is checking it constantly between takes and side-eying the gun during takes while he wonders “wait, did I really check it properly?”, which is why in the extremely specific, heighted instance of film sets, this responsibility is delegated to others. Very rarely, as with rust, this will go wrong, thereby underlining the importance of the established safety protocols. Again, the actor, when in the scene, will almost always wants to think that the gun he is holding is able to kill someone. It’s probably a bad idea to delegate ultimate on-set safety responsibility to that guy.

                  That may sound like fanciful artsy bullshit but it is what it is. If they don’t feel like they’re handling a deadly weapon, people on the internet who think they are experts on acting because they’ve seen a few movies will hop online and opine with uninformed nonsense. Actors are sensitive types.

                  That somebody who goes by the professional title of ‘armourer’ should be responsible for on-set safety and not… an actor, should be an axiomatically straightforward concept.

                  There was a similar recent case in Australia where a stunt performer was killed by a shotgun with a blank cartridge fired at a range of 1 metre. Various stories can be seen here:

                  https://www.nme.com/en_au/news/music/coronial-inquest-into-gunshot-death-of-bliss-n-eso-music-video-stuntman-begins-2925470

                  https://www.news.com.au/entertainment/celebrity-life/celebrity-deaths/inquest-told-shotgun-that-killed-exninja-warrior-stuntman-on-film-set-not-tested-by-production-crew/news-story/df5f760c41dafdc44bc2da6e010333d3

                  https://thenewdaily.com.au/entertainment/music/2017/01/24/actor-death-wake-up-call-bliss-n-eso/

                  https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/jan/24/bliss-n-eso-shooting-johann-ofner-killed-by-gun-that-was-loaded-with-blanks

                  https://www.nme.com/en_au/news/music/coronial-inquest-into-gunshot-death-of-bliss-n-eso-music-video-stuntman-begins-2925470

                  Note that some of those stories don’t even mention the stunt performer who fired the gun, and the rest only mention him once. Needless to say, the stunt performer who fired the gun in that instance was not one of the most prominent actors of his generation. He has not been held liable to date and I think it’s very unlikely that he will be (again with the disclaimer that laws and regulations vary between countries)

                  1. svay

                    Pretty much what I thought, though I’ve no experience of moviemaking, and next to none with guns. I assume an actor’s primary job is their lines, delivery, body language, movements, and so on, and they may be psyching themselves up to be raging psychopaths or drunken morons – interrupting the flow to make life or death technical observations of guns might result in crummy acting and crummy judgments. On the other hand, I guessed an armourer’s primary, almost only, job is gun safety on set, with none of an actor’s ‘distractions’. I’d still like to see sd elaborate on that somewhat enigmatic “The absolute last thing you want to trust an actor to do is check their prop gun,” if only by saying ‘Yes’!

                    1. TimH

                      Exactly. It’s like saying that the driver of a bus is only one allowed to check that the passengers have seat belts fastened.

                      Show me a SAG ruling on this, or I call BS.

  13. Ghost in the Machine

    Many Severe Covid-19 Survivors Go on to Die Within a Year, Study Finds Gizmodo (Kevin W)

    I am curious what the cause of death is stated as. The numbers discussed here imply a lot of additional COVID deaths.

    1. Chip Loedyk

      I’ve been trying to find the clip from last year’s election where Biden says that anyone that presided over 200,000 American deaths doesn’t deserve to be president. Ah well. I’m sure it will come up again in ’24.

  14. The Rev Kev

    “Russian attack on Ukraine imminent?”

    Doubt it but it is clear that Putin has laid down some red lines of his own. He probably reckons that if the US would never tolerate Russian or Chinese nuclear-tipped missiles along the Canadian and Mexican borders, why should Russia tolerate US nukes along theirs. At the moment Ukrainian President Zelensky says that he would like to talk direct to Putin but that is only because he refuses to talk to the Donbass Republics. Meanwhile Russia is refusing to talk to Ukraine but will only talk to the US as they control the Ukraine and are refusing to fulfill the Minsk Protocol.

    As it is, half the Ukrainian armed forces are now stationed on the Donbass border so the Russian deployments is a direct message to the Ukrainians – as well as Washington and Brussels. The Russians would hardly seek to occupy the Ukraine as it would be horrendously expensive but they will defend the Donbass Republics if they get into trouble. So if the Ukrainian launch a third invasion of the Donbass, it might declare a no-fly zone over the Donbass and use long-range artillery, missiles and drones to degrade the invading Ukrainians and let the Donbass armies deal with the rest. Meanwhile, Russia is hardly feeling charitable to the Ukrainians when they see stories like this. And it is not the first time this has happened-

    https://www.rt.com/russia/541941-ukrainian-spies-confess-sabotage-plot/

    1. Tom Collins' Moscow Mule

      “He probably reckons that if the US would never tolerate Russian or Chinese nuclear-tipped missiles along the Canadian and Mexican borders, why should Russia tolerate US nukes along theirs.”

      At the risk of repeating what is already known . . . .

      Somehow, 6 decades later it has all the appearances of some sort of geostrategic deja vu, or perhaps merely the continuance of and the desire to fulfill longstanding policy objectives. The human players come and go, yet the game (theory) and its desired outcome(s) remains the same, apparently. Where, provocations, the probing for weaknesses and vulnerabilities, and uncovering overall potential strategic failures in the adversary become central to a larger high stakes competition on the grand chessboard with the hope of creating a new ‘baseline’, i.e., the creation of a new fixed point of reference; where, the new baseline (in reference to fulfilling longstanding geostrategic policy objectives) becomes the new normal, or new reality. Or so it seems based on past historical confrontations involving risk and uncertainty.

      “Moreover, despite America’s overwhelming nuclear preponderance, JFK, in keeping with his avowed aim to pursue a foreign policy characterized by “vigor,” had ordered the largest peacetime expansion of America’s military power, and specifically the colossal growth of its strategic nuclear forces. This included deploying, beginning in 1961, intermediate-range “Jupiter” nuclear missiles in Italy and Turkey—adjacent to the Soviet Union. That the missiles were close to the United States was, as the president conceded, immaterial: the negligible difference in flight times between Soviet Union–based ICBMs and Cuba-based missiles wouldn’t change the consequences when the missiles hit their targets, and in any event, the flight times of Soviet SLBMs were already as short as or shorter than the flight times of the missiles in Cuba would be, because those weapons already lurked in submarines off the American coast (as of course did American SLBMs off the Soviet coast). Moreover, the idea that a foreign power’s effort to counter the overwhelming strategic supremacy of the United States—a country that spends nearly as much on defense as does the rest of the world combined—ipso facto imperils America’s security is profoundly misguided.”–“The Real Cuban Missile Crisis: Everything you think you know about those 13 days is wrong.” By Benjamin Schwarz

      https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2013/01/the-real-cuban-missile-crisis/309190/

  15. Lee

    “Investors Snap Up Metaverse Real Estate in a Virtual Land Boom New York Times”

    Since I’m not going to pay the NYT one thin dime, I haven’t read the article, so I’m just drawing an inference from the headline.

    Have these maladaptives with more money than sense lost their effing minds? Surely they must see that the clue as to the what comprises the value of land and its built improvements here in the three dimensional world lies in the name: real estate. Oh well, if they are sinking their money into massless electrons displayed on a screen instead of actual housing and land, maybe there will be a bit of downward price pressure on the real stuff. Ever the optimist, me.

    1. Wukchumni

      My dad told me that in the late 60’s during the Go-Go years on Wall*Street that on account of every trade needing to be mated up with a stock certificate, it required a dedicated staff of a few people in the vault of the large company he was VP of-to continually sort things out, and it might take a few days to complete a trade if there was heavy volume…

      Fast forward to the last 40 years and there is no there anymore as far as stock certificates went, trades were all done in the ether.

      This I think brought about the nonsensical acceptance of cryptocurrency, and seeing how well that’s going, not much of a stretch in pitching virtual real estate, we’re already used to the ’emperor’s new close’ in matters financial, eh?

      1. Anthony Stegman

        I see a business opportunity in trading virtual sex for virtual money. The exchange can be made in a virtual hotel room.

    2. svay

      “The land is in the “Fashion Street” area of Decentraland’s map and Tokens.com said it would be used to host digital fashion events and sell virtual clothing for avatars.”
      https://www.reuters.com/markets/currencies/virtual-real-estate-plot-sells-record-24-million-2021-11-23/ (no paywall)

      In other words, investing money in the hope of selling something in the hope of making a profit. They’ve no more lost their effing minds than many in the ‘real’ world; indeed, their virtual crap may be a lot less detrimental than much of the real crap in the ‘real’ world!

      1. Lee

        Good point. I hadn’t thought about a corresponding reduction on resource consumption and waste production insofar as their behavior as consumers is concerned.

        I guess the thing that I find troubling is that if these people are among the decision-making elites, is that their judgements affecting others and their material problems will be skewed in detrimental ways. OTOH, and I’m making an assumption here as to the class standing of people so engaged, their mental detachment from the material difficulties experienced by most people is most likely already so significant that their new virtual hobbies will make little difference, says I who spend quite a bit of time online in front of a screen.

    3. Dave in Austin

      To paraphrase Mark Twain: “Don’t by Metaverse realestate; they’regoing to make a lot more of it.”

    4. drsteve0

      I didn’t read it either but the headline leaves me wondering how the ‘location, location, location’ mantra works with virtual real estate. Next there’ll be virtual vaccines.

  16. Tom Stone

    Like “Flutterby” turning into butterfly an “Estate Real” ( An Estate granted by the King or Sovereign) turned into “Real Estate”.
    It is a bundle of rights in the land subject to conditions and restrictions , not an absolute Estate.
    At bottom,Real Estate is not Real…

    1. eg

      It’s as real as the state apparatus that supports it, including all the police, prisons, and guns at the pointy end.

  17. Robert Hahl

    Re “Buy the dip.”

    Don’t buy till you see the whites of Warren Buffet’s eyes. I recall him on the TV in March 2009 saying it was time to buy, and it was. If things get bad enough they will probably do that again, even if they have to wheel him out.

    1. Questa Nota

      A variation is Buy when there is blood in the streets.
      In the auto industry some decades ago, a newsletter writer and investor told us in the audience that he bought after seeing the headline Dodge Main to Close about a famous auto complex. Read about that piece of history, enjoy the pictures and honk if you’ve had a pierogi.

  18. Mildred Montana

    >Can Michelle Obama lead the Democrats to victory in 2024? RT

    Betteridge’s Law: No.

    That facile dismissal aside, I have read the entire article. To give it credit, it is actually quite well-written, but is marred by nonsense like this:

    “…Michelle Obama has charisma and charm – boatloads more than [Kamala] Harris – and is hugely popular among Democratic voters (despite the fact that a recent public opinion poll somehow actually put Harris ahead of Obama by three percentage points, 13% to 10%, respectively).”

    Michelle Obama? Charisma and charm? I guess that depends on one’s definitions of those two qualities. Of course, since the writer 𝘸𝘢𝘯𝘵𝘴 Michelle to be charismatic and charming, he shrugs off poll data that “somehow” show her 𝘣𝘦𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘥 the distinctly uncharismatic and charmless Kamala (my gawd, that voice!). And in whose books (besides the writer’s) is a 10% poll rating “hugely popular”? Not to mention that if climate change concerns play a part in the 2024 presidential election, how can a woman who lives with her small family in two 8000 square feet houses (one with a 29-acre estate) possibly be considered an example for the people to follow in the fight?

    But…finally… buried at the bottom of the article is some sense—belated praise for Tulsi Gabbard:

    “…it is exactly Gabbard’s professed commitment to rid the US political system of its warmongering ways – she once called Hillary Clinton “the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption, and personification of the rot that has sickened the Democratic Party” – that prevents this woman from getting the attention she deserves.”

    There ya go. Michelle at the top, Tulsi at the bottom. This article is best read upside down.

      1. Carolinian

        From your link

        She has spent most of her time on the network chastising the Democratic Party, despite once being DNC vice-chair. In a Fox News Prime Time segment last week titled “Dems Target their Political Enemies,” she presented her own colleagues as perhaps the greatest threat to liberty in America, warning:

        You’re either with them – agreeing with them, supporting them, carrying the water for them — or you’re not. You’re either part of their team or you’re not. And if you’re not (and this is what we’re seeing happening now. It is what I’ve experienced), then they will target you, censor you, demonize you and call you a domestic terrorist and sick the attorney general on you.”

        This built on a previous interview with Steve Hilton titled “Dems have become the party of hate and division,” where she warned against the ominous “darkness” of the “far-left” party, and a Tucker Carlson segment where she claimed her party was pursuing “an intentional strategy to tear us apart based on the color of our skin.”

        To which this commenter says “right on.” Indeed I can find nothing in the article that indicates a “new” Tulsi unless people weren’t paying much attention to her in the first place. She always said she supported the “war on terror” but not regime change gambits like the Syria mess and tar baby wars like Iraq (where she served). And the later parts of the article about her supposed antigay attitudes were always used against her and, here’s guessing, the main source of the animus in 2020 and now.

        Meanwhile approved Dem politicians are fine with hundreds of thousands of dead in Syria but tick all the ID Pol boxes and so get a pass. What some of us have always said about Tulsi is not that she is perfect but that she possesses the political talent that people like Kamala so conspicuously lack. As Biden’s approvals sink into the thirties perhaps it’s time for the rightly criticized Dems to get a clue.

        1. drumlin woodchuckles

          Perhaps she is taking leisurely and well-planned revenge against the Party that conspired against her at many turns. And if Sanders remains in elective politics past his term, she may well be looking for the best opportunity to get revenge on Sanders for his studied failure to force the Debate Organizers to follow their own eligibility rules which would have required letting her onto more debates than just the counter-Harris/Buttigieg debate.

    1. Pat

      Sadly even some of the people I have convinced that Barack was indeed a terrible self serving President still harbor affection for Michelle. Among those I haven’t the adoration for Michelle is overwhelming. She is always liked more than her husband.

      If that is your experience with Democrats you know, that poll might be confusing.

      It is still a Hail Mary pass for a party sorely lacking in credible candidates, Gabbard included.

      1. Mildred Montana

        My contempt for Barack Obamboozle is without limit. Unfortunately, I’m quite sure Michelle is no better, a person of wealth and privilege who does and will do nothing. I can’t help, when I think of her, to think of Oprah Winfrey, another person of influence who uses her position to do…well, again, nothing.

        I’m not in the business of predictions, but I fear America (and other countries) are, in these tumultuous times, ready to embrace an autocrat, a demagogue who will promise—if nothing else— to solve all their problems with attractive, simplistic solutions.

        And the only such populist in America at the moment is Donald Trump.

        1. Pat

          Oh, I agree about Michele, her actual history is pretty hideous for anyone who thinks of themselve as an FDR Democrat. And along with Winfrey, the Obamas haven’t done nothing, they have been detrimental to many people in this country. (I only wish the people I knew were more like Nikkikat’s friends and acquaintances.)

          Trump is going to run away with this, unless they get their heads out of the donor’s #sses, which they won’t. Even promising and delivering on things they could do is beyond them.

          1. newcatty

            Ug, Winfrey. IIRC, her mag(rag) in her corporate empire is named “O”. I only looked at an issue once. A relative, young woman, was gifted mags by well meaning friends while hospitalized. The top stories were , paraphrasing, Can you ever forgive him, after betrayal? Is she a hoarder or just insecure? Yes, you can lose and keep that last 10 pounds off! Along with the most current fashion advice to “always be beautiful “. The arm chair pseudo psychological drivel was not just disgusting, but cruel or hurtful. Perfect bfs for Michelle and ” Obamboozle”. Remember the cool concerts in the White House. O was usually there.

      2. Anthony Stegman

        Behind every great man is a woman. As bad as Barrack Obama was as president one can be sure Michelle Obama would be worse. The same can be said comparing Bill Clinton to Hillary Clinton. Nobody should be fooled by Michelle Obama’s “charm”.

    2. mrsyk

      Team Blue hasn’t a prayer of holding the presidency even if Jesus Christ himself is resurrected and nominated to the ticket. I don’t think that the Dem leadership is bothered by this. After all, to them, election results don’t seem to matter nearly as much as the truckloads of campaign donations that come with conducting the business of elections. So the question is not “Who can defeat Trump in ’24?”, but “Who will be the most effective fund raiser (not named Bernie Sanders) in ’24?”.
      BTW, I paid $4.199 a gallon for non-ethanol gas yesterday.

      1. Wukchumni

        I know 3 or 4 Mexican-American fellows named Jesus, but i’ve never seen nor met a WASP’y American Jesus, and why is that, too blasphemous?

        1. PlutoniumKun

          As the old joke goes, ‘If Jesus was a jew, how come he had a Mexican name?’

          And I won’t go into the jokes you hear about the Manchester City striker Jesus (Brazilian) every time he misses a cross into the penalty area….

    3. Nikkikat

      I keep seeing articles like this one and wonder who it is that these writers are speaking with and how they think Michelle Obama has any credibility or credentials to run for President.
      I have actually run into more Mrs. Obama detractors than even Harris. That’s not saying much. I also would not want her friend Valerie any where near the White House again.

    4. lordkoos

      Unlike Hillary Clinton, I doubt Michelle Obama has any interest in revisiting the white house after being there for 8 years previously.

  19. dday

    Re the distance women will have to travel for an abortion. The map from Axios shows a long distance for women in southern Texas. I anticipate that there might emerge an abortion clinic system in Mexico. Mexico recently legalized abortion and it is gradually becoming more prevalent across the country, state by state.
    Just as many Americans now visit Mexico for dental work, American women may end up spending a day in Mexico to receive and take the two abortion pills, and a weekend for a surgical abortion.

    1. WobblyTelomeres

      Suggest keeping several packs of morning after pills, levonorgestrel, brand name Plan B One Step though available as a generic, and a supply of naloxone, brand name NarCan. Know how to administer them. Tell people you have them. Family, neighbors, etc. Hope you never need them.

      1. dday

        The morning after pill works for up to 5 days after intercourse. The two pill abortion method, as used in the U.S. since 2000, works for up to about ten weeks of pregnancy. Mifepristone is taken first, it blocks progesterone. The second pill, misopristol, is taken within 48 hours of the first pill and empties the uterus. About 40% of U.S. abortions now use this method.

        I think there will rise up networks of pill providers. The drugs themselves are very inexpensive. A new Texas law went into effect today outlawing the mailing of abortion pills and also prohibits providing the pills to women.

      2. anonny

        There is another morning after pill, Ella, a pill with ulipristal acetate which is available by prescription.

        ella is the most effective type of morning-after pill.

        You need a prescription from a nurse or doctor to get ella emergency contraception, but you can get a fast medical consultation and prescription with next-day delivery online.

        You can take ella up to 120 hours (five days) after unprotected sex — but it’s best to take it as soon as you can.

        If you weigh 195 pounds or more, ella may work less well.

        https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/morning-after-pill-emergency-contraception/which-kind-emergency-contraception-should-i-use

  20. Wukchumni

    Ventured yesterday to the place where the very first Ghost Dance was held in these United States in 1870.

    Eshom Valley is quite beautiful and nestled @ 3,350 feet in the Sierra foothills just below the snow line and where i’d want to be if I was a Native American, in terms of living space. In lieu of the 100 days of 100 degrees lowlanders in the CVBB face during our torrid summers, it probably got up to the low 90’s mostly.

    Resplendent views of distant 11k to 14k Sierra peaks as a backdrop to the locale where they felt afforded the best chance of resurrection made sense as the aesthetics were perfect. I could see why they chose this to be the place.

    There’s a broad flat area (bisected by the road to Eshom cemetery) that seemed to be the only likely floor that could have accommodated the many thousands of marathon dancers all with the same goal in mind…

  21. allan

    Second U.S. case of Omicron variant indicates domestic transmission [STAT]

    Health officials on Thursday reported the country’s second Covid-19 infection from the Omicron variant in a Minnesota resident who notably did not travel internationally recently, unlike the first case.

    The case in Minnesota is an adult male who had been vaccinated and who lives in Hennepin County, which includes Minneapolis, state health officials said. He developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22, was tested on Nov. 24, and no longer has symptoms.

    The man had been in New York City in the days leading up to feeling sick and attended the Anime NYC 2021 convention at the Javits Center from Nov. 19 to Nov. 21. …

    Conveniently timed just before Thanksgiving, so attendees could go home
    and spend time with their … oh, never mind.

      1. lordkoos

        Attendance capped at 50,000 attendees for that event. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time…

        smh

    1. Jen

      Wait, what?

      ““The primary goal of vaccination all along has been to prevent severe disease so it’s very encouraging that vaccines are still successful in that regard,” Jan Malcolm, Minnesota’s health commissioner, said at a briefing.”

      I hate these people. All of them.

  22. PlutoniumKun

    lol.

    When I read that I was thinking of two people I knew who lived for a while in Tel Aviv (both married to Israeli’s, but non-Jewish) and they both talked constantly about the very high quality of life there, even if not on a very high income. It looks like this is changing.

  23. Wukchumni

    Confidence schemes once required physical interaction by the swindler and those to be fleeced-which was the hardest part to pull off as so many things could go wrong for for the former, human nature being so fickle face to face.

    Here’s a story from the late 80’s of how it used to go down, before the internet made it ridiculously easy to part people from their money.

    Trading desk of a large bullion firm that buys and sells to the public gets a call from somebody that wants to buy a large amount of karats with green tops and wants to wire money into their bank account and needs their routing #, and over the course of the next week, 4 wires each for the amount of $57k showed up in their bank, and what the perp had done was put an advert for a then really hard to come by 1988 Mercedes 500 SL into a major newspaper, and lets say MSRP was $68k and there aren’t many around even at sticker, his had 1,245 miles and he had to sell as he had been sent to the Far East by his company or some other malarkey. The price he was asking was just enticing enough to lure in 4 dupes into sending him $57k, which was actually going to the bullion firm.

    This is where human interaction had to come into play, the swindler didn’t want to risk being caught in the act of receiving goods, so the bad guise would always employ a courier to be the pick up man, and if all went well, it was as if you never existed and earned a quarter million for the effort.

    Only thing was in this instance the bullion firm was wise to what’s what and aside from having the coppers around to bust the innocent courier in theory picking up the precious, that’s as far as it went, nearly the perfect crime.

  24. Culp Creek Curmudgeon

    Re: An Empire of Dreams by John Michael Greer.

    This may be a minor point in the essay as a whole, but wtf is the whole “Gregory Bateson, in a fascinating series of articles collected in his book Steps to an Ecology of Mind, discussed the way that schizophrenia is created by this kind of suppression of the obvious in a family setting” bs.

    My brother is schizophrenic. Looking back it was clear his illness developed in his early 20s after he had graduated with honors from Columbia University. He had a premature birth and had epilepsy as a child. He once told me that he ran a company that was worth 4.6 quadrillion dollars. He became homeless and is now in prison because that’s how we take care of the mentally ill in the U.S.

    He is not schizophrenic because of the suppression of the obvious in a family setting. We’re 13 month apart; we were raised in almost identical ways. If Bateson is correct, why aren’t I schizophrenic? Or any of my other siblings? My brother’s schizophrenia is not a coping mechanism that went awry. It’s something that happened to him. I watched it happen to him.

    When you’re dealing with someone with schizophrenia, it’s not at all like in the movies. It’s incredibly frustrating and heartbreaking because their delusions pain them. It pains them because they can’t make you see what’s obvious to them. No doubt this parallels what’s happens with believers in “conspiracy theories.” It also happens to people who read NC: Once you’ve seen the U.S. empire in all it’s horrific power you can’t unsee it.

    But I’m not schizophrenic. You’re not schizophrenic. The vast majority of conspiracy theorists are not schizophrenic. I’m left with this question: Does Gregory Bateson have any actual experience with someone with schizophrenia?

  25. Kouros

    The precautionary principle has influenced environmental and public health policy. It essentially states that complete evidence of a potential risk is not required before action is taken to mitigate the effects of the potential risk.

    I have not seen any evidence of this principle being applied.

  26. flora

    re: WTA suspends tennis tournaments in China amid concern for Peng Shuai – Sydney Morning Herald

    Joe Rogan has a snippet about this. utube, 8+ minutes.

    #1740
    Peng Shuai and China’s Anti-American Propaganda

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuKZq5LDVP4

    Methinks this about more than money for women’s sports. imo

    1. PlutoniumKun

      The story is fascinating and has all sorts of levels that aren’t been widely reported. Not least that in her letter claiming she was sexually assaulted she devotes much of it to complaining bitterly at how badly she was treated by her ex lovers wife. It seems she may well have lived with the two of them (it wouldn’t be all that uncommon for the wives of powerful Chinese men to tolerate their mistresses).

      There is also strong ambiguity over just what she accused him of. The language she uses is ambiguous and could be interpreted in more than one way. Tankies are insisting that she didn’t accuse him of sexual assault at all and this is an invention by the NYT, but the native Chinese speakers I’ve asked this about say that their impression is that she did say this.

      But the photos posted online after her disappearance are full of hints that she isn’t happy – in particular she has a prominent photo of her with a winnie the pooh, which is the Chinese equivalent of ‘Lets go Brandon’.

      My guess is that nobody was all that worried about her accusations (her ex was very powerful but is now retired) but decided to hold her incommunicado for a few weeks as a ‘lesson’ (this is a very common way celebrities are brought to heel in China), but Beijing hugely underestimated just how bad this would look internationally. They are now in a bind – they don’t want to lose face by letting her leave China, but they don’t have any grounds to publicly accuse her of anything.

      1. Carolinian

        Tankies? When you’re in a maybe/maybe not cold war it’s hard to know what to believe. But obviously you’re a lot more informed on this than oh say me.

        Still I think it’s pretty obvious that Western sports organizations are not exactly objective when it comes to China or Russia. Those countries are not merely paranoid to think so.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          I used the term ‘tankies’, because people who leap onto one translation floating around the internet without bothering to check it with native speakers are not engaging in good faith argumentation, any more than the NYT is engaged in good faith reporting by failing to point out possible ambiguity in her Weibo post.

          I’ve no idea of the truth of what she said as i’m not qualified to translate the Chinese – I’m hoping one day to talk about this to a professional mandarin/english translater I know, but in the meantime I’ve asked Chinese friends and the concensus reply seems to be that they felt she was accusing him of sexual assault, but her choice of wording could be interpreted either way – as mandarin can be a very subtle and context dependent language (especially in written form) thats not surprising. Thats all I know for now.

      2. flora

        Thanks for this. Might one suppose then, that a young woman caught in an Eastern concubinage situation is appealing to the West’s earlier Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologiea and later the Enlightenment principles for support? If so, that is interesting.

        1. PlutoniumKun

          It might be described as concubinage, but oddly enough one Chinese person I know described it as ‘very French!’

          A lot of marriages among ‘connected’ Chinese are as much business arrangements as love matches, so its not unusual for one or both partner to not be very bothered if the other side has lovers. Some wives prefer to know about their husbands mistresses as they can then manage the situation to their own advantage. Add to this that young sportswomen are often hothoused in very restricted circumstances and its not unexpected that they end up in this sort of situation. The whole question of consent then becomes pretty complicated.

          Maybe its just the people I know, but the Chinese I’ve talked to about this found it all quite unsurprising and uninteresting. None of them are outraged one way or another and find the Western obsession with it more interesting than the actual events. But part of this could be due to the way Chinese social media is very managed.

  27. CP

    GM: “[Omicron] comes from South Africa, the place with the largest number of immunocompromised people on the planet.”

    This is misinformation. Omicron did NOT come from South Africa. It was just first sequenced by scientists there. According to the below, first ex post facto detection was in Botswana with foreign diplomats as the source, and cases in Europe well before it was discovered in SA. So it has unknown origin with current available information, and NO SCIENTIST claims it originated in South Africa.

    https://www.cnbc.com/2021/12/02/where-did-omicron-covid-variant-come-from-and-where-is-it-circulating.html

    1. tegnost

      um…..
      https://www.britannica.com/place/Botswana
      foreign diplomats is doing a bit of work there…
      from your link…
      “Meanwhile Botswana, one of the countries affected by Western travel bans in the wake of the variant, said last Friday that it first detected the variant on four foreign nationals who entered the country on a diplomatic mission on Nov. 7 (again, far earlier than it was reported by South Africa) as part of its regular Covid surveillance. It did not identify the foreign nationals’ home country.
      Adding, Botswana is certainly in southern africa, and travelers from S.A. are spreading it, even scientists can see that, so……

      1. CP

        Right, like I said, the origin is to date unknown. “Foreign diplomats” is not doing any work, it means exactly that. It could mean from literally any other country on the planet, i.e. another Southern African country or from outside Africa. I live in the region and knowing how people talk here I would assume off hand that ‘foreign diplomats’ means people from outside Africa, i.e. Europe, North America, or Asia.

        Furthermore it would very uncommon for there to be a ‘diplomatic delegation’ from a neighboring country into Botswana as all these countries are already highly networked with one another (not to mention they certainly wouldn’t waste a nice foreign trip if they could avoid it on just going over border to Bots – which has a definite reputation among Southern Africans as being a well run but ‘boring’ country). If I had to guess, it would be diplomats from a country Botswana has some economic ties with, e.g. Japan, Korea, US, or one of the European countries. Which is why they don’t want to name names.

        From a more recent article: “The four foreign nationals, aged between 30 years and 65 years who had come to Botswana on November 7, tested positive on November 11 and on further investigation their samples showed new mutations on November 22, said Smith-Lawrence. She added that the government uploaded the data on the international database the next day. “Unfortunately … finger now points to Botswana to say it originated in Botswana, or it is a Botswana variant, which I think is quite unfair and unnecessary at this time,” she said, adding that 14 of the 19 people so far detected with the variant were foreign nationals. She declined to name the nationalities of the people or from where they had flown.”
        https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2021-12-01-most-omicron-cases-in-botswana-have-been-asymptomatic-health-official-says/

        As I’ve said before, Americans have a tolerance for sloppy information, gross ignorance, and pitying indifference about Africa that astounds me. It’s very important whether the variant came from Southern Africa or not. A lot of people are suffering / will suffer (and will die) because of the economic impacts from these chaotic and unjust travel bans on Southern Africa which Boris Johnson set off. If a country, like Japan did, wants to ban ALL incoming foreign travel due to this variant that makes sense. But to single out Southern Africans is completely wrong, scientifically, morally, and politically, especially now as the variant is now in many countries (which are still not subject to travel bans and likely won’t be). This is not escaping notice by people here. Africa is the ultimate ‘fly over country’ and Omicron has allowed Southern Africans to become the new ‘deplorables’ I guess. Nice work people.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          You are misinforming readers and your partisanship is a major public health disservice. And your IP locator shows you are in Gaunteng, and so may very well be operating in a paid capacity. From GM:

          Nobody is saying it came from Botswana, that was in the articles that were written in the immediate 48 hours after the announcement, but after that it was dropped.

          The main candidate is Gauteng province, and specifically the district that lit up first (it started in one particular area of Tshwane).

          Yes, it could have originated somewhere else and then been brought to that area, and then it explodes there and from then it spreads around the rest of the world.

          But that is less parsimonious than it originating there.

          We know South Africa and (Southern Africa as a whole) has a lot of HIV+ people and that HIV+ people generate weird variants. So it is the prime candidate for emergence of something like that, especially when it blows up initially right in the middle of the region and everything fits in terms of origin. Thus this is the leading explanation until further facts appear that tip the probabilities in a different direction.

          We need to stop making the situation worse by bringing into it all the idiocy that poisoned life before the pandemic. Initial containment was botched to a very large degree because of the fact that it came from China and that played into the hands of the lunatics on both sides. One side decided to blame it all on the Chinese and show that it is doing something to stop the spread by banning travel from China (but not from everywhere else that it came from; which had the ironic effect of sparing the West Coast and having the East Coast be the initial epicenter). The other side cried “Racism! Xenophobia!” and was opposed to all measures that could have stopped the introduction (this has been erased from history, but I lived through it and remember very well the flurry of such articles in the mainstream media). We know what the end result was between these agendas.

          This is not getting solved until we approach it scientifically and rationally, setting aside our internal squabbles with the understanding that it is a virus that doesn’t give a damn about them.

          Instead, now there will be a fierce battle over where Omicron did not come from instead of focusing on containment.

          I am not seeing South Africa, Botswana, or any other country in the region doing anything to stop the spread right now, and I would be worried about that a lot more than about “racism”, “colonialism” and other silliness of the sort.

          Cases are up in Zimbabwe from 27 to 1,054 week on week, a 50-fold increase. In a week!

          It’s exploding in Swaziland too, starting in to show up in the stats in Mozambique, and soon all over the region.

          Is South Africa ready to lose another 0.4-0.5%% of its population? Because that is where this is headed under current policy.

          I trust you will find your happiness elsewhere on the Internet.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      You aren’t a scientist or monitoring the data, so you are in no position to second-guess GM..

      Based on the number and timing of cases, GM and other experts say it was circulating in RSA in Oct.

  28. ChrisAtRU

    #LeBureauDeLaVeepEnDéshabillé

    “Symone Sanders to leave the VP’s office Politico. Rats leaving a sinking ship.”

    LOL

    1. Always a good metaphor, those rats!
    2. “It was not immediately clear where Sanders is heading next … “ Ohhh?! If she’s the merc’ she’s shown herself to be, I’d be willing to say #ButtItItch … but then again, Abrams is running for governor, which is the kind of campaign I could see Sanders going for. Throwin’ a curve here: let’s say Abrams fails in her gubernatorial pursuits, could she (Abrams) be a possible replacement at VP for the ’24 run?! Hahahahaa! #OMG. Going to be very interesting next year. Not since Roosevelt has there been multiple Veeps over a multi-term presidency … correct? Looks like Harris may yet again be making “history”.

  29. thoughtful person

    Bit late here, found this bit in Qualcomm story:

    “Qualcomm is framing the always-on camera as similar to the always-on microphones that have been in our phones for years. Those are used to listen for voice commands like “Hey Siri” or “Hey Google” (or lol, “Hi Bixby”) and then wake up the phone and provide a response, all without you having to touch or pick up the phone. But the difference is that they are listening for specific wake words and are often limited with what they can do until you do actually pick up your phone and unlock it.”

    I knew I had good reason to avoid Bixby et al like the plague!

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